Monday, March 23, 2009

The Tank

Post comp blues have set in, it happens after every comp for me.

Free flying just isn't as exciting as comp flying, but we have one task left in the weekend-warrior series called the Mystic Cup, and then I guess I need to set some goals to stay interested in flying...

I'm already thinking about the West Coast Paragliding Championships, held at Woodrat Mountain, 31 May.

stay tuned...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Final Task - Bright Open

Task 4

Today saw the best conditions we have had in at least a month - beautiful CU showing the way, with base at about 3500 meters.  The morning air had that high pressure light blue hazy look to it, and not a whisp of cloud in sight, but a big front to the south and a forcasted trough developing over us brought in some instability that gave us some stellar conditions. 

The task was very racy - and we had some wind, but not as much as other days, so you could really step on the bar for most of the day and get that average speed up...  The task was well set, the winning time was 52 seconds past minimum valid time, which is 1 hr 30 mins.  Shockingly Craig Collings came in second!  Craig Donnell won the day.

Memorable moments for me were just after tagging the first turnpoint and heading downwind over Goldmine ridge just behind the lead gaggle but higher and watching the worst line of the comp happen just to my left.  I was deviating slightly right back towards the cloud line loosing no height and on full bar going 50-60km while watching a white boom5 lead out and loose 3 thousand feet in a few minutes...  The sink alarm was echoing through the valley...

The line from Smoko, the downwind turnpoint, to Pyramid was kind of painful - full bar the whole time and keeping the glider in a straight line was the only way to conserve the hard won altitude, but it sure was better than the nail-biting full-mash into the leeside of Clearspot that we did so many times in the previous tasks.

Once over Pyramid, I was alone in the climb to base and I was thinking carefully about when to cut and run as the black bottomed beauty above me was hungry for nylon.  My vario showed I was approaching 3000 meters, and then I remembered....

On Full-bar and ears and pointing towards the blue hole to the north I watched the vario start climbing, nothing to worry about, big blue hole ahead.  While watching the vario tick towards 3100 I suddenly recalled the one rule that can ruin your day, that thing called airspace...  

The vario never got to 3100, but as I knew well enough, I should have been looking at the GPS altitude, oh well, I wasn't going up now, so I either broke it or I didn't, and throwing spirals under a sucking cloud is kind of senseless anyway.

The curving line of clouds over Apex was a good way to get to the next TP, but there was big sink when you crossed into the blue over the valley, but that got me to the Black Fellas turnpoint with enough height to run up ridge to Clearspot and grovel around for a climb which finally came.  Andrew H, Gaven, JJ, and Ivan joined in after I centered an ugly little core that finally got better. 

We all headed towards the Freeburg spur turpoint with tons of height, but I could tell Gaven was in a hurry and based on the 200+ points I had between me and the pilot below in the overal scores, I had no reason to rush so I stayed a little higher.  Crossing Gold Mine and not finding much lift was disappointing, but I did a couple more turns in some light stuff and watched as Gaven and crew dove in to tag the Freeburg spur TP... 

I don't like the lee of Goldmine so I let them test the waters, and they found a weak climb over the valley and only made a few turns, and they left with a 5/1 glide to goal, but there is a lot of solid rock between them and goal...  I didn't come this far to sweat the last bit, so when they left, I stayed for a bit more height and I think Andrew came back to join me.  We watched as they plummeted into the lee side of Goldmine, putting a kilometer of rock between them and goal and sinking into places that I didn't even want to think about.

Our climb slowed and we needed one more climb to make goal a sure thing, so I left with just enough height to reach the saddle behind Gold Mine which must love me as I always find a climb there, and sure enough a beauty was waiting.  Andrew dove in under me and I cored up until I had a 3-1 to goal - there was no one near us to race in, so it might as well be a relaxing final glide, and we slid into goal 7th and 8th place.  Gavin pulled a miracle and later made it in, JJ and Ivan didn't.

This was my best finish of the comp, but inside my tracklog were a few numbers that held the answer to whether this would be my best finish of the comp, or just another free fly...

Lets just say that it was close - I spent 45 seconds in the red zone getting 16 meters too high, and that's all you need to get a zero for the day.  Dropping 13 places in the comp will help me remember to leave a little earlier next time...

Ahh, well, scores come and go, and what you learn is what you take with you, and I learned a lot and had a good time - out of all the comps this season, this one had the most quality tasks.  Benn and Hamish worked really hard to make it happen, and so did many other people, and I hope to make it again next year.

Comp results are here.  PS:  This was a "no reserves tossed" comp.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Task 3 - Bright Open

We had a tough task today, tough because the end of the day was on in spots and off in others, and you just had to take your chances.

The task was different in that after the typical Smoko run, we had to push up valley into a fair bit of wind to get the 2nd to last TP, and then we had to cross over the Clearspot/Black Fellas range to get to goal at the Porepunkah Airstrip.

