2006 Online Contest (OLC) Overview and Tips (how to fly OLC flights)
by Paul Remde

Overview
The OLC (aerokurier Online-Contest) has been growing rapidly in popularity around the world over the last few years.  One great feature of the OLC is that since flights must be uploaded by Tuesday evening, the results of the previous week's flights are available in a very timely fashion.  It is fun to fly on Sunday and see how your flight compared with other pilots in the USA and around the world on Tuesday.  All OLC contests are handicapped to try to make it as fair as possible for pilots flying gliders of all performance levels.  Pre-flight task declarations are not required for any OLC flight.

Why I Like the OLC

  • Fun - It is fun to see your flight on the OLC site.  It is fun to download and view other flights from the OLC web site.
  • Promotes cross-country soaring
  • Simple (simple rules, no task declarations)
  • Instant gratification - See your flight on the OLC web site immediately after you upload it.  See how your flight compared with others in your area and around the world by the following Tuesday.
  • Compete in all 3 OLC contests by simply uploading your flight log once.  They will automatically get points in all the contests for which they qualify.
  • Fly any type of task you like and get points for it.  If you like "downwind dash" flights then you will get your best points in the OLC-Classic.  If you prefer triangular flights you can get points in the OLC Classic, the FAI-OLC and the OLC League.  If you fly along ridges or in wave systems you will probably get the most points in the OLC Classic and OLC League.

About This Page
Much of the data was collected from the OLC web site and from Doug Haluza's excellent OLC presentation.

The OLC is a Simple Contest for Everyone

  • No registration fees
  • No assigned tasks
  • No declarations
  • No claim forms
  • No gate keepers
  • No waiting for results

Automatic Flight Optimization
There is no need to manually calculate how far you flew.  That is done automatically when the flight is submitted to the OLC.  Optimization can also be done in SeeYou or StrePla or by the OLC web site when you submit your flight.  The optimization routines calculate where the start, finish and turnpoints should be to receive maximum points.

OLC Process

  • Takeoff
  • Fly
  • Land
  • Submit your flight log to the OLC (just one extra step!)

OLC Requirements

  • Pilot
  • Glider
  • Logger (An IGC Approved GPS Flight Recorder is required for some contests, but not all.)
  • Computer (For submitting the flight log to the OLC)
OLC Participation
  International SSA OLC (USA)
Pilots 8920 817
Clubs 1177 125
Airfields (YTD) 693 15
2005 Total Distance (km) 17,385,145 1,825,076
2005 Total # of Flights 58,803 6,192

 

US Participation Growth
Year Pilots Flights Km
2002 35 183 55,000
2003 111 738 216,000
2004 256 2,694 823,000
2005 520 6,192 1,825,000

Three Contests in One
In 2006 there are 2 new OLC contests in addition to the "Classic OLC" that should increase the popularity of the contest and help promote soaring.  They are summarized below. 
All flights submitted to the OLC will automatically get points in all 3 contests (assuming they qualify for all 3).

  • The "OLC-Classic" (free distance with up to 6 legs)
  • The "FAI-OLC" (triangular flights that meet minimum leg percentage rules)
  • The "OLC League" (weekend speed contest where the fastest 2 1/2 hours of the flight are used)

Rules, Common to All 3 OLC Contests
Complete rules are available here:
http://www.onlinecontest.org  Then click on the links to: aerokurier Online-Contest / US (or your region) / Rules

  • The flight has to be in free flight without any means of propulsion, from start point to finish point (motorgliders are fine but the OLC scoring ends where the motor is used.)
  • Reported start point, reported waypoints and reported finish point have to be actual GPS fixes in the IGC file.

Tips, Common to All 3 OLC Contests

  • Don't forget to "notch" your barogram.  You need to establish a start point.  The best way to do this is to do tight circle (in a thermal preferably) after you release.  A dive would also be acceptable.
  • European Date Format - All dates (birth date, etc.) are formatted differently than the way we are accustomed in the USA.  The OLC uses the following format: Day.Month.Year

OLC-Classic
This extremely popular "classic" contest will continue of course.  Points are automatically calculated for "free distance" flights with up to 6 legs.  Distance points are calculated such that you get 100% for legs 1 through 4, 80% for leg 5 and 60% for leg 6.  Flying this type of task is fun because you can fly where the lift is the best (cloud streets, ridges, wave, etc.) and get points for it.  Since no task declarations are required, and most common soaring tasks fit the rules, you can simply go fly any task and submit it to the OLC.

