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)

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