Saturday, April 1, 2017

Green Swamp Sports Klassic 2017 - Task Six

Friday was blown out. Task six moved to Saturday - the last task of this competition.
Another magical foggy sunrise - last day of the competition

Saturday forecast called for a blue day. No cummies. No lift indicators in the sky. Plus westerly wind up to 13 miles per hour.

To ease the retrieve before Saturday night award ceremony, the task committee decided to set a triangle - 2 turn points and return back to Quest. 50 kilometers total. Easy retrieve, not so easy to stay up.

We launched at 1:30pm. Our team was first to launch, and I was second in line.

After a very bumpy ride, I ended up in a very weak thermal. It topped out at 3k MSL. Meanwhile, other people started to show up, and that thermal got crowded. Up and down, more people - not much upward progress.
Team One in one thermal.
getting crowded
I thought a glider (away from this gaggle)  was climbing better. I went to check it out, and hit huge sink. Turned around, and couldn't get back to what I had. Went exploring - and didn't find anything. Time to land back at the airport.
Landing
Zhenya to the rescue

Meanwhile, my old gaggle found another climb in a different direction from where I went. Sigh.

Towed again. Tug dropped me off under the gaggle - not a beep from my vario. They all were floating in zero sink above me. 5 minutes and I was on the ground AGAIN! I was getting slightly pissed. Slightly, just very so very, very slightly.

Michelle helping on launch

Towed again. This time got into a weak climb. I topped out at 4k MSL. Progress... but that old gaggle (no one left yet?) was still higher than me.
They all higher than me... How did they get up there?
Our team mentor, Greg, was calling something on the radio. He had a shoulder mic with a lot of wind noise. In this weak lift that was breaking my concentration - I couldn't hear my vario. I turned the radio off and decided that I was done with this ridiculous day - I was flying out, on course, not landing back at the airport ANYMORE. I better land out and relax for the rest of the day... I turned my ass toward that gaggle above me, and left. Take that mother nature!

I immediately felt better. Now I just needed to find me an LZ as far as my Green Sporty would glide. Plenty of fields ahead. Check. Blue day - pay attention to ground thermal triggers. Check.... As I flew toward a neighborhood with a lot of houses (as a potential thermal trigger), my vario told me that my day wasn't done... Yet...

And that pretty much described my flight for the next 2.5 hours. As a thermal I would stumble into gotten weaker around 3200-4000 feet (~150fpm or less) - leave. Glide to the next potential trigger, arrive sometimes as low as 700 feet, recharge, rinse and repeat.

Several times I thought I was done. Terra firma - here I come,I mean, here I fall out of the sky. But each time I was able to climb up using a few bug farts and helium in my leading edges. It was surreal.
Getting low... chicken coops to the rescue.
Only once, early on a glide toward turn point one, I saw a few other gliders. Tom with his team flew into a thermal where I was, but a few hundred feet higher. After that I was completely on my own. All alone in the sky.
Saying hi to Tom
Several times I drifted away from a turnpoint because I found a climb. It took a couple of iterations to figure out that I wasn't making much of a forward progress - glide, climb, drift back. So I set on a glide much farther and lost more altitude, but made the turnpoint and could finally change direction, flying crosswind.
Drifting away from first turn point
On a long glide to first turn point


...

When I was on a final glide, I stumbled into a Florida fat thermal. Soft and easy, it took me all the way up to 6200' MSL. Yet again I recharged too much for a final glide. But the way this flight was progressing - I didn't want to take any chances.

It was exhilarating to realize that I made it! I didn't expect that at all. I arrived with 2500 feet of altitude, shouting as I was floating above Quest, but I was too high for anyone to hear me. Exhausted, I spiraled down and landed.

On the ground I was told I was the first sport class pilot to show up! I won the day, second time in a row. And I wasn't even racing, I was just very pissed, and tried not to land for as long as I could. I guess, that can be a winning combination. Awesome!

...

All that awesomeness in the last 3 tasks didn't move me anywhere close to the comp leaders. I've done poorly in the first 3 tasks, and there was no way fixing that. But I got way more out of this competition than I expected. "NO REGERTS"

....
Recording of the flight:
http://doarama.com/view/1273937

Flight's stats/info:
http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/1592512

Task 6 results:
https://airtribune.com/2017-green-swamp-sport-klassic/results/task2285/day/sport-class

Competition results:
https://airtribune.com/2017-green-swamp-sport-klassic/results/task2285/comp/sport-class
...
I did manage to squeak into top 10.