TD Contest Rules Revision? - RC Groups
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Apr 30, 2016, 12:57 PM
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Dudley Dufort's Avatar

TD Contest Rules Revision?

More than a few conversations, discussions and debates have recently spun off from our reminder to avoid the Owl Habitat. As the VP of Contests, I’m charged with the responsibility of promulgating our contest rules, especially as they pertain to our Thermal Duration contests. I’m seeking input from our members on what if any changes should be considered.

The main topic of recent discussions revolves around field boundaries. Pop-offs have also been mentioned but ALL our TD rules are fair game for discussion. The process I envision will be to encourage comments on our RCGroups page then put the issues to a vote via on-line balloting. Feel free to chime in, if you’re interested in this process. As a point of reference, you’ll find our “CD OUTLINE” on the club web site.

Please keep your comments short and civil and remember that RCGroups is a VERY public forum. Since this process will culminate in an opinion poll, save your “me too’s” for Survey Monkey.

SVSS has been around for 25 years. Historically, our contest boundaries have always been determined at the CD's discretion. Typically they were the County Roads to the north and south of our park, the old antenna farm to the east and the horseshoe/archery area to the west. If you landed outside of those boundaries, your score for that round was zero. A few years ago, the establishment of the Safety Line adjacent to the parking lot and shade structure became our inviolate western boundary. In recent years, some CD’s have declared the owl habitat fence line as the north, south and east boundaries. With renewed attention on avoiding the owl habitat, many guys think the fence should become the absolute boundary and remove that from CD’s discretion. What do you think?

Our current rules allow one pop-off per day for pilots flying in the Master and Expert classes and no limit on the number of pop-off's for those in the Sportsman class. Is this rule in need of revision? Should one size fit all? What do you think?

Another minor item that has bounced around a bit has to do with flight timing. We currently follow AMA rules and round up or down to the nearest whole second. There have been instances when the CD specified the fractional second be ignored or truncated when recording flight time. Should we adopt “rounding” as the hard and fast rule for flight timing? What do you think?

As you compose your remarks, please try to think in terms of what is beneficial to the club as a whole rather than what is beneficial to YOU as an individual.

TD Contest Rules Revision
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Apr 30, 2016, 01:45 PM
E sailplane thermal hack
Seems like an easy decision about a zero flight score outside the fence.


Ps edit : of course it's EASY for me to say that since I ONLY fly electrics.
Apr 30, 2016, 03:38 PM
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nodlehs's Avatar
My $.02...

When I CD, I typically make them the fences N,E, S & safety line W out to the edge of the west edge of the parking lot, which IMO is a pretty big target area. Our Master/Expert class pilots should be able to handle that, our Sportsman need to learn to handle it.

I could go in a lot of different directions here. A) 1 popoff/day for Master/Expert only allowed for winch/line failure only; Sportsman allowed unlimited popoffs - B) 1 popoff/day for Master/Expert allowed for winch/line failure only; 3 popoffs/day for Sportsman - C) 1 popoff for all classes/day only allowed for winch/line failure

AMA rules state that fractions of a second are dropped, FAI "J" times are recorded to tenths of a second, and ALES rules allow 1 point per completed second of flight . I think that is a definition that cannot be misinterpreted. Therfore, I believe we should truncate, we should record only completed seconds flown (zero decimal places, w/ no rounding up/down), whatever the contest, unless the contest is for "J" (1 decimal place), or the task is Speed (2 decimal places).
It's simpler, there's no misunderstanding whether we round up on .5 or down, etc., and everybody is in the same canoe rowing in the same direction.

Apr 30, 2016, 08:17 PM
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Windrider53's Avatar
Speaking from the sportsman class I would say that within the boundaries of the field for all is good. I have had a few "out" landing, mostly due to poor planning on my part or due to radio or structural failure. We have quite a bit of area to land in without needing to land outside of the fence.

I am trying to think of how many pop offs I have seen in all classes and it's not very many. While it sounds a bit intimidating I think one for all classes is fair. If the aircraft is set up correctly and the pilot has enough skill to fly in a contest one should be enough. If the pop off is caused by a winch failure that should not count as this is not under the pilots control.

