Monday, June 23, 2008

Dunlap BAPA Comp - June 21-22

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The lapse rate was good and the winds aloft fairly light, so it looked like it was going to be a good weekend. We had a lot of pilots and it was nice to have some friends & family to help with retrieves. The tasks both days were ambitious but the flying was very good. I met Dave S. at the school & he stayed in the camper with me. I flew 8.5 hours in two flights and Dave flew over 9!

Saturday the task was a 77 kilometer task 3 valley crossings and then a 53k leg to Exeter out in the San Juaquin Valley. I flew much of the last half of the task with 'Kansas' and we traded leads as we picked our way down the foothills. Eventually I caught a thermal that provided sufficient glide to get to Colvin Mtn. out North of Woodlake. This hill has some significance for me since it was the first hill I launched off of and thermalled in a paraglider, 5 years ago. A buddy of mine lives at the base of this hill. I spent 15 minutes or so trying to get a climb but nothing substantial cycled up the hill so I ended my 4:30 flight.

I figured Dan & Denise would have beer in the fridge & be willing to give me a lift to where the retrieval car could pick me up. Nobody was home. Bugger! So now with thoughts of a cold beer dashed, I started my hike out to the main road, three miles away. Did I mention that it was around 100F with no shade? I drank over a gallon of water and still got severely dehydrated. Fortunately a good samaritan gave me a ride to Ivanhoe where I met up with Dave & Kansas for the ride back to Dunlap.
Eric B. and Josh C. made goal, with Eric R. Kansas, Me, & Dave, landing within 5-10km. of goal.
My Sat. flight is HERE
Sunday the task called was identical to Saturday's except that after Bald Pk. we flew to Gage Station and then back to launch & out to the Pizza Place in Squaw Valley. I spent much of the task flying with Andrei A. & Eric R. They were both on Comp wings so I needed to use quite a bit of bar during the transitions to stay with them. Conditions were very scratchy so we spent a lot of time mapping the weak lift. I was able to get a low save off a low ridge while the other guys waited for the next cycle and headed towards the Dunlap valley. I got extremely low over the airstrip and spent 10 minutes in zeros waiting for the release of a decent thermal. Finally I got a kick and then a red-tailed hawk showed me the core of a 500'/min. thermal back to 5000'. This climb got me back to last chance but that proved to be my undoing. I struggled for a while in ragged lift. After 4+ hours, in sometimes scorching heat, I didn't feel like fighting with trashy air low over the trees. I fought the fight another 15 minutes without making any headway towards the Dunlap launch waypoint so I landed & hiked back to the school. My Sun. flight is HERE

Dave, meanwhile, was making a gallant effort. He had flown the entire route solo (a feat in itself-given the day's conditions) and made the Dunlap launch waypoint. He struggled for a while on the way to Squaw Valley before getting low enough that he side-hill landed at the base of hill 49917. I say the base of the hill, but he had a 90 minute hike-out. An epic day for David, he placed 4th for the day.

I really felt good about my flying this weekend. I team flew with one or two guys on comp wings each day and was able to contribute to the team so we all could make progress. I made the decision to continue on solo when it was necessary. The results aren't out yet, but I believe I placed 5th in both of the long tasks.

Results are HERE

A great weekend.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gotta Share

This site just entered my view, and I love it. The posters are classic anti-corp. and the humor is so cynical that it appeals - no end!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lessons from the WCPC

This Blog Entry has been edited for inclusion in the 2008 Rat Race Book. It is now an article entitled "Lessons I've Learned From my First Few Comps" and can be downloaded HERE

I got home late last night after a 10 hour drive. The pop-up trailer was very comfortable and made the week of flying enjoyable. . . I figure that having the 20-yr-old camper saved me approximately $700 over the 9 days I was in Jacksonville. I ate well & had fresh, strong coffee each morning while laying in my bed - Life was good, even when the temps dropped to 40F at night.

The flying at Woodrat was classic Rat. Nice buoyant areas of convergence that are accompanied by strong (sometimes nasty) turbulence. The tasks were very well suited to the conditions as they changed over the week. This competition attracted most of the top 50 pilots in the US and I was very happy to watch & learn. Josh, the Erics, Dean, Brad and many others were always willing to offer advice. Jug and I had a lot of fun flying together and watching as our different styles still had us meeting up at the next turnpoint or thermal, wing-tip to tip.

Lessons I learned are below - Some are repeats of lessons listed in prior comps. I never have said that I learn quickly or efficiently - Just that I'm learning. . .

Be ready to launch early. Then Launch early.

I launched at least 35 minutes before, and usually 50 minutes before the start. I am now confident that I can stay in the air if anyone can. This confidence allows me to sample the air, explore the start cylinder for lift, and try to make my own start rather than chase the gaggle.


I had 4 really good starts and a couple of marginal ones this week. A big lesson I learned is that being with the leaders, but low-man, as you cross the valley is not as competitive as being behind and high. Go fast by slowing down if the climbs haven't come at the right time.

Stay with the Gaggle.

