Friday, January 18, 2013

Booming last day.

The forecast for the last day was for clouds at 12,000' and strong lift.  The wind was 30km out the west so the task committee called an out and return 193km to the north.  It would turn out to be a very tough task.

Bobby towed me the last day and I was hoping he would take it easy on me.  It was an uneventful tow to about 1500' when he started to thermal with me.  A couple other pilots were close so I pinned off and started to climb with some help around me.  Turned out not to be the best thermal.  The thermal was drifting fast.  I only got to 6000' and drifted all the way to Forbes.  The clock ticked over 1:40pm for the first start.  I was low and already 10km off the course line.  How on earth was I ever going to make any progress on this massive task?  I briefly thought about just calling it a day and landing back at the airport.  Instead I headed down course.  Where ever I land I don't really care.  After a short glide I hit some better lift taking me over 8000'.  With a little more height and the promise of better lift I worked my way up wind trying to get more on the course line.  Next thermal was 1000'/min to 12,000'.  Now this was more like the forecast.  Davis said the lift would shut down at five so I started to push hard.  Passing any lift less than 800'/min I went on a long glide until I slammed into a solid 1000'/min down at 5000'asl.  It turned into 1200-1400'/min all the way back to base.  My next long glide took me down to 1500' where I had to claw my way back to base.  From here I stayed high to the turn point before the long trip back.  I connected with Jamie for a bit but was too tired to work with her and soon lost her.  I was ready to land any time and the lift seemed was getting weaker.  Even though I was tired I was holding out some hope I might make it back.  I hit a solid climb at 6:00pm that took me back to 12,000'.  If the day would keep working for a couple more hours I could make it in.  Not likely I could fly til 8 but I was going to give it my best.  I worked some lift getting to 7-8000' but fighting against a 20km/hr head wind it was apparent I wasn't going to make it.  I landed with in minutes of my team, Linda and Jamie getting about 10km further.  After nearly six hours in the air I made 154km of the task.  I've had enough flying for a few days. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Using the force.

Forecast was really good for today.  Forecast for clouds for the first time this comp.  Pilots have been complaining too many pilots have been making goal and the tasks have been too easy.  So today's task was 270km box back to Forbes.  I had a weak link break while the tug was trying to thermal with me.  I got a good climb to 7000' plenty early enough to make it to the edge of the start circle for the first start.  I went to the edge of the start with 3 other pilots and had to go out side the 30km start circle to get to cloud base.  We got high just as the time ticked over and I ran back 1km to get a start and headed out on course.  I ended up with one other pilot and was really happy to be with him.  We were going fast and he was getting very poor glides.  Every thermal I would arrive at least 500' higher than him.  I made a mistake stopping for a climb he missed and lost track of him.  On my next glide I ended up low and alone.  Finally getting high again I was back on track.  After rounding the first turn point I lost power to my instrument.  I climbed as high as I dare with out knowing how high I was as the cloud suck was strong if you got too close.  I would turn on my instrument once in a while to make sure I was heading to the turn point and get some track log points.  With such a long task I was getting tired and losing my motivation.  A couple pilots had caught up to me but I just wasn't interest in flying any more and picked out a place to land.  I made it about half way around the course but was not happy with my instrument going dead.  I put all new battery's in it before I flew.  Last time I buy what ever the store has.  Last day tomorrow.

Not enough day.

Had a pretty good start for the 200km triangle today.  Left at the first start with Tyler, Jamie and a couple other pilots.  Lost Tyler fairly quickly and was left with Jamie and I think the Japanese girl.  We were flying well together with out much trouble.  Another pilot joined us and didn't like our turn direction so just did his own thing.  I wasn't really connecting with the core Jamie was in and being pissed at the pilot turning the opposite direction I just left and went on my own.  I wasn't climbing well but staying off the ground and moving forward.  The lift was pleasant but was hard to get over 6000'.  I kept plugging away until late in the day.  Working light lift not getting over 4000' creeping closer to goal.  At 7:00pm I landed about 55km from goal.  Kind of freaked out the home owner working in the yard when she saw me walking up with my glider.  Very nice couple, as are most people out here are.  I'm sure I would have gotten further if I would stuck with Jamie.  I really need to try and stick with people.  Another day tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A pleasant day in the out back

Today was much cooler reaching a high temperature of 32c.  At home that would seem like a very hot day but today it was just pleasant.  The forecast was for strong lift, low top of lift and 30km/hr winds.  With this information the task committee set a straight down wind task to hermid, a 250km task.  Given to low top of lift I was thinking this would be a tall order. 

