Saturday, August 2, 2008

Chelan


The final day of the comp and the weather was looking epic: sunny, light winds, and cloudbase predicted around 10,000’. So the task committee came up with an ambitious route: a 121 km triangle from the Butte, to Farmer in the SE, North to Leahy, and back west to goal in the Chelan Falls Park LZ.

A nice cloud was already forming above the Butte and the wind dummies were all under it so I launched right away. However the start wasn’t for another hour or so, so we all had to wait for the 12:40pm entry start at the LZ, hanging out at cloudbase and getting cold. Of course the cloud fizzled before the start so we were all lower than possible when the start came. Not really an issue as we crossed over to the rim no problem and then started hunting for thermals past the powerlines.

Stayed in a small gaggle of 4-5 gliders for most of the flight, changing pilots as some dropped out, and others joined in. Once I got established under the clouds I vowed to stay there and avoid all the hassles of getting low. Cloudbase started at 2700m over the Butte, and by the end of the day had risen to 3400m (11,000’, higher than predicted).

I did get low a couple of times: just before tagging Leahy there was a blue hole over it, and I didn’t want to attempt the tagging without getting super-high first since the return to the safety of the clouds was going to be pushing upwind. Finally went for it, tagged it, and back to the clouds, where the convergence was setting up (the west wind off Lake Chelan meeting the south winds up the Columbia River). Here I got my highest climb to 3461m (11,400’) and flew under the convergence all the way to the edge of the Rim.

My glide calculator was saying I had goal on a 5:1 glide, but the instrument doesn’t take into account the fact that there is an obstacle in the way (the rim). Many pilots, seeing they had goal on glide, went for it, and ended up landing on the rim since they couldn’t get over the last piece of vertical elevation. I managed to squeak around the last corner at about 30’ off the ground at McNeil Canyon, and then was slaloming between trees on the other side, until I got around the corner fully and then had free air all around me to reach the LZ and goal after 6:30 hours of flying.

According to xContest it is a 104 km FAI triangle, and a possible world record(s) for the women’s class (since the current triangle distance record is 93 km, and there is no speed record set yet for the 100 km triangle). Will have to check into the rules about claiming it since it was during an FAI-sanctioned comp. (I think during a comp, the meet director can act as an FAI observer and sign off the paperwork.)

About 45 pilots made goal despite it being such a huge-distance task. There were also a couple of pilots who made goal, but hadn’t gotten a previous TP, so didn’t get credit for their flight. Lots of happy pilots in the LZ, personal bests, and stories to tell of low saves.

Martin and Mia were out towing that day, I’m sure Martin will post here about Mia’s epic flight. Another HG pilot flew to Reardon/Spokane area (160 km), and a PG wind dummy decided to fly open distance to Davenport after the comp’s start opened (135 km).

With this flight I managed to claw my way back to 3rd spot in the women’s category, enough for the podium. Awards were ipods! I should mention a big thank-you to Cherie Silvera, who had already won an ipod (for being 3rd in the serial class) and gave me her 2nd place ipod in the women’s class, since there was no award for 3rd place. Cherie, you’re awesome!

Final results can be found at http://www.chelanxcopen.com/
Pics are at http://mclearn.ca/gallery/
My tracklog is at http://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/daily-score-pg/?filter%5Bdate%5D=2008-08-02

Congrats to Keith for being the top Canadian pilot there, coming in 10th overall! I think we all had a great time flying here, and some of us are staying around to free fly, since the epic weather is predicted to continue for a couple days yet.

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