It's not easy to stay with the comp wings on my Avax XC2, but I MUST try. If I get dropped, the second gaggle is an excellent place to be. It is easy to drop back (actually let them catch me) to the 2nd gaggle and be the 'high-guy' when they get to my thermal. It is sometimes amazing how close the second gaggle is (in time) to the leaders when getting to goal. More than once this week the leaders raced themselves into the ground, allowing the next batch of gliders to tip-toe through the weak patch & make goal.

Don't get low - or alone.

My two worst moments were the desperate last ten minutes of flights where I hadn't heeded the prior rules. I found myself low & alone. Without help, the chances of finding a low save are very small. It's all about making high probability decisions. - Even bold moves must be done with good odds. It's like playing poker & knowing all the odds - Going all-in looks bold to someone who doesn't realize the hands showing are in your favor 75% to 25%.

Don't Give up - Until it's time to give up.

On the last task I had goal almost made. I glided into Boaz Peak low, hoping to get to the 1k circle and then glide into the goal cylinder 1.75k (about a mile)away. As it turned out, I turned away from the 1k cylinder with 750 feet to go because I was heading downwind, into steeply rising terrain, in crap air, and I heard my inner voice say, "Tim - You are not going to get extra attention from the ladies, or rich, or famous, if you make this turnpoint. Do what's smart & fly the jet." So I did what I knew I should, turned & made a safe landing on my terms in a nice field. No fame ;-) but I get to fly another day. If I'd pushed it, I might have made goal, but it would have put me in 24th place overall, instead of 27th - worth it when the down-side was ugly? Nope. . .

As it was, I landed about 100 meters from where Marty had thrown his laundry when his wing went away at 50 meters in the air. He used up some luck & walked away unscathed. His luck was compounded when he made goal by a couple feet while he hung in the tree! Welcome to the Caterpillar Club Marty.

To summarize - I'm learning the game. Fly fast enough to stay with the gaggle but be ready to change gears and slow down when conditions warrant. My speed system was not set-up to allow me full bar & this hurt at times. A.J. flew his 2/3 with the comp wings by aggressive use of bar & pulled it off day after day. He's an excellent pilot and will go very far.

I had a great time at the WCPC. My flying wasn't as consistent as I'd like, but I am really understanding what's going on. When I make a bad decision, I'm realizing the consequences much sooner than before. I hope to be able to use these lessons to avoid the bad decisions in future flights. On an up note - I felt like I flew really well for portions of a couple tasks. My attention waned, or fatigue set in, or something - but for a while, things were really clicking.

Next comp is the BAPA comp in Dunlap next weekend. Then the Chelan XC Open in Chelan WA.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WCPC Day 7 - Task #6

The final day of the WCPC is over and, in my opinion, today was some of the sweetest flying of the week. Lift was abundant and convergence lines made for some extremely fast transitions. Jug & I had a fun day, trading leads (with respect to each other) and helping each other stay in the game.

The task was a 66k task with many valley crossings before the long leg down to Boaz Pk. and then Purcell.

The task was won by Greg Babush with Jack Brown in second and Marty Devietti in third. Marty had the distinction of crossing the goal cylinder under reserve. He said that as he came to rest hanging from the tree, he heard the Flytec "song" indicating he had crossed the goal. Fortunately he was completely unscathed in the incident.

This comp has been an extremely enjoyable one for me. The guys & gals that compete in the US are a small group & we depend on each other for guidance and council. I have had and given both & really enjoy the interaction.

Scores are HERE.

Thanks Mike & Gail, for another great week!

WCPC Day 6 - Task #5

Today's conditions were much like yesterday's. A blue day with low tops and an inversion around 5K and light N-NW winds that would freshen in the afternoon.

A 68K task was called to Grants Peak - Applegate - Donato (near Talent). It took a while to get cooking but the thermals were much less turbulent than yesterday. The start was a bit lazy since many were still trying to get max altitude before the crossing to Rabies. The first two gaggles set up well & we were off. The leader gaggle found a sweet thermal over the last ridge before the turnpoint & got high while the second gaggle broke up looking for similar lift. It took a bit of patience and tenacity to hit the first turnpoint, but once it was tagged - it was all downwind to the goal.

Dean Stratton placed first with Bill Hughes, Nick Greece & Josh Cohn close behind.
Marty Devietti and Greg Babush are 21 points appart so today should be exciting.

I had the kind of day that I would be happy to throw away - All week the name of the game was lee-side thermals. Today I got into a strong sinker in the lee & had to dive downwind to provide ground clearance. This was the end for me and my priority became a safe landing. I only got credit for 14km and placed 38th for the day.

A good buddy had a landing incident not far from my landing & broke his pelvis. He's doing well & I'm glad he'll heal soon.

Results are HERE

Today is the last day & I hope to fly better today.


Friday, June 13, 2008

WCPC Day 5 - Task #4

For a day that looked like none of the 'wind-techs' could stay up at 1pm, the day turned out to be lots of fun. A 38k task was called with 6 valley crossings and then a downwind leg to Purcel in the Applegate Valley. Start time for the task was 3pm.

