California Valley 2011 Results - RC Groups
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Sep 26, 2011, 10:19 PM
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California Valley 2011 Results

There were a total of ten teams entered in the 2011 California Valley XC race. We had three good days of racing with varied weather conditions ranging from massive thunderstorms on Friday to much cooler and pleasant weather on Sunday. As usual the wind was a major factor.

Rich Spicer flying his MXC along with his teammates Rich Beardsley and Kent Kollins flew consistently well and made good decisions all three days and as result ended up with a solid and well deserved win for the contest. They had two 1st place finishes and a 3rd place finish. Team Warlock consisting of Greg Norsthworthy, Bob McGowan and Mike Palrang also did quite well coming in second place overall flying Greg’s XC Racer #10. Steve Henke, Kathy Stymeist and Bill Curry were close behind in third place flying the fantastic Super Supra. Team Flying Tigers(Dean Gradwell, Ron McElliot and Roger Hebner) came in fourth and probably would have done even better if their airplane had not suffered a catastrophic in flight failure on their final glide just before the finish line on day one.

The complete official final scores are listed in the attached word file below. A few scoring notes:

1. There were a total of 3 penalties assessed for the entire contest. Two penalties for loggers that did not have satellite lock prior to starting and one penalty for a logger that malfunctioned. These penalties did not change the final overall standings.
2. There was an error in the scoring of Team Flying Tigers on day 3. Their start time was incorrectly calculated and as result on day 3 they placed 2nd , not 4th as the preliminary scoring indicated. This error did not affect the final overall standings.The corrected scoring for day 3 is shown on the scoring summary in the attached word file.
3. Day 2 was heavily devalued because no teams finished the prescribed course.
Last edited by XC soaringpilot; Sep 27, 2011 at 04:39 PM. Reason: CORRECTED MISSPELLED NAMES
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Sep 27, 2011, 11:46 AM
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TrekBiker's Avatar
We (team Windward) experienced the Skytrace GPS satellite lock problem on Sunday morning. Three times the blinking green light went to solid green for several seconds and then started blinking again. This is the first time I had witnessed this and it could be the problem other teams experienced when they launched believing they had a solid green light lock. Luckily John and Ron had emphasized not moving the glider for at least a couple minutes after getting satellite lock to ensure the lock was real. It also helps to shade the GPS with your hand when in direct sunlight to make sure you can see the green light go solid, it is very small and hard to see in direct sunlight.

Sep 27, 2011, 01:02 PM
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dbaya's Avatar


I like using the GPS units for data collection. Great to see how the other teams flew. I would like to see Rich Spicer flight in particular. He smoked us.

We should discuss using GPS for next year. The GPS penalties hurt us in Montague and became a problem with us in Cal Valley. The units are no longer avalible so I have heard. Is there alternatives? Is there a way to make them more reliable? 25 points per turn point pretty harsh.

Thanks John! I know you spent a lot hours crunching the GPS data. Much appreciated.
Sep 27, 2011, 02:46 PM
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Thanks for all you do for us XC guys.

The contest took alot of effort but your work with GPS scoring is where we are all extra grateful.

I think our existing GPS units worked well after knowing what you must do to get a good flight log. If Ralph Weaver has a new model coming out maybe a group purchase would provide some incentive.

After reflecting on my MXC demise I feel it was all pilot error. Final glide at 6-700 meters, Jeep going a solid 60 mph for the last couple of miles, 2-3 miles to go why did I put in more and more down trim. I preach final glide altitudes and didn't want to finish with several hundred meters between me and the ground. When you see it tuck it's too late.

Regards Dean
Sep 27, 2011, 08:06 PM
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TrekBiker's Avatar

Magellan Skytrace GPS update

I just received this email from Ralph Weaver

Hi Steve,

Unfortunately, the lock issue with the SkyTraceGPS is not uncommon. It's always best practice to turn the GPS on a few minutes before launch.

The GPS chip is no longer in production. I am working on a new one, but it won't be available for several months due to family and job obligations.
Sep 28, 2011, 01:56 AM
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Ralph - Please include me in your planning - count me for two units!
Anyone else???
Sep 29, 2011, 11:40 PM
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TrekBiker's Avatar
I was one of the original guys that resisted the GPS Winscore system that John and Dean have been championing. I did not understand the scoring algorithim (and still dont) but now I think it really is the way to go. It seems to be designed to keep the maximum number of teams in the hunt during a multiday contest event. Once my team got used to how to approach the turn point cylinders it became very simple to avoid penalties. Also the satellite lock problem seems to be solved. So I vote to continue with the speed task and GPS/winscore system.

Sep 30, 2011, 12:37 AM
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I definitely think gps is the way to go regarding scoring. The accuracy compared to manually scoring the way we did in the past is far greater. The fact is many of our races are extremely close. Without the gps we had to rely on inaccurate estimates of the starting time when the glider is at 1000 meters or more. We all try to make the turnpoints, but I know there were complaints in the past when one team felt another team never actually made the turnpoint. Then there was problem of measuring the distance flown on landout. We had to rely on car odometers to measure the distance. Of course there is significant error in doing that. GPS eliminates all of these issues and gives us a log that is 100% accurate.

But, there are issues we must address. The satellite lock issue has been a problem. I think we can minimize this problem with the current loggers by being very diligent about turning on the loggers well before the flight and making sure the green light has been solid for several minutes before launching. I think Domonic had a good suggestion about reducing the penalty when the gps fails to log the entire flight. We need a separate discussion about the penalties.

I would suggest that everyone use their loggers as much as possible even when not flying xc. This will help you learn better how use it and make sure you know when it is logging properly. Its just like any other part of your sailplane, you must be familiar with it and know how to use it.

If you are not sure about the scoring algorithm, you can find it on the SSA website at :

Oct 21, 2011, 10:11 PM
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Marcela has posted a short report and the complete scores for the last Cal Valley event at


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