Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Golden: Canadian PG Nationals

When we woke up yesterday morning it was pretty strong from the NW and projected to stay strong all day, so we postponed any trip up the mountain until 4pm, when we would reconvene.

At 4pm we reconvened and decided it was still too windy, and the wind wasn't projected to drop until later on (too late to have a task). So we called the day off and let people go and do other things. People went mountain biking, kayaking, took a drive to Banff, and we also had a spirited (both literally and metaphorically) volleyball game at the LZ. And in the evening we had a movie night, where we showed the DVD "Manilla Sky" (about the PG Worlds in Manilla).

Today looks much better...north winds dropping off as the day goes on and turning to south, so it looks like we may do a massive out and return to keep people in the air all day.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Golden: Canadian PG Nationals

Today was an epic Golden day. There was still some instability left over from last night, and it was creating some nice clouds, some of them getting quite big, but we felt that it wasn’t going to overdevelop. So we decided on a 83 km task from the gravel pits (we didn’t want pilots to be thermalling for a long time over Mt. 7 while waiting for the start, so we made the start at the gravel pits) to the Spur Valley LZ goal field (right next to the Spur Valley golf course). We put a 2 km End of Speed section around goal, so people wouldn’t be putting bar on all the way to the ground, and could come in the last little bit safely.

We waited for some cycles of shade to go away, then we started launching. Conditions on launch were a bit too cross for the south launch, but still cross for the west launch, so people were trying from both sides, with differing amounts of success. The top 20 pilots from yesterday had priority, which meant I was able to go in the lineup whenever I wanted (nice!).

When I launched it was only a few minutes to the start, but the start cylinder was just a couple of km away so it wasn’t a big deal, and I was able to get high enough to tag the start along with everyone else. Then it was off south down the range!

Initially it was quite technical air, with lots of rough spots and pilots bailing out since the conditions were very “industrial”. I got low over on Pagliaro with Mary Devietti, and ended up scratching my way along below the treeline until Willi’s knob, where I finally got high enough to get above the peaks. Marty joined me and then it was a straight line race almost!

At this point it was very west up high, and everyone was ridge soaring the peaks at around 3100m (cloudbase was way higher though…it just wasn’t necessary to get that high to keep going!), crabbing down the range at 40-50 km/h. There was very little stopping or turning involved for the next 50 km or so; we just slowed down in the good stuff, and pushed bar the rest of the time. I think it’s the most I’ve been on bar during an XC flight. I didn’t use my trimmers since I wanted to be able to jump off the speed quickly when I needed to, and the bar is quicker to let off than trimmers are. So I ended up with some jiggly legs at times (probably some adjustments to still do on the harness).

I had one epic when I hit a thermal while on bar and did some impromptu SIV over the peaks, but sorted it out and continued on to the Spilli gap where the range splits. Up till now the air had been relatively tame, but once we hit the gap it got snarly again. But there was only 20 km to go to goal, and the valley was lifting all over the place. So once again we all pushed bar down the middle of the valley for the last 20 km, making the goal field in just over 2 hours. I left for goal when my GPS showed a 10:1 glide. I think that’s the fastest many of us have flown 83 km!

In goal it was north winds, quite strong, and everyone was coming straight down. We were glad we didn’t go with the earlier task, which was to fly to Radium (90 km) since it was plenty windy at Spur Valley.

In the end it looks like there are 31 people in goal (see below).

We had one incident…Peter Breitchneider ended up getting blown back behind launch and landed in a clearcut next to the Trans-Canada highway (over the back). He landed OK and hiked out OK; thankfully he didn’t end up in the river or on the actual highway itself (big trucks!).

We are so glad to finally have a “classic” Golden day, where we can show all the visiting pilots just what Golden can be like when it’s on. The forecast is calling for more sunny weather for the next 4-5 days, so it looks like this is gonna be a very valid comp!

Day 2, Top 10 (Provisional) results

1. Messenger, Jamie (1000)
2. Zahner, Gavin (931)
3. Devietti, Marty (897)
4. Beechinor, Matt (893)
5. Dadam, Matt (892)
6. McCallough, Keith (879)
7. Izadi, Amir (767)
8. Riggs, Josh (759)
9. McLearn, Nicole (751)
10. Thompson, James (746)

Fastest time was 2:10!

Overall results (after 2 days)

1. Messenger, Jamie (1653)
2. Beechinor, Matt (1572)
3. Zahner, Gavin (1511)
4. MacCullough, Keith (1492)
5. Dadam, Matt (1414)
6. Izadi, Amir (1330)
7. Thompson, James (1303)
8. Riggs, Josh (1292)
9. Christiansen, Mike (1288)
10. McLearn, Nicole (1245)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Golden: Canadian PG Nationals

Day 1 of the Nats and it started off with free breakfast at the GEAR LZ (included in meet fee, will happen every morning). Then the initial pilot's meeting to get some stuff sorted out, then up the hill.

