I certainly agree that your plan B is what you should see at contests and in my opinion, usually do.
However, a new contestant has certain obligations as well. He needs to make sure that the CD is aware before the contest that he is planning on attending, make an effort to show up for Friday’s practice and to introduce himself to everyone he runs into. Friday is when you can meet contestants in a low-pressure environment and ASK for help. You cannot fail to preregister, sign up on Saturday with the non-pattern club member running registration, and then wander around the pits expecting to be noticed. It might happen… or not. This is also the busiest time for the CD. He is trying to keep a number of balls in the air and your newbie ball may fall to the floor. Also keep in mind that there are a lot of out of town contestants that may only see each other at this contest. Expecting them to stop reconnecting and pay attention to someone wandering around the pits is too much.
I would suggest the CD uses name tags listing: name, pattern class, years in pattern or newbie and model. Perhaps a different color tag for the newbie. This identifies everyone you don’t know and potentially gives you a leg up on something to talk about. CDs, are you listening?
Another area is the skill level of the newcomer. We often assign experienced pilots to act as callers. Sometimes this can be excruciating for the caller. When you get someone with a mistrimmed airplane along with lack of recognition of the fact that they are flying 30 degrees offcourse with a roll angle of twenty degrees and you are supposed to talk them through two loops…… Just do the best you can and offer to help them trim their model after the last round of the day. Plus try to find them some local help down the road.
As far as the Friday night dinners go, these are usually old friends getting together and are not part of the contest nor are they set up by the CD. You best bet is to try to set up a new group with the other sportsmen. I’ve been trying to get past this at my contests by holding a dinner at my house Friday night for all contestants to include significant others, etc. Of course if I don’t know you are coming…..
One thing I’ve pushed for but haven’t managed to pull off even at contests I CD, is a real scoreboard. This would be a board with scores, both raw and normalized, a photo of the flyer and model, plus placing in class for the current round posted. This helps both the contestants and provides an entry point for, dare I say it—spectators. If you think the new contestants are being ignored, try being a spectator at a contest where you are unknown. When you think about it, anyone who expends the energy to attend a pattern contest as a spectator not only deserves a medal but is also a POTENTIAL PATTERN FLYER.