Monday, July 19, 2010

PWC Day One

PWC Day One

For my blog readers who don’t have all the skinny, the PWC is the Paragliding World Cup. There are two major international events the PWC and the Worlds. In the Worlds each country is allowed a team of 4 PG pilots. The best of each country comes to the Worlds which makes for both very good and very bad pilots in the air at the same time.

In the PWC you have to be in the top rankings,world wide regardless of your country so PWC events have much higher quality pilots on average. The Worlds is a one up event and the PWC is a tour of a number of events culminating in a final. The total number of pilots per event is cut off around 115. If enough international pilots do not come then local pilots will get in – again depending on rank or in my case because of exemptions from organizers, aka Aerial Paragliding. (Thanks guys)

The first day seemed windy in Chelan but once on top it was quite nice. We had an extensive pilots meeting with the “start time” held untill the very end to keep pilots at the briefing.

The task was very similar to the first task of the Nats. – A down wind run to Almira about 100k East past Coulee City. The start cylinder was 15k at farmer which is about 18 miles down wind so it was gong to be important to get an early start so I suited up even before the meeting was over.

Wind tecs including Doc and Doug H. were already skying so getting up wasn’t going to be an issue.

As expected the launch was opened 10 minutes after the meeting ended. It must have been quite a scramble at and prior to the gate because I went out on launch 3 minutes before launch and by the time the window was open for 4 minutes we had already launched 15 pilots.

I took lower launch green monster which was fine but there wasn’t a flow when the bell rang. I had to wait and Doug called down with the – “you going to go" call. - I needed a little puff. – then it came on nice. – I pulled up and caught a twister and couldn’t stay under my wing as it ran West. – I had to put it down – First botched launch this season if you don’t count one tandem.

While resetting, wing after wing launched / jumped over me. – Finally clear, launch was fine as was the climb out.

Top of lift at that point was around 7,000 feet which is just at the edge for an early day crossing. Very few of these pilots were on low end wings like mine so I expected to be by myself on the rim and knew I needed every foot of advantage, but at the same time wanted to stay with the crowd.

With the lead gaggle I headed out from about 6,800 and around 1/3 the way across it was clear I wasn’t going to make the rim with certainty. The lead gaggle was going to be the most difficult to stay with so I retreated back to launch and teamed up with, by that time, the third gaggle.

This crew was solid but anxious. Again we headed out at about 7,000 which is marginal for me and a little bubble got me circling 1/3rd the way across, though it only gave me a bit. By the time we were cross the river none of the leaders of the gaggle had found anything and I knew I would dust if I had to glide as far as they had already.

There is a field I call the cauliflower field because of its shape. A regular thermal pops out of the canyon just South of it and I saw no problem making that field so I left the pack and went for it. Unfortunately the lift I found was too small and too light to sustain and I ended up rimming the first day.

Retrieve included an hour hike and a 45 minute wait. Not a bad day all in all, but I would like to nail one when it counts.

Next Three Days look to be amazing for lift. – Get back up here soon Doc and throw one down.

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