Link to Wings and Wheels article titled, “SAFETY AT THE TURNPOINT.”
Here we find yet another excellent example of one of the “MANY INHERENT DANGERS” which accompany the mindset of the “US (SSA) SAILPLANE COMPETITION RULES.”
The article below should have instead been titled, “The DESIGNED IN LACK of SAFETY inherent to US Rules Racing Task Turnpoints.”
This article, from Wings and Wheels (a good one but totally overlooking the obvious SOURCE of the risk that it attempts to mitigate), fails to discuss the core reason why the US Rules assigned task turnpoint system (allowing for the random chaos of each pilot having the choice to add extra distance as if the US fake assigned task was a turn area task, which it absolutely is) is so incredibly dangerous. With the FAI rules, there is no opportunity to randomly add extra distance within their racing task turnpoints (hence FAI being a true race between pilots all flying the same set task, vs. US rules which in which all tasks are highly pilot option focused) and much smaller turnpoint diameters, helping to make the FAI rules racing task turnpoint behavior MUCH more predictable. Predictability is everything when it comes to safety.
With US rules racing task turnpoints (really mini-TATs), competitors can come into and out of the turnpoint from almost any direction, at any time. This often results in sailplanes merging suddenly at 90 degrees or even opposed to each other. This clear collision hazard is often very surprising as each pilot is regularly looking at their computers at these moments to determine their turn position in the small 1-mile radius area and often trying to maximize to the back edge. So in reality, the reason for the US rule (trying to spread things out) ends up resulting in most competitors coming together on the back edge of the turn cylinder to maximize distance, but with the added variable of almost total unpredictability! Gliders a few miles ahead are often out of sight and easily missed, especially in gaggles and condensed traffic.
This huge collision risk scenario is exacerbated by the US Rules “leaders” (aka anti-technology good old boys) simultaneously demonizing (a > 3-year crusade now) PowerFlarm as being NOT an anti-collision safety system for close quartered sailplanes (but instead a tool enabling cheaters to cheat so effectively that they unjustly “overperform” during competition!) and by ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING “Stealth Mode” which is strongly recommended against in the PowerFlarm documentation. PowerFlarm should be mandatory for competition. It is quite frightening to see the US safety culture and utter ignorance of these risks and more.
The laws of unintended consequences are profound here.
I have flown as many or more contest than anyone in the USA in the past 3-4 years. Both US Rules and FAI, including FAI SGP. Bottom line: The US Assigned task with its 1-mile radius “mini-TAT” rule is one of the most dangerous moments in the sport. It is as if they are intentionally trying to create a collision. We need to immediately dump the US rules and adopt FAI rules for safety, organizational simplicity, restarting US participation in the international sailplane racing community, and most importantly for the love of TRUE RACING.
Let’s end this terrible idea.