Today, as forecast, the wind was blowing at launch. Conditions were marginal, but there were definite lulls that would allow for safe launches, so a task was called.
The task started with a 13.5 mile leg to Cutoff (the turnpoint I couldn't reach yesterday because I was too far downwind of course line) and then a 75 mile downwind leg that was over Plush & proceeded North.
The Wind Techs launched without trouble & had little luck staying in the air until about noon. Additional Wind Techs were put in the air & they began to find lift but their drift downwind to the North was noticeable. The wind began to come up & most pilots were not too quick to launch. Dave & I launched about 15 minutes before the Start time of the task. We launched into a down cycle & had to grovel for 10 minutes before we found a thermal & started a bumpy, drifty, climb to 9000'. Dave left for better lift & found none & had to side-hill-land for a relaunch. Meanwhile, many pilots were dirting in the LZ out in front of launch.
I continued to search the area for lift & after reading "PATIENCE" on my vario I took a deep breath & realized I would be having fun if I quit being frustrated that I hadn't gone over the back yet. I worked a couple small rough thermals & finally found a smooth 400'/min. core that soon bloomed into 650'/min. steady climb to 9500'. Sam Crocker & I headed over the back towards Cutoff. I was wary of getting downwind of the course line this time. I stayed over the road & took climbs back a bit, but soon penetrated back near the road. I was able to travel 6 miles while working very disorganized lift towards the turn point. Eventually I had to make the decision to either push out towards the road or press on & land in the boonies while maximizing my track towards the point - I chose the latter. Dave has had two long hike-outs & I had none - it was time for me to experience the beauty of SE Oregon's wilderness first-hand.
Eventually I made a nice landing in, what might be called, a meadow. In truth, the slope I landed on was covered in sparse sage with softball & football sized volcanic boulders everywhere. As I approached the clearing I awoke a sleeping coyote & he ran off in a hurry. The landing went well & I made contact with Kevin on the retrieval freq. I told them I'd hike out & meet them at Hwy. 140. . . I was actually looking forward to a bit of a hike.
Today was a day of marginal conditions & contrast. The task was the longest ever called for a US Nationals competition, yet there were many pilots on launch who decided not to fly due to the wind & drift in climbs. There were also many good pilots in the LZ with minimum distance points. I wouldn't have launched if I thought it wasn't safe. Conditions when Dave & I launched were fine. The challenge was climbing high enough to cross over the back of the ridge without drift so far from the course line that I ended up in a position like yesterday's frustrating flight.
I know that at least 6 made goal today - probably a couple more.
My flight is HERE
Results will be HERE soon.