Timing? Well, I will admit to being lazy and it is easier to read the whole seconds on the stopwatch than to worry about rounding.
May 01, 2016, 12:35 PM
Old Prop Buster
Sir Dumb Thumb's Avatar
I am an ALES pilot who participates in most ALES contests and I don't see a lot of people chasing their planes into the weeds. I don't know what happens at the TD contests. If you have a radio or other problem a zero flight is pretty close to what you are going to get anyway. No sense adding insult to injury. Picking the burrs out of your socks should be enough penalty. We have the motor restart rule in ALES to help us and that should be enough. This is also a public park, what happens the other 6 days a week there? I looked online and I don't see any regulations about walking in the owl habitat. Are there signs posted in other areas of the Grasslands Park saying "Don't walk in these areas"? There are sheep grazing and the Shepard is walking out there.

Whole seconds, if the watch says 9:58.2, then it is 9:58. If the watch says 9:58.9, then it is still 9:58.
May 06, 2016, 01:23 PM
Registered User
The problem with the fence is not landing on the other side and getting a zero score, the problem is hitting the fence and destroying your expensive sailplane, trying to get back to the field to get points.

I go to the contest because I enjoy the company of other pilots and I enjoy flying.

I can go to the field on a non contest day and if a pop off I can still fly, and if it looks like I may hit the fence I can land out and fly again.

The top 10 pilots are not going to pop off or land beyond the fence and, what the winner of a contest needs more than anything is 19 pilots behind him.

Allow pop offs and give us a chance to save our planes, may be 200 feet on the other side of the fence.

Remember the most import thing about a contest is to have contestants.
May 08, 2016, 09:23 PM
Registered User
For my $.25, I'm addressing the sub-topics in reverse order. (civil, but not short)

Timing: It's not a big deal, we can pretty much do whatever we want, & I while agree truncating is simpler, I happen to prefer rounding for our TD tasks. I must disagree w/ those who believe & espouse that AMA rules indicate TD times aren't supposed to be rounded. My stance is based on the AMA Competition Regulations: 2015-2016 RC Soaring as currently posted online.

1. Pg. 8, Section 10. Contest Guidelines and Definitions, at 10.2.2.b. it states: "The time will be rounded to the nearest second." That seems very clear to me & contradicts what's been said & implied earlier in this thread. But for allowing CD discretion, rounding actually applies to all the AMA TD tasks, except for T1 (& ALES events) as referenced below. Also, we typically fly modified/hybrid precision-duration tasks rather than specific AMA tasks, anyway.

2. Pg. 16, under Task T1 -- International Duration," at one finds: "All fractions of a second will be dropped." This is where such wording was obtained, I guess, that was included in a previous post & inferring it applied across the board. The facts are that this is only place the statement appears & it applies only to this particular task (which I haven't seen/flown for years). In each of the other TD tasks (T2-T8), you will find a specific reference to 10.2.2.b., i.e., "...rounded to the nearest second."

3. Pg. 28, in Task T8--Speed, please note at "An official timer shall specified in section 10.2.2." The suggestion in an earlier post that Speed be recorded to 2 decimal places doesn't align w/ AMA method of calculating scores (see, pg. 12 Sample Calculations for the speed task & note the Time/Seconds column in the example chart).

4. Pg. 44, for event 463 (ALES), section#4 (Scoring): "Time will be... truncated for scoring purposes." That ALES has its own set of rules for launches, timing, landing tasks, in/out of boundaries, etc., doesn't mean we should necessarily embrace any/all of them for our TD events. (I do like any part of the plane touching a boundary is considered "in-bounds.")

