Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Superfinal Day 1

My tracklog is here; photos are here.
Official results are here.

A pretty awesome first day!  The task was a "medium"-sized task; not too big so as not to tire everyone out the first day, but longer than yesterday's.  This time we had to fly out over the flats to Santa Maria (waaay off the end of Espina), then over the plateau and behind Valle to Elefante, push back into the wind to Escale, and then the lake.

Initially there was a pretty strong inversion that we kept bumping up against...around 3000m, and it was rough until you could punch through it.  But once the start happened it was pretty straight flying to Santa Maria, there was tonnes of lift on the flats.  But progress was sloooww as there was a lot of south wind (more than the task committee expected as I found out later).

On glide for Santa Maria.  Slow progress but plenty lifty.
Heading for Elefante it was much faster flying, but it was a bit funky at Maguey and at one point the entire thermal was filled with female pilots.  Our girly gaggle finally got high enough to head over to Serro Gordo and then it time to figure out how to get to Elefante.  I had been thinking about this all during the flight and was hoping for some sort of convergence to help me along; yes! again it was there and able to get up to cloudbase and start the very fast (I saw a spike of 80 kph, 1/2 bar) downwind dash to Elefante.

The problem with the convergence is that it doesn't extend to Elefante, but more towards Saucos, so at some point we all had to leave the convergence and head into the blue.  I could see pilots getting very low after tagging the TP so I changed my strategy to tag Elefante, detour to the convergence near Saucos, and then fly underneath it upwind to Escale.  Joanna was with me but opted to try the more direct route back and I lost sight of her; the rest of the girly gaggle had gotten a bit of a jump on me and were a couple of km's ahead of me.

Finally I was able to push into the convergence and felt relatively safe from an outlanding behind Valle.  The wind was very strong from the south so it was a slow uphill slog, but I was able to skip from cloud to cloud in the convergence and make it Jovan's before they petered out.

I usually don't see the lake from this direction.
Blue hole here and the convergence is off the photo on the left.
Escale was only about 5km in front of me and I was at cloudbase about 3600m, which is usually enough to make it especially with a 1km radius.  Ronny Helgesen was just ahead of me so I went for the TP.  I could see a gaggle to the north of Escale, quite low, so I figured I was on the right courseline by taking the south route, but I was wrong!  The south wind was howling past Escale and I was plummeting.  You'd think 3600m would be enough to tag Escale and thermal up on the sunny windward side, but the ground rises up quite rapidly so you end up losing height faster than usual.

I was trying to penetrate to the windward, south side of Escale but I ended up tagging  the last TP about 30 seconds before being forced to land up on the plateau.  Ronny had tried the same tactic as me and he got shot down a few minutes before me so we ended up landing in the same field.

Retrieve was awesome and a truck arrived just as we walked to the road so we were back in time to join the goal-makers in the download lineup.  About 95 people in goal with several pilots just landing short.  One tree landing as a pilot didn't quite make the glide over the trees to goal, and Goran reports that he can now vouch for the efficiency of the helicopter rescue team :)  Several pilots landed in the water (although not deeply) due to congestion in the landing approach as well as insufficient empty real estate to finally put down in.

So, other than the 1 tree landing the day was quite successful from a safety standpoint.  Lots of pilots in goal (always a good thing), and personally I'm quite happy with my result.  The pilots here are so good, and so fast, that it takes everything I've got just to barely keep up with them.  I thought I was gonna land back at Elefante but managed to get myself out of that blue hole and back to the safety of the convergence, so at that point everything else was gravy.  And of course, landing with Ronny "Mr. Task Committee", meant I must be doing something right if I can outland with an excellent pilot like him who flies here more than I do.

In retrospect as I approached Escale and saw how windy it was, I could have dove into the north leeside and tried to get up there.  I saw pilots on the north side, low, and perhaps they ended up climbing out of there when I couldn't see them anymore, and ended up making the easy glide to the lake.  But hey, it's a learning experience and if we get more S vs. SW wind at Escale, I may avoid the direct line to the windward side the next time, unless I can climb higher beforehand!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Nicole,

    Good to have your blog, to read what's going on out there. I'll be following the comp every day. I should've been there, but no glider, money and all that stuff...

    I have fond memories of being in Valle this time of the year - wow is it really 3 years ago already!!

    Enjoy and keep safe. I'm rooting for you! :-)

    Kirsty x

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