Thursday, February 5, 2009

Penultimate day

I wasn’t feeling well today so had a short day.

We were assigned a 117 km task, taking us south over the flats in front of launch, back to 3 Kings, then over the Mesa to Saucos, back over the Mesa and back over the flats to La Pila, and finally goal up on the Monarca ridge. There was some discussion about whether there would be enough time to complete such a task (the longest one yet), but as tomorrow is the last day and thus a shorter task, today was the last day for going big.

The skies were much bluer than yesterday, not much development at all. It had been very windy last night, so I figure that was something moving through and we are now in a new weather pattern.

I wasn’t feeling all that hot on launch, and as soon as I launched it didn’t feel right. The air was the usual squirrely in front of launch and I found it hard to concentrate on getting high. Bumbled my way over to Penon and to the Wall, where it was ripping up the face and zoomed up to 3600m and cloudbase. But it still felt weird and I wasn’t liking the way the air was feeling, although I don’t think it was any rougher than previous days.

I was quite glad for the start since I was hoping the weirdness I was feeling was just the local rough flying conditions around Crazy and the Wall, but the glide to the 1st TP wasn’t smooth either. And many people got low just before the TP, and we all had to stop and top-up on the way, and the gaggles weren’t that organized with discrete climbs. People were milling around all over the place. I still wasn’t feeling that great and was finding it hard to concentrate, so after tagging the 1st TP I opted to land right away. Very-short-and-sweet tracklog is here. Landed in Teneria and felt immediately better; all I wanted to do was lie in the hot sun and laze asleep. But of course the locals popped out of the woodwork and I was soon surrounded so no rest for me, and they followed me all the way to the Church meeting spot where retrieve was waiting.


Getting back to Valle was long as we stopped at the turnoff for the Piano LZ, to meet up with the other retrieve vehicle which was busy picking up pilots who had dirted on the way back to the Wall. Jim was in this group as he said he had “raced himself into the ground”.

Back to Valle and the usual convergence clouds weren’t there, and it was very blue, and strong headwinds from the north for anybody trying to make it over the Monarca ridge and into goal. We saw a group of perhaps 30 pilots slowly making their way, and many more who were very low on San Augustine etc who were doing the death glide, hoping to find something to get them there. In the end I think there were about 40-50 pilots in goal, with many more scattered all along the courseline, and lots of long retrieves. It looked like it turned into a very difficult day, not as easy as originally thought, with the lack of convergence clouds to get people back and forth from the Mesa. Brett had a pretty good flight, tagging La Pila and landing on the way back over the Mesa.

I was quite happy to be on the ground even though it was a short flight and I flew for less than 2 hours; I think the pace and long days is finally taking its toll. There are now pilots who are choosing not to fly just because they are so tired or feel it’s not worth the possible carnage (we had a pilot fly into trees again today, due to extreme sink on the backside of launch, and yesterday Joanna tossed her reserve coming down behind launch). I’m glad tomorrow is the last day, and a probable shorter task, since the organization will want everyone back early for scoring and prize-giving.

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