Popoffs: In light of our TD season competition, & for those pursuing LSF tasks, all those using a winch ought to be held to the same standard, regardless of pilot/aircraft class, i.e., the same # of popoffs. No problemo for our integrated ALES fliers, eh? Also, it's my opinion that popoffs are pilot equipment/error induced. AMA rules allow for re-launches in cases of contest/CD provided equipment malfunction (winch/line break, retriever snag, etc.), timing equipment failure & fault of a judge (see 7.2.b.&c.). I don't believe such contest-equipment/official malfunctions should ever be considered, nor counted, as a popoff. I can't recall any instance in my 40+ years of competitions across the USA where that's been done - not once! Large contests may stipulate a second line-break has to be flown out for time, but it's usually touted as "the need to keep the contest moving," not counted as popoff. Regardless of those who opine "Any of us can break the line anytime we want," I contend, since a pilot has no control over the line condition, previously tied knots, etc., the pilot shouldn't be penalized in such cases. I have had line breaks while towing Oly 650s & Gentle Ladys for gosh sakes! I'm not a big supporter of the "first break's on us, second's on you" approach at any contest & would rather see equity for a pilot.

Boundaries: If we're to use the "inside the fences" as the standard to qualify flight time, I think it needs to apply to everyone, for the same reasons as I've given for popoffs. The fence across the south side of the landing area has been a longtime stickler for me & we need to come up w/ an equitable solution for when we make final approaches from the south. The fence can have quite the disparate impact on fliers using the eastern half of the typical spot layout, as opposed to the westerly spots. The westerly spot users not only avoid contending w/ a 5' obstacle on final, they have 700'-750' more of flight-qualifying terra firma to the south if landing short. Barring fence foldown/removal, simply putting out a few cones on the open south side to demarcate a fence extension is never going to provide an obstacle equal to that posed by the fence & posts.

Last edited by NNolte; May 08, 2016 at 09:33 PM.
May 09, 2016, 10:44 AM
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nodlehs's Avatar

You are correct, in what you quoted from the Soaring Rules regarding timing, however when determining points to award they are [almost always] based on (1) point per second of flying time/duration/etc. That in itself invites interpretation and would appear to be in "conflict" with 10.2.2 (Timing). It appears that there are 2 separate actions here...The recording of the time, and the awarding of the points. I guess, in the end, it really depends on where it starts, and that should be how we record the time, which is what this is all about, do we round? If so, when do we round up, and when do we round down? I'm not arguing with you, however a CD is allowed a great degree of latitude, up to an including how an event is timed. Really, isn't it much simpler just to truncate the time, and everybody has a very clear understanding because we have a very unambiguous rule. OR...and I'll put this forth, specifically state 1 rounding rule, i.e. .5 and above shall be round up to the next whole second - below .5 shall be rounded down to the prior whole second. Meaning that 9:59.50 = 10:00 and 9:59.49 = 9:59. I do know of some folks that might write down both those times as 10:00 based on rounding the 100ths, THEN rounding the 10ths, and it doesn't work that way.

BTW, thanks for pointing out my error (and you could have even used my name <G>)...I can't take issue with that, 10.2.2 is pretty clear. In future contests, where appplicable, I will ask timers to record clock time as it appears to the 100th of a second. Then, when scoring, either we modify the program to accept it, or we only have the rounding performed by the scorer. That way everyone is ensured that they are timed/scored in a like manner.


May 09, 2016, 12:15 PM
Seems like we all do our best to get back to the field. A severe penalty might just cause pilots to try so hard that they damage planes. Seems like a season of increased awareess might have the same effect as a hard rule.

On popoffs I have been retrieving numerous times when the lines is under a wrap of line, causes a popoff and then springs free. No evidence at all after the fact. When using machanical retrievers generous popoffs should be allowed.

If we hand retrieved and there was no chance of a mechanical error then ya clamp down.
May 11, 2016, 09:16 AM
Registered User
Dudley Dufort's Avatar

Discussion Closed

This discussion culminated in a survey of our active members. The members have spoken and here’s what they say.
65% favor changing our TD contest boundaries to conform to the mitigation fences.
70% prefer that Sportsman continue to be allowed an unlimited number of pop-offs at our TD contests.
87% favor rounding off (up or down) flight times to the nearest second.
Our Thermal Duration CD guidelines will be modified accordingly.
This discussion is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated in the process.