Monday, June 14, 2010

Woodrat Day 2

Amazing, Fun, Saves and Work – Just no points to show for comparitive success.

The day was so challenging that 90 pilots or so only got minimum distance points. There were 11 in goal and only 4 or 5 of us spread over the course line. This kind of scoring day produces a very low total points and the spread between those who dust and those who make task is almost funny.

If you made goal today you got around 180 to 200 points and if you only made the LZ you got 89. For those of us who worked all day and almost cracked the nut we got around 130 to 140.

So having a great day coming in 11th over all and 3rd in class only gave me 45 more points that just launching --- well it sounds like I am whining – It was just such a great day of flying that not getting points makes it seem strange.

To the flying. – Continuing with the plan, all things equal, get off early. I was in line 3rd and after a launch hold I ended up first in the slot and launched 20 seconds after launch opened.

This worked well. I was able to sky to cloud base which was about 5,200 at that point. Over the next 20 minutes or so the best pilots launched and were up with me. We boated about made moves to Rabies and I went with them once but retreated to the hill to tank again. I just didn’t think we had enough altitude to get up at Rabies with the strong West flow.

When the second gaggle got established on Woodrat I let them go and followed. However, I made a tactical error on the top off of the thermal. We had been working well and it seemed that the core was leaning to the South so as I came round I extended South. I didn’t get much lift but didn’t go down so I just tracked South figuring I was wining against the rest of the gaggle. I knew they weren’t getting higher but they were behind me so I couldn’t tell for sure.

When I finally turned I found I had left them in the dust – that is, they hit their top and pushed out front. – Now I was higher by a bit but way behind as they pushed across. By the time I got back to the center of launch they had found a bit of lift out and to the NW of launch and were working it and I was further behind than I wanted.

I had to top off again and then finally left for Rabies with 3 or 4 others. – We were behind and a few from the early gaggle made the hill just before us. The problem was that a lot of folk just were getting crushed. – I found a lifty line that got me to the hill well above ridge top but it wasn’t great. – The wind was strong from the West so the thermals from the West face were ripping off and most of the wings in the area were really struggling and most fell off lea side. – I kept forward figuring that lea was a total no win proposition but the windward wasn’t much better.

There are few landing options on the West side of Rabies and my worst landing ever was up there last year so I was not happy as I surfed the ridge just maintaining. I watched as one yellow wing frizbied windward side up the ridge to the North but I just couldn’t get there so I pushed out and to the South.

This worked for a bit – Nice strong lift when it pushed but then thrashing. Just wasn’t working. – Now the call was to push all the way out to the South and give in to the winery or give it one last hope for glory scratch and swing deeper into tiger country. – There were a few LZ up high so – well you guessed it I went deep and with a great deal of effort I finally scratched out. When I finally crested in lift I found a naked sky. There were no wings on Rabies any more except my Cobra.

On top of the ridge I just skied – I found some of the best lift of the day and after topping at 5,800 or so I pushed back for an easy tag of RAB-PK 2K cylinder. As I did this I caught site of Matt Cone coming back from tagging the same.

Now back to Woodrat to get the big rock. – On the way I relocated the Rabies boomer and punched through the inversion nailing 6,177 to get what I figure was likely high for the day. – remembering that my figuring is seldom right.

The naked line back to the peak was nice and lifty and I was at least 400 over when I got to launch. – The thermals were leaned over to the extreme at this point and the many high wind thermic days over the last month paid dividends. As I surveyed the situation it was clear that most pilots were just not going up and most were loosing ground.

The day was getting long in the tooth – More wind, less lift, so it became a do it now or die very soon. – I may have touched 5,400 on my last spin off the Rat on the way to Burnt. I knew it was a gamble – Matt Cone was already over there and was low, if he didn’t make it I figured my chances were slim. I made my best line and got to the ridge just over which was key to getting a bit more. If you come in below ridge you are just toast on that Burnt piece of rock.

There were two other wings working above the ridge at that point. They were together and a bit further West. – They had been there for a while and on one frizbe back the red wing – think it may have been Chris A. pealed off and went town wind. The other wing was the same color as Mer so I figured it was her but it wasn’t. As “she” was coming back to push windward I figured – toss up – lets work together.

As it turned out it wasn’t Mer but rather a Check pilot who I didn’t know. – We tried but didn’t work well together and after a few tries I just didn’t see it working. I caught a little bubble as he was pushing forward and loosing ground and I split. (this turned out to be a major mistake as he eventually made goal and I didn’t). But we were not working well and I didn’t know who he was.

The rest of the flight was just frizbee down wind toward the Cemetery waypoint. I was looking at the hills and trying to guess what would give lift. – They all had a bit but none had enough to build on. I ended up getting low with a down valley flow coming from – I don’t know where but it was exciting.

I tried to get video because it was just a cool dynamic end to the flight but the camera was not on and you will have to take my word for it that I threw down some serious scratching effort before landing sweet as a bug in a huge LZ.

The only problem with the LZ was the gently grazing cattle some 500 yards up wind. They caught sight of me as I was packing up and the game was on. The first contingent was 4 or 5 mommas and a similar number of 2 month olds.

The biggest of the mommas came close but I was able to bluff them off with a few fast movements with my wing folding arm. Eventually something I did spooked them enough to get them running away from me. Back to folding.

Just about the time I was loading the last of my gear in my pack – having already called my GPS coordinates into retrieve, a much larger contingent of cattle was heading my way. This time they brought the big boy. One BIG BULL who was not looking for a fight but clearly willing to back up momma if a fight were to ensue.

I learned that I have a strong growl that seems to stop approaching cattle for a moment but they were winning, much like the day over most of us gliders. It was the most sketch part of the day as I sideways retreated toward the big 5 line electric fence. – I made it to a post set that might provide an escape route but no guarantees.

I learned that while all cattle are bovine not all are benign!!


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