When I saw the forecast for today I was pretty sure we weren’t going to have a task due to the winds (30-40 kph on the flats later this afternoon), but we tried! The problem was stability, low top of lift, wind, and trying to fit 130 pilots in the air over the Butte in such conditions.
Initially on the Butte it wasn’t that windy but I suspected that was because the morning inversion hadn’t yet broken, and the task was called to Hartline, around 75 km away. But the wind technicians weren’t staying up, or getting high, and we had to wait until it became more obvious that it was soarable (a couple of comp pilots actually launched to demonstrate it was stay-upable, and then top-landed for the final task briefing), at which point the inversion was starting to break.
|You can see today's wind as well as the north wind tomorrow.|
I suspected that once the inversion fully broke it would become very windy on launch and I was keen to be in the air already when that happened, so I launched very early in the sequence and got away from the hill and started slowly climbing in the broken lift out front. It wasn’t too windy…maybe 15 kph in the compression zone, but I could see it becoming worse on launch as gliders were going all over the place and lots of blown launches.
As the inversion broke it became windier in the air as well, I was getting 25 kph now and thinking it was time to head out to land as it was becoming clear that it wasn’t safe to have a task, although free-flying was still OK. At this point Eric got on the radio and said the task was stopped, at which point most of us in the air went out to land at the soccer field LZ, while those still on launch packed up, and a few in-air pilots decided to at least try the task for fun.
The wind was picking up steadily and I was getting 33 kph on the way into the LZ so I was glad to be on the ground as I saw the later landers coming in straight down or even slightly backwards in the gusts. I could see a handful of pilots gale-dangling on the edge of the Rim as they ridge soared and waited for a thermal to come through so they could get on course line. But most pilots ended up on the nice green grass and shade to pack up in!
Tomorrow is looking like north wind and I suggested to the organization and task committee to at least consider Saddle Mountain if it was going to be too north for the Butte. However the logistics of moving 130 pilots to a new site 2 hours away, on the final day of the comp, is problematic and we may end up staying at the Butte and hoping the north isn’t too much to launch in (since the comp doesn’t have permit-access to the north side of the Butte with the cell towers).