Saturday, August 29, 2009

Post Nationals Thoughts

When I have a really bad day, I don't look at the scores - that would be like stabbing yourself with a pencil.

All you comp pilots know what I mean. Flying comps can be really stressful, but most of the pressure is pressure we put on ourselves.

I used to take comps way to seriously, back then I felt like I needed to prove something, as if my self-worth was on the line - stupid thoughts, I know, and it wasn't all that much fun. Then I began to realize that nobody gives a shit about my score, and that it doesn't matter anyway because scores come and go, they are temporary, just like everything else...

So lately I have been trying a new approach to calm my pre-launch anxiety, I call it the "I don't give a fuck" approach.

If I feel the pressure starting to build, I tell myself that "I am just going for a fly..." which is more truth that fiction, and I focus on launching and getting up, like it was just another weekend boat-around session.

That works pretty well, except it fails if you have a task like the last task of the US Nationals at Inspo. On that day, the absolute crux of the task was the first 20 minutes spent scratching along the steep rock wall to the south and way below launch, using every trick in the book just to maintain my position on the wall. It would have been so easy to give up, on safety grounds alone - No terrain clearance, flying a comp glider with solid rock below, tiny thermals bubbling through, and to top it off, droves of wings landing just below me in a deep green football field - proving how futile the whole effort really was.

But it wasn't futile - I watched Brad Gunn ridge surfing just above me, patiently waiting for a little bubble to come through and when it did, he didn't let once ounce of hot air get by him, - he did figure 8's and keeping his wing in the tiny chimney of lift. He managed to slowly gain altitude and leave the rest of us scrabbling below like desperate guppies trying to find the way out of the tiny fish tank. I held on, and kept scratching as if my life depended on it. Sure enough, a small bubble came through, and after gaining some height and seeing it was a real thermal, I moved out front slowly to find the stronger center and it was my ticket out of hell and away from the hot cliff below...

Once we got above 1000 meters, the thermals were good, predictable, and reliable, and the rest of the day was easy, cheesy, and a lot of fun. Well, easy until the final glide which I mis-judged and landed 1.5 km short of goal, giving up almost 200 points because I left the last thermal early to beat a couple gliders in - man, where is that pencil...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

US NATS - Task 7

I just got home after a 10 hour drive. Yesterday was the last day of the Nats and we tasked. We had a late start because a fire broke out right on our course line - no one had launched yet, so a new tasked was called...

Conditions were weird, it was going to be a slow starting day due to high cirrus clouds. The race started a 4pm and was a 50k task south, then north, then to the LZ below our launch.

The start was wicked hard - I was ridge soaring for 15 minutes not gaining anything, way low and to the south of launch. Finally a bubble came through and I climbed out. Running the course was straight forward. I was behind but caught a lot of people, and I felt like racing a little harder - on the 3 days I made goal I was coming in way to high.

I left the last big thermal over the top of whatever the mountain to the south of launch is, and ran out into the valley to tag the Stouff TP. From there I had goal on a 10:1, the 6030 said I had 2000 ft over goal, so I left. I will never believe the "alt over goal" field again!

The glide started good, then went to shit, so I tucked into the terrain, where I saw Hayden just in front. That line was even worse, so I went out to the valley and tried to maximize my glide. I wasn't going to make it, then as I got down low, my glide improved, I was getting 12:1 and looking at goal but it was to close to continue as there was no where to land between me and goal, and then I crossed the end of speed section and landed in the only big field around.

The final glide was weird, many pilots landed short - it was the one day where extra altitude was needed if you had a chance to get in.

The comp is over, what amazing weather. Good organization, great tasks, and a lot of fun.

Final results are here.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

US NATS - Task 6

Light winds enabled us to get a 110km (60+ mile) task in that went south then way north and back south to the flight park at Point of the Mountain. I'm staying at HQ, which is right next to the flight park, and it sure is nice to land 100 yards from where I am staying, open a cold beer and fold up on a perfectly mancured lawn.

A few pilots got to 14k, but the group I was with saw more modest climbs to 12k, and not as high for the second half of the task. The race started at 3pm, and one pilot came in just before goal closed at 8pm. Josh and Farmer crossed the finish line at the same time, one will win the day based on leading points.