I had a perfect start but a couple turnpoints later, I ended up alone on Clearspot..  I can't remember how that happened...  Ivan came in below me, and I finally found a climb and watched him really scratch for a long time, then run down the spur still unable to find a climb.  Usually Clearspot is just cranking thermals out, I've never sunk out there, and usually get the best climb of the day there, but today it was funky.

Nothing was happening at Black Fellas, kind of unusual too, and I joined up with Gaven and Craig Donnell out in the valley and Gaven went for the Burr's and Craig and I went straight for the Valley Homestead TP.  I couldn't keep up with Craig on his comp glider and was alone again just before the VH turnpoint.  With VH tagged, and moving downwind finally, the problem was Black Fellas was bathed in huge shade, so I went for the sun hoping to find a thermal on the ever present late evening boomers coming off the ends of the fingers that touch the valley.

It's funny, but every time I come into goal at the main LZ, there are huge thermals just before goal, but if goal is somewhere else, those thermals are somewhere else...

I slide into Little Mystic below ridge height, just barely tagging the TP, and then found some beeps, but couldn't get into the elevator, and game over.  Ivan must have found his climb as he made it in...  Tenacity pays dividends...

Tomorrow is the last day, my plan is to make goal...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bright Open T2

We got in the second task in today.  It was shorter because stronger winds were forecast - but that didn't happen and so Craig Collings got around in under minimum time...  

I enjoyed the task today, it was shorter and we were getting higher so the transistions worked instead of sucked like yesterday.

Yesterday the End of speed section was 2k, today it was 1k, and that is why I thought the start cylinder was 1k instead of 2k, which goes to show that brain synapsis follow random patterns all the time....

Dave Wheeler says he has thought about putting rear view mirrors on his helmet, and I could have used some today, I left Gold Mine on glide for Clear Spot with 2 pilots in front of me, but if I had looked behind, I would have noticed that Geoff Wong and Heike's line from Gold Mine to Clearspot was way way better than mine, I arrived below the peak, they arrived 1600 meters above it.  I need to do neck stretches I guess.

Tomorrow is another day - stay tuned.  Scores are here.


Task One (I lost an entry, so Task One is posted here)

We got a task in today.  It was just like yesterday's task, except no one crashed, so we got to bash ourselves into lots of headwind around the mother of all zig zag course-lines.

The most memorable part of the course was coming back to Launch after the third turn point and getting stuck there for what seemed like an hour, yo-yo'ing around hoping the next thermal was stronge than the last and that we would get another chance to bash into the wind, and into the lee side of the next peak called Clearspot.

Only four into goal - Craig Collings, Andrew Horshner, Craig Donnell, Fred Gungle, in that order.   These guys were in the group that made the crazy dive into Clearspot early in the day, they surfed the spine up out of Baker's Gully and made it up onto Clearspot, we watched and just scratched our heads....  and then continued our yo-yo contest over Mystic...

 - stay tuned.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bright Open 2009 - Task One, Almost

The comp started Saturday and the weather has been horrible, until today.  We had a SW aloft and NW coming up the valley down low, and that might explain why the task was a 52km zig zag skally wag never getting that far away from launch.  

We got in the air, and up to a nice cloud base and got started on the course, but a pilot crashed into the trees near launch and the paramedics called in the helo, so that stopped the task.

I hear his injuries were not severe, but they couldn't have been minor if they called the helo...  I hope he recovers quickly and hate it when one of our own gets hurt doing something that should be easy and fun...

Anyway, we tried and tomorrow is another day - stay tuned.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to Influence the Weather

If you want to fly with really amazing clouds, actually the best clouds of the whole flying season - I have a simple technique for you - leave your camera at home.

Two days ago we had a lot of instability that made the sky 'go off' here in Bright - so we flew away from the mountains where it was going to OD, and out onto the flats where the clouds were tall but with narrow bases, and it was cloud flying nirvana... just like connecting the dots on those 'draw by the numbers' coloring books you did as a kid...

I could have gone really far (excuses, excuses..) but my unofficial retrieve drivers were on vacation and I didn't want to stress test that relationship, so I went cross-wind to the biggest town in the flats where I knew they could find me, and petrol, etc

We spent the log weekend in Corryong with the Melbourne club, and the Amerikaners were there too, so we flew hard and did nice 4+ hour triangles.  We flew 3 days at Corryong - Corry takes a west wind and Bright gets rough and ugly in a west...  I highly recommend that site if you have a driver.

The last big comp of the season starts Saturday, the Bright Open...  let the weather gods smile on us.  Pic is of Geoff Wong over Mt. Mittamatite, just NW of Mt Elliot, the launch at Corryong.

Blue skies!