Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sun Valley Task 4

Still cold here, so another late start with relatively stable conditions. The last two tasks have involved flying across the main valley and then over a small pass, and yesterday was the same program except we couldn't get very high on launch, so made the first glide a bit low. I worked hard at launch to get high, but it just wasn't there. I started a bit behind the main gaggle, but basically just flew straight across the valley and only worked the strong lift, and soon found myself at the top of the lead gaggle as we got ready for the pass. One glider got out in front and it seemed to be working for him, so I went into chase mode. The climbs were working really well for me, and soon I was a thermal and glide ahead of the lead gaggle and catching what turned out to be Josh Waldrop. The first turpoint was at about 40K, Wildcat Mountain, and we'd had a battle going south from there on task 3 so I was a bit nervous, especially after watching Waldrop sink out under me. But the climbs were working really well to this point... I waited for one full thermal cycle for the gaggle to catch up to me, only to see Eric Reed and Keith Mac come in under me and sink out. I really wanted someone to fly with for the section south of Wildcat, but with Josh, Eric and Keith gone I started slowly working south figuring the lead gaggle would catch me shortly, but they got stuck on Wildcat... The air felt much more stable, and I just wasn't connecting with good climbs. I bobbled along then got flushed down the side of the ridge into Copper Basin without hitting anything going up--4,000 feet of sink, crazy. A few other people got flushed with slightly more altitude than me and climbed out over my head, then I watched the entire lead gaggle fly slowly over my head, cautiously circling and moving slowly. It's moments like these that can drive me to madness in paragliding comps...

I should have waited for the gaggle, I knew the next 40K would be tough, but it's hard to go from race mode to caution mode. I did slow down, but in that kind of stable air a gaggle is the only way through. File it under lessons learned. Josh Cohn and one other pilot made it to goal, good work!

I'm now out of the hunt for any sort of top-five placing--I really need to compete more regulary to do well, I haven't been focused on paragliding competitions this year and it shows. We might have one more task today, that would be fun!

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