The forecast is for pre-frontal conditions today, so we may or may not get a task in, which wouldn't be so bad considering we have tasked 6 days in a row now.

Results are Here

Thursday, August 20, 2009

US NATS - Task 5

Light wind, stable conditions, and a huge task of 111 km. Start was at 2:30 but it didn't really turn on until about 4pm, so a ton of people only made a few kms, and maybe half the field got on course. Three pilots in goal, several more just short because they couldn't get the End of Speed section which was up on the hill.

A lot of people had a good day flying. The scores should shake up the rankings a bit.

Tomorrow looks flyable...

US NATS - Task 4

Much friendlier conditions today. We had an 89km task going south along the range, same course as T2, but a bit farther, ending at a tiny town called Lavan. NW winds were forcasted, but we had to use lots of bar all the time to go anywhere, although it was easier going in the beginning and harder at the end, which was opposite of what it was like for T2.

About 10 in goal, a bunch of us landed 10km short. I had a really good start for a change, and got to fly with the lead gaggle up until the end, where I didn't realize where goal was, which is something that sure helps... I think I was in the air for about 5 hours. I got to 11,500 a couple times, in some fast climbs.

Mads was in first, then Matty Senior. A whole lot of the usual suspects were not in goal today, so the scores should shift around quite a bit.

Tomorrow looks flyable.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

US NATS - Task 2 & 3

Hello all and sorry about the late posts.

A little about task 2 and 3. Task 2 was long, it took me just under 4 hours to get through the 65km course. Start was at 3pm, so I landed just before 7pm. We went south from Inspo pushing into a headwind for 3/4 of the course, then the range that we flew along hooked to the right and the valley went North/South again. At this 'corner' it shaded out and we had to ridge soar for 15 mins up the shallow face covered with burnt trees, until we got back into the high range. The sun came out and I got boosted to 11,500. Now we had a strong tail wind into goal at NarAir, a small airstrip. We didn't get home until about 10pm. The air was much smoother than task One. Climbs were mostly to 11-12,000 ft. A large fire started behind us, and it became huge. Almost 30 in goal. Mads Snydergardd won the day, 20 minutes in front of the lead gaggle.

Task 3 was into a headwind again, but this was due to yesterdays fire to the south. The day started out mild with a little overcast, but that burned off fast and conditions became burly. We flew north from Inspo, pushing right up against the front of the range, some people flew just a few hundred feet above the 9000+ ridge top. I wanted more terrain clearance. Very strong thermals were mixed in with the strong head wind, and we had to cross several huge canyons, it was the most committing flying I have ever done, and we were only 1/3 into the course.

Lone peak is a high point in the range, and has a small lake in back of it, we climbed in the lee of the pinnacle - there was no other way. The top of lift was about 12k, but the drift put us behind the ridge and it was hard to fly over the ridge as we still had to push into a NW wind. I cleared it, which was the crux of the task for me, probably because I had to clear a small cravat while en route. Now more into the wind to the TP at Hounds, which is a pinnacle of rock lower down on the face of the front range. Not long after I hit hounds, I heard the wind picked up and very few gliders were able to get the Hounds TP.

After Hounds it was downwind to the North side of the Point of the Mountain flight park. The wind picked up a lot. For the last leg, I hung onto any lift cause I was getting low, and I let Darius get out in front where he found a boomer that got us high enough to go on final glide, thanks Darius. About 15 minutes later we landed with very little penetration, that makes 2 days in a row. I think Josh won the day at just under 90 mins. Many people were happy with the shorter task (it was originally longer). about 20 in goal.

The temps go way up for the next couple of days and we should get much higher. Time for the 02 system, thanks to Joe Evans for lending it to me.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

US Nationals Task 1

We had a 50+km task today from Inspo. Conditions were challenging in many ways and for people that aren't used to it, the terrain is a bit intimidating.

Maybe 10 made goal today. Scores aren't up yet, but will be posted here.

We did have an injury out on course, I hear a broken leg.

Tomorrow sounds like it may be better.