I had a great start today.   I was the last to tow up and was dropped in a great thermal.  I hooked up with a couple other pilots and worked my way to the edge of the start circle.  I arrived at a perfect time and was right in the mix with a big gaggle for the second start.  We went charging off as the clock ticked over.  It was nice to finally have so many pilots to fly with and I didn't have to tangle with them for an hour before the start.  At the first climb we were split into a few different groups but all got up fast and charged forward.  I was in a good spot higher than many pilots just in front of me making it easy to keep track of the pilots in front of me.  We went on a long glide and pilots were getting low.  They had stopped to climb but as some of us arrived over top of the them we found nothing.  Every one at my height stopped and started turning in crappy broken lift any way.  Floundering around in this useless lift I some how found myself on the bottom of the pack.  I hit a strong core I banked up to get into it a some jerk off came flying right through the middle of it, cutting me off making me have to hunt for it again.  I did finally connect with it again but buy this time I had lost the gaggle.  I slowed down a bit taking every climb to the top as I didn't like the low base.  I had a long glide in some huge sink.  I was a little concerned as I was coming up on a huge forest that was going to require some height to get over or a long trip around it.  Just before the forest I found some lift and managed to claw my way back up again with enough height to make the crossing.  Again I got hit with some big sink flying across the forest.  This left me low on the other side hoping for some lift.  Down to under 1000' I hit some lift but not the core.  I had a good field below me but searching was going to put me over less friendly looking ground.  I just didn't want to risk a bad position in a strong wind that you couldn't penetrate into.  I ended my flight hitting more lift at 50' making my approach even more of a pain.  Not a very graceful landing but back on the ground safe.  I had no cell coverage but with the spot my driver gets my position with out having to phone and I was picked up just after getting all my gear to the side of the road.  I made it about half way down the course.  Part of me wishes I would have dug in and tried to get back up but it's good to be able to fly again tomorrow.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blown away.

The task today was a 240km dog leg.  The forecast was uncertain due to the location of the trough line.  Some pilots had concerns with forecast winds of 50-70km/hr winds.  I took a tow behind the trike today and couldn't stay in position behind it.  The tow line went slack several times and I was amazed I never broke the weak link.  I was dumped off in sink and got drilled all the way to the ground.  Second tow was a little easier but still couldn't connect with any good lift.  I hit some strong surges but the lift was blown apart and very hard to track.  I landed near the edge of the start circle in 30km/hr winds which turned out to be less than those that landed further down course.  Would have been better to take a rest day today.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cold in Australia.

Today's task was 198km hook like task.  The first 100km was cross tail wind then turning more into the wind over the next 100km.  Davis didn't have a lot of confidence in the forecast due to some mid level cloud that the models don't take into account.  I didn't really like the call given the uncertainty of the forecast and sending pilot into a 20km/hr head wind over unlandable forest seemed like a bad idea.  I liked it even less as I approached the forest.

The tow paddock was stinking hot again today.  47c I think was the high temp.  I soaked my self behind the water truck watering the field which made it bearable setting up my glider before relaxing under it waiting for my turn to launch.  This idea caught on an several pilots started running after the water truck.  Tyler asked me "has Jamie thought this through", as she went running into the stream of water wearing white short.  "Nope" was my reply as she exited now wearing skin colored shorts.

I got towed up behind the trike today but broke a weak link at 600'.  The second tow was a real radio too, not sure how that weak link survived.  I was waved off just after towing through a thermal and went back and slowly started to climb out.  The wind was strong and I was drifting fast towards the edge of the start circle.  It was already past the first start time so I just kept going with it as I wasn't really worried about my start time on such a tough task.  I had one pilot working well below me but it was a near by bird that finally helped me get up to 8000'.  I headed of to the first forest and found some lift to drift over several km of unlandable terrain.  I saw a combat that just kept going right by me.  Later Paris told me it was him and he hit some huge sink and just about didn't make it across.  He landed shortly after.  Said he wish he would have stopped with me.  He was in second place going into the day and may have had a shot at winning but this will kill his chances.  I just kept drifting as the mid level cloud really seemed to be suppressing the lift in this area.  Once I got around the first turn point I hit the moon.  Really strong climb that took me to 12,000'.  Now I was really cold, thinking about how hot it was on the ground.  45c on the ground and 13c at 12,000'.  I stayed high for as long as I could pushing against the massive head wind.  I finally got low and landed 130km out about the time the task was stopped.  It was raining pilots where I landed so should be in the thick of the scoring.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Conditions much better.

Today's task was 180km dog leg off to the south(not that I know my directions here).  The forecast was for 20km winds, lift to 8000' and strong climbs.  I towed up last as I am not staging in the proper line.  I would be at the end of one line with my team at the end of the other so I just go to the back of their line and tow up last.  Doesn't make much difference but at least this way I have some help.  I got waived off by myself with no lift today and was a bit of work getting up over the airport.  Once I got up I managed to hook up with a few other pilots and we headed up wind in the start circle to get a better run to the first turn point.  It seem we were waiting for the second start time but I couldn't be bothered on a 180km task so I headed out.

Jamie followed me and we flew most of the flight together.  We are working really well together finding the core's.  We don't have radio contact so she is reluctant to lead out ahead of me.  We were going along pretty good but as the day was getting late I was above her and just couldn't wait.  If I wanted to make goal I need to hurry up before I ran out of day.  Davis had mentioned it was hilly and the elevation came up 2000' at goal.  This turned out to be a real problem late in the day.  I could find lift and dribble along but the landing options were becoming sparse.  With out being able to get up I just flew back and landed by the hi way next to a Japanese pilot.  We were all picked up before we got our gliders in the bag and made it town for dinner.

I've been doing a little better each day which was what I was hoping for.  We'll try to start picking up the pace over the next few days.