|Heading for Divis|
I launched right as the window opened, so by the time the start came 1.5 hours later, I was already tired from the pummelling I was receiving at Crazy. Lots of shouting as pilots were trying to fit into the small thermals and (mostly) succeeding. I was *so* happy when the start happened, just so I could finally go someplace and gain some breathing room.
The rush to Divis was really fast, and we had our first reserve toss about 3km from the actual antennas. With the rescue helicopter on its way, it was important for all of us to get out of there so no time wasted getting back to 3 kings and pushing back to Espina and out of the helicopter's way.
It was a bit crosswind to Llano, across large canyons with lots of power lines and inconvenient places to land out, so I took it slow along with some other classic EN-D's, staying high and avoiding the sinkhole areas I remembered from previous years.
After tagging Llano it was decision time. The direct line to the Monarcas involved lots of canyons, small (or no) LZ's, and powerlines. I saw the big guns going for the straight-a-way route but I was too chicken for that, so I opted for the safer route via launch and Penitas. Marina was with me at this point but she opted to split the difference and I lost sight of her as I climbed out over launch (apparently there was a free-flyer in the trees at launch but I never saw them, so they must have been rescued already) and dove over the back to Sacamacate.
I don't really like Sacamacate, it's too close to Penitas which is usually rough and turbulent, but with the SE wind it was the place to be. Frisbeed my way over to the usual convergence zone and then started making my way over to Monarcas. No clouds to mark the convergence, and it was definitely weaker than previous days, but it was there and very useful to make it across to the TP.
At this point I heard of another reserve toss at the Monarca ridge, but the pilot landed safely in a field and was able to self-rescue before the retrieve showed up. I was busy trying to get high enough to penetrate back to Serro Gordo, but the high cirrus that had been coming and going all afternoon was now here with a vengeance.
Joanna and I (very) slowly made our way upwind towards St. Augustine but were forced to hang out on a small hill in the middle of the valley while thing shut down for a while. I had to spend 30 minutes fighting for any scrap of lift in the overcast and essentially went into survival mode. I flew out to land so many times, but at the last minute was able to find enough to return to the hill and eke out another 5 minutes before repeating the whole process again and again. It was torture!
Finally the sun came back out and we were able to climb out enough to cross to the garbage dump thermal and get up on the plateau. But it was now 4:30pm and the task deadline was 5pm. Would we make it in time? The high cirrus was coming back and the thermals were shutting down, and Joanna and I made a last-ditch effort to cross to Serro Gordo and the 400m cylinder. I was so close! I was watching my countdown: 500m, 480m, 460m, 440m., 430m.... and then the trees were coming up at me and I had to decide to risk a tree landing or turn away before 400m.
|My retrieve crew!|
Well I took the safe bet and turned away, knowing that was my last chance to tag Serro Gordo as it was shutting down and most things were in shade. Joanna was higher than me and was able to tag the cylinder and then go on glide for the lake, landing short but getting an extra few km's on me. Meanwhile I was landing in the town of Serro Gordo, when I noticed a truck following me. Retrieve? Nope, it was the policia estatal and they were on patrol when they saw me landing and decided to liven up their usual routine.
So I had a nice audience of police officers who kept the mobs of kids from me so I could pack up, and then offered me a ride to HQ, but not before the obligatory photos and questions (where was I from, how old was I, how much did my gear cost, was it cold up there, did I like Mexico, etc).
So I arrived back at HQ in style with the police lights going and an escort of armed police right to the front door. Much more interesting than landing at the boring goal field!
So in the end, despite me not making goal, I had a fantastic day and am quite satisfied with my flight. I covered a lot of territory I don't usually cover, and the fight to stay aloft in the shade allowed me to practice my patience. I ended up spending over 6 hours in the air today so I'm rather pooped, but at the same time completely stoked about the flight. Unfortunately, because *not* making goal carries such a huge penalty points-wise during this comp, I'm probably not going to get much for my efforts :(