The weather forecast for the Dunlap area called for light winds and good thermals to 6500' so I was looking forward to the weekend. Patrick from SLO joined me for the ride up & put up with my snoring in the pop-up.
The turnout was good, with all the regulars and a few first-timers. Jonas from SoCal (and the PG forum) was there and Greg B. made the weekend too. We also had Kaya and Ruth, who were very helpful in the role of retrieve drivers. Thanks ladies!
The first day's task was a variation on the usual valley tour and then a 16k leg from Bald Mtn. to Gage Station in the flats. After tagging Gage a 22k leg took us over Kaktus on the way to the pizza place in Squaw Valley. 68.6 Km. total.
I had a good start, but was a bit low at the first turnpoint (Sontag) - this didn't slow me much though, as I was fortunate to find a nice climb. I flew just behind the leaders for the first three turnpoints and then got slowed for a bit in front of the Dunlap Launch on my way to Bald Mtn. I took my time & got up high for the transition to Bald Mtn. I was able to cut the corner & went ahead of a few of the guys ahead of me until I got to Bald. There I overflew, without knowing it, Josh & Eric who had dirted while leading out. If I'd known they weren't ahead of me I might have taken a bit more time. . .
Anyway, Kansas was down low ahead of me on his brand new baby-blue Boom 5 and he made a great low save to continue on course. I flew by him but took a dumb line & got hammered by sink that took me to the ground about 5 Km. from the Gage Stn. turnpoint. Jug joined me about 10 minutes later and Tom M. was close. Kansas and Patrick (nice job!) managed to hit the Gage turnpoint before landing. Greg B. and Eric B. managed to get close to the Kaktus turnpoint to win the day with no one in goal.
A few of us voiced our opinions that, although it is fun to fly tasks that are long, it would be preferable to have tasks that get 20-30% of us in goal. It is more enjoyable and educational to have 'doable' tasks. I like long tasks, but this league is not just to challenge those of us on 2/3 and comp wings; it's also to promote and teach the techniques, tactics, and logistics of XC competition flying. I'm an example of a pilot who has benefited by participating and learning from the likes of Josh, Eric & Dean. Even when I was flying my Sport 2 and landing short of goal, I was learning. It is frustrating to never get to goal though & I'm glad today's task was a reasonable length that also was technical enough to make decision making as important as the longer tasks.
The task set was 42 Km. in length and had us fly from Launch to Hill 49917 to Turkey to Sontag, across to Airstrip then to Delilah and Sampson on the main ridge, then over to Bald Mtn. & then to the Ranger Stn.
I launched about 45 minutes before the 12:30 start time & got high until the start. I hit the cylinder right on time & got to the first 3 turnpoints in the lead gaggle. The transition from Sontag to Airstrip was a 6 Km. glide & I really didn't want to arrive low over Granny. When Greg B. Josh, Eric R. and Kansas all headed across, I started to follow but REALLY didn't like the look of my chances so I turned to the ridge & climbed out in front of launch. The decision was conservative and slower, but it was validated when I arrived over the airstrip & saw a couple of the leaders folding up their gliders in a field short of the fix.
I soon was climbing up again to cross the valley to tag Sampson & Delilah (behind launch). I could see Josh & Eric but there was no way I was going to catch them so I took it a bit slower to assure goal. Eric was on his way to Bald (going West) as I approached 49917 (heading East to Delilah) and showed me the thermal of the Day. 800'/min. to 7400' put me in good stead for the loop to hit Sampson & Delilah without needing to stop for lift & then refueled me for the last leg to Bald & the Ranger Stn. I left the lift with 6.5:1 and there was enough lift to bring the L/D required to 5:1 so I was on as much speed-bar as I could stand for the final glide.
I placed 3rd for the day & Eric B. (a very good pilot) made me feel good when he said he was working hard to catch me on his Ice Peak but couldn't catch me. Today I feel like I flew smart and fast. This has been my goal for the season - to learn to fly with the comp wings and fly fast but know when to let them go.
It was a lot of fun flying with the group and Patrick flew great.
My Sat. Flight is HERE and my Sun. flight is HERE
Scores will be HERE on Tuesday night - So far, I think I'm leading the Serial Class!
A great weekend.