Sunday, September 14, 2008

Owen's Valley

The first day of the comp and the organizers decided on Flynn’s for the launch site, due to the easier drive up. But we still had a vehicle get a flat tire on the shale, which slowed things down for the pilots behind that vehicle (and the road is too narrow to get around). And of course on launch it was stinking hot, with very little shade (Forestry rules forbid any structures to be staked into the ground, which means no big shade tents; also we’re not allowed to pull any weeds from the area, which means laying out a glider to clear the lines often results in the lines getting more fouled).

Eventually things got organized and a task was called: 110 km out and return, first to the north to Hamill, then south to Big Ears (the radio dishes), and finally to the Fish swimming hole. Winds were significantly south in the valley, and SE up high (as XC Skies predicted), so the second part of the task would be the hard one.

Launched fairly early after the window opened since the airspace in front is not huge, and I wanted to get up and away before it got too crowded. It didn’t really work as the lift was quite disorganized and I spent a long time groveling in front of launch before finally finding a boomer and getting away.

I was never really able to get super-high, only about 4800m, and all the lift was surrounded by huge sink, 4-5m/s down all over the place, and all the altitude you had just gained you ended up losing on the glide afterwards.

Some pilots chose to angle out to Hamill (which was out in the middle of the valley) while I decided to stick to the mountains until the last minute, and then cross-wind my way over there. Once tagging Hamill it was the upwind slog, 50 km to the Big Ear’s turnpoint. The wind was quite strong and I ended up ridge soaring the spines that come out from the main range, getting high enough to jump to the next spine, and repeating. However you end up running out of spines on the way south, where it gets flat for the next 10 km or so, so that strategy would only work for so long. I ended up gliding out to the valley and landing in between the Gunter and Flynn’s LZ’s, on the main road, and was picked up immediately by one of the retrieve drivers. 70 km OR out of a possible 110 km, 3hours, 40 minutes flight time.

Alex was free-flying as a wind tech, and flew upwind about 8km before returning to launch and landing at the LZ after the race started. There were a couple of people that decided not to fly after it got too rowdy on launch.

About 40 people made goal (Eric Reed was 1st), and several were just short after getting bad final glides. On launch it got quite windy and snarly later on, and pilots were getting plucked up and tossed around as the end of the launch window approached. Launching early seems to be the ticket here, both for wind-on-launch issues, and also for airspace-in-front-of-launch issues.

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