Rules Specific to the OLC-Classic Contest
Below is my summary of the rules.  Official rules are available here: Rules - OLC Classic and FAI-OLC

  • Distance Score = (Distance Achieved x 100) / DAeC Handicap
  • After the flight the start point, up to five turnpoints and the finish point are determined on the flight trace, so that the scored points for the flights are maximized.
  • 1 raw point per kilometer is granted for the distance from start point around three turnpoints to the fourth turnpoint.
  • For the distance between the fourth turnpoint to the fifth turnpoint (5th leg) 0.8 raw points per kilometer are granted.
  • For the distance between 5th turnpoint and the finish point (6th leg) 0.6 raw points per kilometer are granted.
  • Turnpoint four and five, as well as the finish point can be the same.
  • The minimum score is 50 points. Shorter flights will be displayed but they do not count.
  • The minimal finish altitude is 1000 meters (3281 feet) below the start altitude.

Example Tasks

  • Fly a "downwind dash" flight.  If the wind shifts during the flight you can alter your course to follow it - you will get points for the distance flown - not just the straight line distance.  This is the way to get the maximum points because you never need to fight a headwind.  The only downside is the long retrieve.
  • Fly upwind following cloud streets and then zoom home downwind.  If you get home early go back and do it again.  You can do it a 3rd time, but you won't get full points for legs 5 and 6.
  • Fly along a wave system or ridge on an out-and-return flight.  If you get home early go back and do it again.  You can do it a 3rd time, but you won't get full points for legs 5 and 6.
  • Fly a triangle of any length twice.  Of course, you won't get full points for legs 5 and 6.

Tips

  • Fly where the weather looks the best
  • Use cloud streets and other lift sources (ridges, mountain waves) as much as possible.  Follow the lift rather than flying to a predefined point on the ground.

FAI-OLC
The FAI-OLC gives points only to triangular flights that meet minimum leg percentage requirements as detailed below.  All flights submitted to the OLC that meet the requirements will receive points in this contest - there is no need to select it or apply for it.  One minor disadvantage to the OLC-Classic is that pilots flying in regions with ridge soaring have an advantage (in my opinion) to pilots flying in flat regions (like me).  Since the FAI-OLC requires that flights meet rules for minimum leg percentages, this contest is a bit more fair for us flat land soaring pilots.  Another minor disadvantage to the OLC-Classic is that it gave full points to pilots flying straight-out (downwind dash) flights.  While those flights are a lot of fun, some pilots prefer to do flights which end at the starting point because there are fewer long retrieves required - which makes it easier to find crew volunteers. Since downwind dash pilots never need to fly upwind they can generally go farther in the given amount of flight time - and they would therefore get more OLC-Classic points than pilots who get home every night.  The FAI-OLC contest is perfect for pilots who prefer to get home every night because downwind dash flights will not get any points in this contest.  Certainly, downwind dash flights are great fun and very rewarding to those that love them, and they will continue to get points in the OLC-Classic.

In a way this contest is a subset of the OLC-Classic because all flights submitted to the OLC will qualify for the OLC-Classic but only flights meeting the minimum leg percentage rules will receive points in the FAI-OLC.

Rules Specific to the FAI-OLC
Below is my summary of the rules.  Official rules are available here: Rules - OLC Classic and FAI-OLC

  • Distance Score = (Distance Achieved x 100) / DAeC Handicap
  • The maximum distance FAI triangle will be placed in the recorded, closed circuit flight track. The shortest leg has to be at least 28% of the total distance, or if the total distance is more than 500 km then the shortest leg has to be at least 25% and the longest leg can be a maximum of 45% of the total distance.
  • The flight track counts as a closed circuit if there is at least one valid GPS fix within one km of the starting point.
  • The distance around three waypoints are scored with 1 raw point per kilometer.
  • The minimum score is 50 points. Shorter flights will be displayed but they do not count.
  • The minimal finish altitude is 1000 meters (3281 feet) below the start altitude.

Example Tasks

  • Fly the largest triangle possible. 
  • Attempt a state soaring record flight for speed around a triangular course and it will also get FAI-OLC points.

