1st - Santiago
2nd Matt Dadam
3rd Eric Reed
Today' forecast was for climbs to 10,500' and light winds from the W and NW. When the throng of eager pilots got to launch around 10am Cu's were just starting to pop to the West and within an hour they were also forming on the flats to the East. We were going to go big and a triangle was in the plan.
The task committee huddles for a long time and then announced (what was to be) the perfect task for the day. A 120k triangle East to Farmer, then a North East leg to Leahy (the goal on Task 1) then return to the LZ in Chelan.
I launched as soon as the window opened - about 65 min. before the start. This wasn't my best decision of the day since the 120k task would take a while.
By the time I landed in goal, it had been 6:09 since launch. The lift was abundant and high in most places but there were still some cruxes along the route that dirted many good pilots who didn't realize they had to change to a slower pace for a bit. The air at the top of lift was very cold. Even with my balaclava, winter gloves, & hot hands, I was very chilly at altitude. We were topping out around 9500' over launch and I had plenty of time to practice runs at the 1.5k entry cylinder for the start. The gaggles formed above launch and, with 5 minutes to the start, I found myself in pretty good shape for the start. I entered the 1500 meter cylinder about 3 seconds after the start time in the perfect quadrant to tag the 400 meter cylinder & head out on course.
We all got low for a bit but were able to get up well as we moved East. I was doing well into the first turnpoint, but felt slow & low until I hit the best thermal of the day over Farmer. It solidified into a solid 1100'/min. thermal for 5 minutes and took me to 10,400'. I then caught many of the guys ahead of me as I headed down the second leg. Going into the second turnpoint, it looked like many of the leaders were very low & grovelling at the turnpoint so I tanked up as much altitude as I could before going in to tag Leahy. This paid off & I caught many of the lead gaggle (which was beginning to break up). Soon I found myself getting low & alone & had to wait for scattered lift to solidify into solid 5-600'/min. I was looking at 15 miles to goal & it seemed like forever until I was on my final glide.
The final glide was also very tricky since the rim of the Columbia River Gorge is 2000' above the landing field at the bottom of the gorge. In order to clear the rim of the gorge you must not rely on the final glide on the instruments. . .The problem was, nobody knew when a safe final glide would be sufficient - 5:1? 6:1? I decided 5.5:1 would be enough & was fortunate that it was, but it looked bad for a bit as the rim was coming up to meet me as I was gliding into the goal. Many pilots had to land on the top of the rim or find lift at the last minute to make it into goal.
I made it to goal today & set a personal best of 74 miles (120k)& 6:09 flight time (of which 5 hours were for the task). This put me at 4th in the Serial class & 27th in the open for the day. I placed 7th in the serial class overall.
The mood at the soccer field at goal was very *up* since we knew that the task was very well suited to the day and we had worked hard to make it into goal.
I felt that something was different than any other time in goal. I realized, as I sat sipping one of Steve Forslund's signature margaritas, that I was watching others - many others - arrive in goal after me. It felt good!
Obviously I wish we'd been able to fly all 6 days but the three we had were great. Including my flight on the practice day, I flew 202 miles in 4 flights.
I made goal 2 out of three days and had great starts every day. I used my condom catheter on two flights and am happy with the ability to hydrate at will and yet fly comfortably for six hours.
A thanks to Doug & Denise for putting on such a friendly comp and to Kevin for running the show. The task committee and volunteers did a great job.
A good week.
My flight is HERE
Results are HERE