Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pine XC

Portland pilots made the migration to Pine on Sunday - what a long day, 4 hours to get there and Pine is a roll of the dice, it can go any which way. You can fly 100 miles or it can blow out at 11am, the forecasts seem pretty random for this area.

It turned out well, totally blue skies were sliced by big jet contrails that expanded to make a lot of stratus, the contrail shadows were blitzing across the desert floor showing the speed of the upper air mass. Mike Steed flew 87 miles towards Burns, I went 54 to just past Glass Butte, Steve went 36 to Hampton, Doug got 20 miles to Brothers, and Dan got a PB, so it was worth the drive.

The air was active, it was a lot of work to keep centered in the fast drifting cores and there was huge chunks of sink. I got a climb to 14k and was happily over dressed.

Thanks to Paula for driving and to Steve for the use of the short bus. It was great to see Frankie at the farm and spend the night there.

The Rat Race comp is in 2 weeks, I hope to get a few days flying before then.

stay tuned...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Post Comp Thoughts

You hear about the lead gaggle racing each other into the ground - and it's true, it happens more often than a logical person would allow themselves to repeat the mistake. When it happens, I've noticed I do much better in a task...

The mistake is thinking that you can't allow someone to beat you - what happens is you beat yourself - you beat yourself because you couldn't stand the thought of people passing you. What really matters is the total results (or do scores really matter at all?).

What really matters is that you get to goal, because the penalty for not getting to goal is much more severe than getting to goal slowly.

I think it's safe to say that the real tactician has their ego in check - they know that points are points and it doesn't matter how you get them, just that you get more than the others.

Of course that same tactician isn't going to win a task, they know winning a task has a price - it takes coming up short of goal 5 times for each task you win, and those odds don't win comps.

What wins comps is consistency. The pimpers are the most consistent, damn their souls! But I think every pimper one day gets tired of taking the safest odds and needs a little more excitement, and eventually ends up pushing out in front and taking the risk that comes with being first into goal.

At least they better stop taking the "low road" all the time, cause we know who you are...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

West Coast, Final Task

Another perfect flying day has been delivered - a 67 km task went along terrain that we had seen in bits and pieces on earlier days.

Goal was at the Purcell LZ which is in a fairly narrow valley with a lot of terrain on the downwind side. The excitement began just before the second place pilot, Marty Devietti, was about to enter the goal. At 150 feet above the trees his Airwave FR3 exploded and he instantly threw his reserve.

150 ft isn't really enough for a reserve to fully deploy, but it turned out to be a smart thing to do because it was the reserve that caught on a tree top and stopped his descent. As he swung a few feet above the ground, his GPS beeped to let him know that he had crossed the goal line...

That secured second place for Marty. Greg Babush was super consistent in this comp and wins first place for his efforts. Jack Brown was third.

The week's weather went through a very noticeable shift - it was bitter cold aloft for the first task and by the end of the week we were in shorts (inside the pod) and light jackets with thin gloves. We had some nice Cu for the start of the comp and pure blue for the end.

This comp had the best set tasks I have ever experienced at Woodrat - and I've been to every comp there. Along with the weather, the tasks make or break a comp, but unlike the weather, we have control over the tasks.

I want to acknowledge the task committee for an amazing job - thanks for making this comp spectacular. The task committee was: Jeff Wishnie, Brad Gunnuscio, Dean Stratton, Hayden Glatte and Marty Devietti. You guys rock.

Competition Results are Here.

See you all at the Rat Race!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

West Coast, Task 5

Another really well designed 68 km task today - I am very impressed with the quality of the tasks, they have been matching the conditions and remain very challenging.

Much warmer weather for task 5, no clouds but fairly consistent climbs up to 700 ft/min.

The course went to Grants Pass then to a tricky lee-side turnpoint near Apple Gate and then goal at Donato's. The high ground was working well, but there we some tense moments when we got low and scraped out of a small clear cut right at the top of the ridge line.

