Friday, May 15, 2009

Dateline Manastash Ridge

In a cunning move North West Star Paraglider Pilot Meredyth Malocsay took the lead in this season's Pacific Northwest XC competition. Taking a page from comp flying she feigned a tactical mistake to hide a brilliant strategic move. Comp pilots will often wait for very long times in thermals for a bold or foolish pilot to lead out. Like in bike racing where the leader is used as a wind break, paraglider pilots use a solo leader to judge the rising or sinking air further down the course. Malocsay's found herself eye to eye in a thermal with her competition, the up and coming pilot known as Preacher when she made her move.
Preacher's lead after the first weekend of competition placed Malocsay in a bind. If she were to fly as a team they might have worked similar lines which would have led to similar scores. "Preacher is flying really well," said Malocsay when asked about the competition. "We usually try to work together early in a flight but I knew there was a chance he would head out early if I held back. It worked out to my advantage, as it turned out."
Malocsay's move occurred over launch as the two were thermalling together working to reach the towers in the house thermal. In a right hand turn, established by Preacher they were at 180's in 500fpm lift when after 2 or 3 circuits Malocsay inexplicably turned left leaving Preacher and the thermal. "I still don't know why she bailed," Preacher complained. "It didn't make any sense we were cranking just fine and then she was gone." The move left the new comer at the top of lift having to choose between waiting for others to join him, risking that a building layer of cirrus might shut down lift or heading east in search of the next thermal alone.
Malocsay's strategic plan paid off when Preacher dirted on the newly opened right spine of the Boylston Ridge. Malocsay reported: "I saw Dave on the ground and knew I wasn't going that way and stayed with the traditional line. He paid the price for searching out a new line without having enough height. But tomorrow is another day." There is always something to learn in paragliding and sometimes that learning is done from the ground.
When asked about Malocasy performance Preacher said: "I don't know I guess she just thinks and flies at another level." Logging over 35miles to Preacher's 10miles Malocsay takes top honors for the day and the yellow jersey for the competition.
The second day of Round 2 begins Saturday at the Rock @ 11:00.

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