Friday, August 3, 2007

Golden: Canadian PG Nationals

The weather today was calling for instability, 40% chance of precipitation and chance of thunderstorms, so we called a short and quick task since we thought it may overdevelop, and advised the safety committee to keep an eye on things. Launch and go to the gravel pit for a 2pm start, then head to the Kapristo gap, back to launch, up to Mt. 7, over to Moberly Peak, and land at the Donald station goal, for a total of 55.6 km.

The winds were a bit strong from the SW so the launches off the south launch were a bit exciting, and in fact some people decided not to launch. The strong SW winds meant no going in the lee of any ridge, and people were being very careful to stay upwind of any LZ. I launched and got low and ended up ridge soaring the tits until just before the start, and was able to get the start and catch up to everyone who was at Mt. 7 peak height.

Over Mt. 7 we had an incredible climb to about 4000m, 7-9 m/s, and cloudbase was still way above us! But it was a scary ride…with the varios screaming in a continuous tone the whole way up, we were afraid to fall out the side and hit the 7-9 m/s down! Some pilots recorded 10-12 m/s at times! And it was getting very cold. Made me glad for the warmth of a pod :)

After that incredible climb it was off to Moberly peak. It was downwind at this point so we all thought we had Donald on glide, and only had to make a short detour to Moberly on the way by. We were wrong! Just as we got to Moberly, the SW winds switched to north winds, and strong, and we watched our ground speeds drop to single digits.

I was forced to ridge soar Moberly for a while, and eventually noticed a bunch of clouds forming in the Blaeberry valley gap opening, and pushed upwind to them. I was going slow, but I was climbing steadily all the time, and by the time I hit the other side of the gap I was back to 3500m (without turning!). Other pilots who had chosen a different line (down the middle of the valley) weren’t doing so well and in fact some of them were landing short of goal.

With this altitude I had Donald station goalfield on glide easily (even with the headwind), but the people ahead of me who had just made goal were saying it was gusting to 40 kph in the LZ due to the large black massive cloud coming down the lake from past Donald. They were advising pilots to turn around and run away after tagging goal, and land someplace else (preferably a larger field if possible). (This is allowed in a comp…you don’t have to land at the goal field, just reach it.)

I was riding the clouds (convergence?) and was over the goalfield at 3000m, and decided to take their advice and run back towards Golden. There was a LZ partyway back that many pilots were choosing to land at that the north winds hadn’t yet hit (next to the Columbia river) and I headed that way. Bill Belcourt was with me and decided to try to try to fly all the way back to Golden, but I saw a big blue hole in that direction, and the reports that it was still strong SW in Golden, so I opted to land as soon as possible.

Even with big ears, spiraling, and whatnot, it took me over 30 minutes to get down since the convergence line was moving down the valley and it was lifting everwhere. But I had a nice landing in about 20 km winds so it was straight down and a soft landing for the ankle. About 20 minutes after I landed the strong north winds hit just like they had in Donald station, and the last glider came in backwards (and it was a Boomerang 5!). We were all glad to be on the ground!

Bill didn’t make it all the way back to Golden, landing short since the SW winds pinned him again the Kicking horse side of the valley and he couldn’t get back. And there were plenty of people that landed short of goal, since they misjudged their final glide and couldn’t penetrate the north winds. It was a pretty spectacular display of weather…Will is saying it’s just like a certain day in 1994 when the same thing happened at Donald station (strong north winds when it was SW everywhere else). Apparently it happens there quite a lot so maybe there is some topographical reason for it…maybe the fact there are several valleys converging around there.

There are several people that didn’t launch and are going to declare a DNF…the conditions on launch were certainly strong, but not insurmountable, but had we known what the winds were going to be doing at Donald, we probably would have run a different task. That big black cloud eventually made it to Nicholson as we were having our Bratwurst party #2 and it’s now very windy in Nicholson. Good thing we declared a “land by” time so that people wouldn’t be encouraged to keep flying after a certain time. Everyone is telling their personal stories of the day and there is lots of geeking out by pilots trying to figure out their maximum climb rates and who got a faster climb etc etc. And the Willi registration is happening now, so it’s a busy place. All the visiting pilots are commenting on how awesome Golden is; how every day has been different, and all the different ways and places to fly. Everyone is stoked!

Pictures are up at http://mclearn.ca/gallery/

Here are the daily results:

Task 5 results:

1. Gadd, Will (922)
2. Dadam, Matt (858)
3. Messenger, Jamie (806)
4. Larsen, Erik (785)
5. Zahner, Gavin (783)
6. Riggs, Josh (757)
7. Beechinor, Matt (750)
8. McCullough, Michelle (748)
9. Brown, Jack (744)
10. Izadi, Amir (744)
11. McLearn, Nicole (727)

There were 27 people in goal today.

Cumulative results after 5 tasks:

1. Messenger, Jamie (4389)
2. Beechinor, Matt (4250)
3. MacCullough, Keith (3977)
4. Zahner, Gavin (3943)
5. Dadam, Matt (3859)
6. Gadd, Will (3751)
7. Izadi, Amir (3718)
8. Riggs, Josh (3503)
9. Belcourt, Bill (3384)
10. Devietti, Marty (3362)
11. Larsen, Erik (3333)
12. McLearn, Nicole (3273)

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