2015 US Club, 18-Meter and Open Class Nationals
Adapted from Charlie Spratt
The climate of the South Plains is described as semiarid and continental. The major weather maker though out the Hobbs task area is the convergence of two air masses. From the Gulf of Mexico and Old Mexico the southeast and south flow come up against the westerly air mass off of the Baja Desert and the Gulf of California. Where these two air masses meet is on a line usually parallel to the Eastern New Mexico and Western Texas borders. This convergence is known as the “Marfa Dew Line” or the “Dry Line.” In late June and early July the Dry Line is usually at its strongest. Over the last 30 years of contest in this task area Soaring Pilots have run this line many times with great results.
Of course with great soaring comes the chance ofthunderstorms. For the most part thunderstorms that form in the task area have a tendency to stay in one area or move very slowly. Cleaver pilots many times have been able to fly around the storms and complete tasks. The average annual rainfall is about 20 inches and most of this is from the thunderstorms in the spring.
THE PILOTS VIEW
The task area around Hobbs has become one of the most popular in American Competition Soaring. In the last thirty years more than 19 National Championships and countless regional contests have been held in it.
On a typical competition day the “Cu” begin to form around noon and usually by 1300 they are well above 3,500 feet AGL. Thermal strength grows quickly and 6 to 8 knots on the averager are common with a 10 knot or better thrown in the mix from time to time. If one of the task legs happens to be close to the “Dry Line” bases can be between 14 and 16 thousand feet AGL. On rare days the bases can be higher than the legally allowed 18,000 ft. MSL.
In the 2002 18 Meter National Championships where held late in the season due to scheduling conflicts with other Championships. Even though we were not flying at the best time of the season the tasks were long and challenging. On contest day two Ron Tabery flew his DG 800 at 87 mph over 260 miles on a Pilot Selected Task. Contest day three saw Bill Bartell fly his Ventus 2a over a 285-mile task at 93 mph. Contest day 7 saw Gary Ittner fly his Ventus CA at 88 mph over a 355 mile assigned task. Cloud base on several contest days was 14,000 AGL or better.
In other contests in the task area the fastest speed flown was 104 mph. At Hobbs New Mexico at the 1983 World Championships on the first contest day competitors were well above 16,000 ft. AGL.
For pilots coming to Hobbs for the first time they will find the much of the terrain in the task area friendly. With the usual high cloud bases the more remote western part of the task area can be flown safely. The Soaring is excellent and consistent though out the Hobbs task area and pilots become at ease with it very quickly.
Current Local Forecast for Hobbs