Nineteen gliders in goal, I raced too hard and came up 1k short which cost me 200 points - another lesson learned.

One more task remains and Greg Babush and Marty Devietti are within a few points of each other, the excitement is building.

The weather looks good for our last task.

Competition Results are Here.

Stayed Tuned

Thursday, June 12, 2008

West Coast, Task 4

High pressure, blue, NE wind, weird, scrappy, but if you connected with the convergence that was set up over the valley south of Ruch, it made this pinball task a lot easier, for me I was one of a handful of sacrifices that had a very short life out on course today.

Josh Cohn won the 30k task in an hour and 31 minutes, the task was worth just over 700 points, nineteen total in goal.

I have enjoyed learning how some competitors are so consistent - they are opportunists of the highest order, minimizing risk and capitalizing on others mistakes, and flying a fast glider doesn't hurt either.

Two days left, conditions look to be challenging with the current forecast.

The FS scoring program is being used for this comp, and so far I like what I see, but at usual, there are a few kinks and have to be unraveled, and Bill Hughes and Greg Babush are good at untying knots. Competition Results are Here.

stay tuned

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

West Coast, Task 3

Marty Devietti won today's task - a 61 km see saw that ran over high ground towards Grants Pass and then out into the flats near Jacksonville and back into the high ground with goal almost to Grants Pass. The wind was brutal on the last leg and only 7 pilots made goal.

The sky was much bluer today and high pressure is moving in, the temps are rising to the 90's by the weekend.

Three days remain. Competition Results are Here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

West Coast, Task 2

We had strong winds aloft that were forecasted to get stronger in the afternoon, so we had an early start and a shorter race that ended at the now famous Donato's LZ.

A fair amount of cloud showed where the lift was, but there was also strong sink especially on the way to goal. The air was unstable an quite active, I was calling it "jiggy".

Lots of people in goal, Donato was there to greet us and pass out cold beer, it was as good as it gets.

Mike Steed won the task, which may be a first win for him. Sam Mulder made goal too, a first for him. The flying is supposed to improve tomorrow.

Competition Results are Here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

West Coast, Day 2

A fast moving front crosses the state today, high winds aloft are forecast, so we won't race today.

Stay Tuned


Sunday, June 08, 2008

West Coast, Task 1

Perfectly clear blue skies today, with small Cu popping in the distance and snow on the high peaks of the Cascades.

The forecast was good so a 65k triangle was called. Woodrat to Grants Pass to Gold Hill and Longsword winery as the goal. Just one big Cu popped over the high point midway to Grants pass and we were getting almost to 8k. It was pretty straight forward until Gold Hill where the lift got scrappy and a crosswind wind picked up. Lots of people decked here.

After Gold Hill, we had to cross a peak with no LZ options, it was a little scary but there was lift. 18 or so in goal, the last 10k was a speed bar stomping race.

A really sweet day to start this comp.

Competition Results are Here. I forgot my camera download cable, so this comp report may be just words...



Tuesday, June 03, 2008

West Coast, Baby

The first paragliding comp of the season starts in a few days, and I am planning to make it through without getting injured - after all, one needs goals right?

Last year, on the last day of the first comp of the season, I threw my reserve about a mile from goal and broke my pelvis when I landed. I didn't do another comp until seven month's later.

Five years ago, at my first comp, I experienced my first rush of tactical decision making. In the last thermal before goal, I waited for the only other pilot in the thermal to turn away from me before I left the thermal on full bar to do a final glide to goal - I had no idea where goal was, except it was a physical white line in a field somewhere ahead.

Dumb luck and a few minutes later, I was the first to cross the line. From that moment on, racing these nylon contraptions through the sky is one of the few things I do that makes me feel really alive.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about why I compete, thinking really hard about what motivates me. I've found lots and lots of reason, but it wasn't until recently that I found a reason that is sustainable, a reason that is simple and timeless, and will keep me coming back for more no matter how well I do or no matter what happens - I race because I love playing the game.

See you in the Blue...