Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BAPA Comp at Dunlap May '10

Dave S. and I headed to Dunlap on Wed. afternoon with the intent to fly 3 days and then participate in the SFBAPA league events over the weekend.  When we arrived at launch the conditions looked perfect for a nice 'shake-out" flight around the valley.  We camped at Dan's LZ and enjoyed a nice dinner up the road at the pub.
Thursday Jug Arrived and we had another fun flight around the valley under great cumulus clouds.  The top-of-climb was low but it was still possible to move around the valley.

Friday was more of the same and I made the decision that I would be flying my Avax XC2 in the weekend comp.  I've decided to fly Serial class in the coming season and have ordered a new Gradient Avax XC3.  The Boomerang 5 is a great wing and I've enjoyed flying it for about 30 hours.  It never did anything squirrelly to me and has great glide performance.  I just didn't connect with the wing.  I didn't trust it and felt that I could actually score better on my XC2 or new XC3.  Maybe I'm not ready for a comp wing yet - I'm OK with that.  I'm firmly of the opinion that we all fly better on wings we are confident in and flying well.  I do know that I can't compete, in the open class, with the latest 2-line wings on a two-year-old Boom 5 so I might as well fly the wings I enjoy flying and that are at the top-end of their class.  

Saturday the troops all assembled at Dan's at 9:30 and we headed up the hill at 10:30.  The conditions were forecast to be good with lift to 6-7000' and a NW wind in the valley.  A task was called from launch to hill 49917 and back, then over Big Cat - and Bald, then a leg to Orosi in the flats for a total of 25 miles.

I had a good high start and barred it all the way to Hill 49917 the lift there was sporadic, but I soon found a thermal pulsing off the hill.  I climbed high enough to get back to launch and caught some lift with the lead gaggle.  We all headed down to Big Cat and then hit the 4km cylinder around Bald Mtn.

A few wings turned directly to Ruth Hill and were struggling low in the shade, so I was looking for alternatives.  To my right (the wrong way to Orosi) was in sunlight and I thought about heading there to poach a bubble off the low hills.  At that same moment, I noticed Josh coming across low to the same area.  He began to circle low in weak lift and I came in on top of him.  The lift was weak but soon bloomed and we climbed together to over 6000' which made it possible to pick our way past the shade at Ruth Hill  and start a relatively straight forward flight to Orosi.  The clouds were working well and lift was often 500-600'/min.  Josh pulled ahead when it was obvious that the flight was going to be easy and beat me to goal by 3 minutes.  Fredric and Steve made it to goal about 30 minutes later and Hoop made a great effort, landing 1km from goal.
Lesson reaffirmed: Don't follow others into conditions that are obviously NOT working.  Look for viable options and try to capitalize on the opportunities they present.
Sunday's task was started in conditions that included low cloudbase and some forecasts of convective activity.  We built a 19 mile task that would put more pilots in goal and keep them in the Dunlap Valley.   After looking over the conditions I decided to launch early to sample the lift and make sure that the convection was reasonable.  Climbs were plentiful and the lift didn't increase in intensity as the cloudbase was approached.   As the start time approached conditions felt better and as we made a glide into Hill 49917 the trend was obviously better.  At that point I just concentrated on the race since I was in the hunt with Josh, Eric, and Fredric.   By the third turnpoint I was in 4th place and the flying was fast.  Josh had stopped to take a climb after Big Cat, on the way to Airstrip, while Eric and Fredric continued into Granny's Knob low.  It looked like they had gotten stuck on the knob, so I took the next 400'/min climb and topped out at around 5500'.  This gave me sufficient height to overfly the guys while they wrestled with sporadic lift, low over the knob.  I was fortunate to pick a great line that actually provided lift as I tagged and returned from the Airstrip.   All I needed for the last 7 miles of the task was one more climb, which I took just short of Big Cat.  I knew Josh was on final glide and Eric was hustling to catch me, but I took the climb at least 1000' too high and had way too much altitude for the final glide.  A rookie mistake, but I still placed second for the day - 4 minutes behind Josh.

I feel very good about the weekend for two reasons.  Firstly; My indecision regarding how I was going to compete this season (and in future seasons)  was resolved, as I sold my Boom 5 on Friday and ordered a new Gradient Avax XC3 on Thursday.  I'm flying serial class for the foreseeable future.

Second; I left the Boom in the bag and flew my three-yr-old Avax XC2 well this weekend and placed 2nd to Josh in both tasks.  I really feel like some of the effort I've put into studying the game is paying off.  

The league has really flourished due to Jug's efforts.  Introducing the Mentoring program and reevaluating the goals of the league to promote the participation and education of newer pilots has revitalized the league.  It's going to be a great season.

Results are HERE.  
and more photos can be viewed HERE


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