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.



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