Tips

  • You must fly a triangular task that ends within 1 km of the start point.  You must finish no more than 1000 meters (3281 feet) lower than you started. 
  • Setup a proposed triangle such that the 2nd leg is lined up with the wind so you can use the streets to minimize the need to stop and thermal. 
  • pocket*StrePla soaring flight software for Pocket PCs optimizes your triangular flight as you fly it.  It calculates the triangle distance you will achieve for the OLC and that number can be displayed in a "thumbnail" on the map screen.  It can also display an FAI turn area chevron that moves as you fly the first leg of the flight.  You fly the first leg and head off on the 2nd leg and pocket*StrePla will display a turn sector for the 2nd turnpoint.  If you make your 2nd turn inside the chevron shaped area you can be sure that the triangle will meet the FAI triangle rules.  I believe that pocket*StrePla is the only soaring flight software that does this in-flight FAI triangle optimization.  It is a very cool feature that is perfect for the FAI-OLC contest.  You can see details on the software here: pocket*StrePla
  • SeeYou Mobile soaring flight software for Pocket PCs also optimizes your OLC triangles as you fly.  It calculates the triangle distance you will achieve for the OLC and that number can be displayed in a "thumbnail" on the map screen.  But it does not present the FAI turn area chevron while you fly.  It does show the chevrons while editing tasks before you fly, but not in flight - yet.  I hope they will add that soon because I am a big fan of SeeYou Mobile.  You can see details on the software here: SeeYou Mobile.

OLC-League
The OLC-League is a very simple speed contest that runs from April 29th through September 3rd.  The contest consists of 19 "rounds".  Each round is 2 or 3 days long and mainly on weekend days.  Points are awarded on a soaring club basis to the top 3 flights from each club for each round so you don't need to fly every day to have your flight count toward the club's score.  I think this is going to be an extremely fun contest!

2006 OLC League Schedule
Round Dates Days
1 April 29 - 30 2
2 May 6 - 7 2
3 May 13 - 14 2
4 May 20 - 21 2
5 May 27 - 28 2
6 June 3 - 5 3
7 June 10 - 11 2
8 June 17 - 18 2
9 June 24 - 25 2
10 July 1 - 2 2
11 July 8 - 9 2
12 July 15 - 16 2
13 July 22 - 23 2
14 July 29 - 30 2
15 August 5 - 6 2
16 August 12 - 13 2
17 August 19 - 20 2
18 August 26 - 27 2
19 September 2 - 3 2
Total   39

Rules Specific to the OLC-League Sprint Task
Below is my summary of the rules.  Official rules are available here: Rules - OLC League

  • The OLC-League is a team competition for clubs who participate in the OLC.
  • Flights must be flown from the home airport of the selected club.  I believe it is possible to change your selected club at any time so you can fly with another club but the points for your flight will go to that club.
  • The fastest 2 1/2 hours of the flight is used
  • The sprint start can not be higher than the sprint end.
  • If less than 2 1/2 hours is flown with the start not higher than the finish then the task time is still 2 1/2 hours
  • Up to 3 turnpoints (not including the start and finish)
  • Speed Score = (Distance Achieved in km x DAeC Handicap x 100) / 2.5 hours
  • The top 3 scores for each club will be used for that club for that round.

Example Tasks

  • Any task with up to 3 turnpoints. 
  • FAI triangle which qualifies for the FAI-OLC and/or a speed record.
  • Out and return
  • Straight distance flight "Downwind Dash"

Tips

  • Since the start cannot be higher than the finish you may want to do a climb up to cloudbase after you finish the task so your final glide can be included in the part of the flight that is used. 
  • Since the start cannot be higher than the finish you may want to get low (1000 feet?) after you release so your final glide can be included in the part of the flight that is used. 

Tips
How to Avoid Flight Log Download Validation Issues with a Cambridge 302 or 302A


Links
aerokurier Online-Contest - To go to the US contest click on the link near the top left of the page "aerokurier Online-Contest".  Then click on the link on the right side of the 3rd row from the top "US".

Rules - OLC Classic and FAI-OLC
Rules - OLC League


Paul E. Remde

8661 Connelly Place
Savage, Minnesota 55378
USA


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