The local club has expanded the launch to the south, so you can now launch 6-7 gliders at a time. But this is at the expense of the area behind launch where you could previously get your gear ready. That space is now limited since it’s now a high berm up to the expanded launch area. But what space is there is concreted now. And there’s lots of space to set up on launch and then move off to the side. There is also a nice new-looking bathroom on launch, but it’s locked! I think they are going to unlock them for the comp only.
The skies were empty when we showed up around 10:45am; Brett says there are usually tour groups and free-flyers in the air by then, but they have all left town in advance of the comp pilots coming in.
Brett, Jim, and I made a mock task for ourselves (Keith was a bit tired and was just planning on flying back to Valle). Launch-Espina-Maguey-Saucos-Iglesia-Valle LZ. Not too strenuous but it would involve lots of crossings and into-wind flying.
After watching several pilots launch I got in the queue and took off around 12:15pm. Initially out front it was a bit ratty, north winds. But not too bad. Crossed over to El Penon, penetrating the north wind, and got established over there, and then upwind to Crazy Thermal. I got low on the way there but I knew Crazy would be working, and it was! Back up to cloudbase, which at this point was about 3000m, and then pointed myself at Maguey and did the big crossing.
Over on Maguey it was north winds again, and after messing around there for a bit I got established again and crossed to Serro Gordo. More downwind at this point and an easy glide, and then up to cloudbase again. Onwards to La Casa along the edge of the mesa, flying with Gavin and Harmony, where I could see the convergence setting up over the valley between La Casa and Saucos.
At this point it was just point and glide, all the way to Saucos (on the way to the Monarca sanctuary), and then all the way back. Coming back from Saucos was a slow as the lake breeze had set up, but I took it slow and stayed high under the clouds all the way back to La Casa.
I got my lowest of the flight at La Casa, when I tried to get established on the mesa again and was too low to get to my chosen cloud, so I had to turn around, back to the flats, to try again. Second time I was able to get high enough to make the glide to the top of the mesa, and then under the cloudstreet along the rim. Cloudbase around 3400m at this point and another just point-and-glide to Iglesia, and then over Lake Valle with oodles of altitude.
I arrived over the LZ at about 2300m (the Lake is about 1800m), plenty for a tour of Torre launch and several passes over the town. The LZ was busy with landing pilots and I landed right next to the lawnchairs and hammocks and out of the way for the next landing pilot behind me.
Jim and Keith were at the LZ; Brett had gotten low over La Casa on the way back from Saucos (where I had to try 2 times to get established) and landed on top of the mesa and got a ride back to town. Total airtime: 2 hours 45 minutes, and 53 km out-and-return/triangle thingy. Tracklog is here.
It was so fun to fly with friends I haven't seen in 2 years. The only thing I'm not really looking forward to are the daily start gaggles when the comp starts on Sunday. They are just enormous, and when the lift is not widespread it just gets stupid. Mid-airs are common, and I'm always afraid to have some pilot get into trouble above me and come crashing down through my canopy. Fortunately the ginormous gaggles usually dissipate once the race actually starts.
Registration was the usual hoopla…with the addition of the FAI hoops to jump through. You need to show your FAI license, then they make you stand on a scale to weigh you, and then you have to show your load-test paperwork if you are flying a comp glider. Outside they were setting up the stage for the opening and closing ceremonies, and the flags of all the participating countries are already up. Should be a good shindig tomorrow night!