David and Lee (from Manilla) are originally logistics officers with the Australian military, so they are perfect for organizing the rides up and retrieves. Everyone has a vehicle to go up in, and a dedicated driver to drive it back down and chase after along the main road. It's pretty cool how people are showing up and volunteering to do small things for the organization, like make sandwiches for all the pilots every day, do the sign in, laying out gliders on launch, etc.

Anyways, up on launch it was pretty strong south winds, so we decided to hold off on a task until later in the evening when the conditions would die down a bit. In the meantime a bunch of us went hiking up to upper launch for a look-see, while others went back down the mountain to do other things for the afternoon.

We reconvened and set a task for 6pm, a fishbowl-style task designed to keep people local so they wouldn't have to be retrieved from a long ways away and miss the day 1 BBQ and party, courtesy of Muller Windsports. (Not a typical Golden task, but given the lateness of the day and our wanting to give lots of pilots a happy flight, we decided on this.) The task was launch to the Kapristo gap, to the gravel pit, back to launch, back to the Kapristo gap, back to launch, over to the west side of the valley, and into Nicholson LZ for a total of 35 km.

Well things turned out even better than we hoped (or worse, depending on how you look at it). Just about everyone made goal, since during the afternoon a forest fire to the west of the valley started up, creating it's own weather, and seemed to converge with the prevailing south conditions. This convergence happened right over Mt. 7 so people were doing the course with little turning required, and very fast. I think the first person into goal took only 45 minutes! So the day will be devalued a bit since it was completed too quickly, but everyone is happy, safe, back in time for the party, and stoked for some more km-munching flights in the next few days.

We are still doing scoring, but I think the first person into goal was either Jamie Messenger or Farmer (it was quite tight supposedly). We'll see in the morning just how many people made goal, but it looks like about 60-70% of the field did so!

All the American pilots are talking about how amazing this place is...how you can either fly early or late, but we can still have a task that starts the race at 7pm, and fly until 10pm, and still be making goal at that time of night. Now we just need to show them what Golden can be like when you can launch early and head downrange all day...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Golden

Woke to sunny skies and south winds, picking up as the morning went on. A bunch of us decided to go swimming at Cedar Lake for the afternoon, and go flying in the evening when the south winds would diminish.

Up to launch around 7pm and it was still strong south, but dying. Kevin Ault showed up to do a tandem...haven't seen any more Fraser Valley pilots though. I waited until around 6:30pm when it switched west and launched off the NW side.

Basically a repeat of yesterday...nice mellow thermals all over the place, glassing off in the valley, and people flying until 10pm, getting to 3500m. There's a lot of pilots here (and a lot of Americans) for the comp which starts tomorrow. We've got 80 people registered and paid up, so we are full!

Breakfast (included in meet fee) tomorrow morning and pilot meeting afterwards. Then we'll go up and fly! The weather is saying more sun and hot temperatures for the next few days.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Golden

Off to Golden for about 10 days of flying. My new harness had just come in (Advance Impress 2, had to wait for the small to be developed) so I stopped in Vernon to pick it up, and then on to Golden. When I arrived it was about 6:45pm, and there was a ride going up at 7pm, so I quickly switched harnesses and up the mountain I went.

Up on launch nice west cycles and people were still boating around. I got ready and tried to figure out how to launch a pod harness (my first one) without tripping on the lizard tail, but it turned out to not be a big deal at all.

Once out in the air I got settled and started to thermal. Made my way over the ridge that runs down to the valley and found a nice thermal which took me to the summit of Mt. 7, and then onwards to 3000m. It was nice smooth conditions (it was after 8pm by now), and seemed to be glassing off. Eventually I decided to fly out over the valley to make some in-flight harness adjustments, and figured I'd have about 20 minutes to do that on the ride out to the LZ.

But the glassing off was in full force and while I was busy fiddling with my harness, I was going up the entire time. Gentle 0.5-1 m/s stuff; I wasn't bothering turning in any of it but I stayed around 1800m over the valley for over 1 hour while I explored all the new developments in the town, the new cutblocks over on the Kicking Horse side of the valley, flying over the small lakes on the bench, etc etc. Total flight time was about 1.5 hours.

Eventually through spirals, wing overs, and generally goofing off I was able to get down and landed on the nice grass in the LZ. The harness was super-comfy and I felt right at home on it (and stayed nice and warm too, without the benefit of a flight suit!).

GEAR has undergone some changes since last year. There's now a new barn-like building, which is going to be used for meetings, movie nights, etc. and will likely be used as meet HQ for the Canadian PG Nats (which start Sunday). There is additional tent camping spots too at the meadow next to the warming hut. And of course free wireless right at the LZ so you can blog your flight as soon as you land!

Tomorrow is looking good weather-wise...sunny and 32+C. There was nice development through Rogers Pass today, so tomorrow should be unstable too, but not too much. Pilots are showing up in droves...the campground is filling up fast and when you drive through Golden you can see HG's on trucks all over the place, and cars full of PG gear. It's flying season in Golden!