The first task and it was a bit of a doozy: an FAI triangle that would take us out to Divis before recrossing the Mesa towards Aguila, before heading over the deep canyons and high-tension powerlines to the Monarca ridge, back across the Mesa to Maguey, and a final sphincter-clenching glide over the Lake to the far side of La Pena, before gliding back up/crosswind to the goal LZ. Optimized distance ~81km.
Since there was no launch priority today I got early in line and was actually the 3rd person to launch, which meant I had to wait 1.5 hours at Espina for the start. Cloudbase was nice and high, about 3400m initially and eventually went to 3600m later in the day, so the Divis and return to Espina was relatively straightforward. But no joy across the flats to the Aguila area, and our gaggle arrived low and had to fester for a long time. Most of the gaggle actually landed out at this point, and it was only myself and another IP6 that survived the sinkhole.
|Hanging out near Espina waiting for more pilots to join me.|
In fact the whole next part of the flight was one giant low save after another, with me getting below hill level at least twice before I climbed out and was able to frisbee myself a few more km's downwind before doing it all over again. The lift over the gorges and powerlines wasn't very organized, and it wasn't until I flew over Mesa-D town that I was able to use the small hills behind the town to finally connect with the convergence and breath a sigh of relief. Unfortunately the other gliders I had caught up with were all too low and landed at Mesa-D, so once again I was the sole surviver.
But I was finally under the convergence and put the pedal to the metal and drove upwind to the Mesa to tag Maguey and get home. It was getting late and Serro Gordo was shutting down, so after I managed to squeak back up to 2900m I decided to go for it, leaving the lower gliders to continue festering where they eventually landed near the church at the base.
The task committee had decided that instead of sending us to the goal field via Torre launch, we had to fly fully across the lake to the far side of Valle, tag the hills to the north, and fly back upwind to the goal field. Fortunately the lake is very low now, and there is ample beach for the multitudes of pilots who tagged the ESS but were now too low to make the goal LZ. I was almost one of them...had I left Serro Gordo 100m lower I wouldn't have made it, but I squeaked in the ESS and made the goal field.
At least one other pilot crossed the ESS after me and made goal, so I know I'm not last :) I was just happy to make goal and not have to be retrieved from elsewhere. It was very sweet to make goal after my series of low saves over the blue hole of death and watching most everyone else sink out.
Brett Yeates almost made goal...he ended up landing at the church in Serro Gordo along with a bunch of other pilots. Tom Chromy had a technical issue with his instrument and ended up landing up by Divis, where he got a ride from a 12-year old driving a truck! Tonnes of pilots landed out just before Aguila, and maybe only 15-20 pilots made goal. The task was a bit ambitious in my opinion, given it was the first day with many new comp pilots, but it was certainly interesting, with a combination of fast speedbar flying, switching to survival mode, riding the convergence, and finally being patient but not too patient with calculating the final glide over the lake.