The lift was very spotty and low but most of the pilots got into Rabies on the way to Fly-Air for the first valley crossing. When the leaders got to the ridge they found absolutely nada. I was about 1k behind the leaders and found a small core in the valley that gave me 100-200 ft/min. for 5 minutes and allowed me to fly directly to the first turnpoint and snipe the thermals from above. This put me in the race for a while but I managed to find myself low & alone twice today. The leaders raced smart and read the day well. Josh Cohn won the day with A.J. in second and Marty Devietti third.

I had another good start and flew well for the first 30% of the task. I was often at the top of the stack with the lead gaggle. Then I made some subtle but critical errors that put me low and alone. I had one very low save that really invigorated me for the remainder of the task, but flew dumb the last 2 legs of my flight. I went down about 5k short of goal. Today's task went to the good technical tacticians who knew when to race.

I think, psychologically, an interesting thing happened today. Many watched as the wind-techs dropped out of the sky & were not optimistic about getting around the task. It looked to me like there was an early mindset of impatience and a willingness to go on an early death glide. The caused many early landings in the LZ either on the way to or from the first turnpoint.

The task was devalued due to the early casualties and short task length. I placed 21st today.

Scores are HERE

My flight is HERE

The top 5 overall are:
Greg Babush
Marty Devietti
Jeff Wishnie
Hayden Glatte
Jack Brown

The top 5 Serial class are:
AJ Frye
Josh Riggs
Paul Murdock
Brett Hardin
Meredyth Malocsay

I am now sitting 7th in the Serial class and 23rd overall. 2 more tasks to go.

More soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

WCPC Day 4 - Task #3

The third task of the WCPC was a 63k task that took us over Rabies to Billy up valley towards Grants Pass then back to Jacksonville (Cemetery) then to the Woodrat Peak then an upwind leg to Applin.

The winds were generally North with the normal forecast for valley winds and the incumbant convergence areas. Today Woodrat got its pound of flesh by slapping & booting us in many places along the route. The first two legs across the valley & up to Billy were straight forward with some strong climbs over the high ground. The turbulant lift and strong sinky areas forced some into the lee at low altitudes. The long leg to Cemetary was challenging as the sink took many of us into the hills East of Burnt low. Many good pilots raced to the dirt here either into or returning from the Cemetery turnpoint. I had a low time with Jug and Babush but we were able to get up & back into the race.

As we headed to Woodrat Peak over Burnt ridge, we encountered a violent and strong left line along the convergence of the NE and the WNW valley wind. We got a nice climb and Jug & I tagged the Woodrat Peak turnpoint. Only one more leg to goal but a 16km.leg upwind made me wonder if a line along the convergence I had just flown over Burnt might be the route to goal. I didn't like the look of the flying I was seeing in the lee of Rabies and the fingers East of the Peak so I decided to give my idea a try. Jug didn't come with me, instead he flew a more direct line into the sinky lee of the ridge.

My route almost put me on the ground. As I approached the Burnt Ridge I encountered very strong sink and reached the ridge below ridge height in very turbulent disorganized air. I slowly worked towards the NW end of the ridge where I have had low saves before and manged to hang around for 10 minutes (it seemed like an hour) until a sweet but rowdy thermal took me to 7200'. I showed 10:1 glide to goal but had a headwind so I knew I'd need at least one more climb so I headed for the high ground over Rabies Peak.

Many of the leaders were grovelling at low altitude in the lee of the peak and on the foothills but I looked like I was in much better shape - or so it seemed. . . I saw Jack B. circling low but climbing so I headed for him (He was climbing in the turbulent lee - but I had to get up) As I approached Jack he was climbing much better & the sink I was encountering was really strong. I tried to find his ripper but had to settle for some rough lift. The late thermals were the kind where you thermal 1/2 of a turn and then sink for 1/2 turn, only to be blasted up 75' in the next 1/2 turn. I saw many impressive collapses today as the Rat bitch-slapped each of us. Fortunately I didn't get anything worth mentioning. My Avax XC2 handled beautifully in the challenging conditions.

It was at this point the wind really started howling from the NW down the valley. I saw 25 km./hr. at altitude and 20km./hr. at 1000'. I saw some really good pilots setting up to land & decided to join them. It had been a good flight of almost 4 hours, but I don't like scratching in winds of this velocity and turbulence of this ferosity. I landed in a big field with Brad G. and Dave W.

Marty won the day by a good margin, but my heros are the 4 Serial Pilots in goal - NICE JOB GUYS

I placed 17th today which puts me at 6th in the Serial Class & 24th overall. My starts have been very consistant and the bad decisions I've made have been easy to identify - which I hope means I won't repeat them. . .

Scores are HERE

Day 5 - Task 4 looks like it may be a bit more stable and light NE winds. . .


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WCPC - Day 3 - Task 2

The weather forecast was for 20k winds from the NW & N at altitude but a short task was called that would have all competitors down before 3:30pm.

We had 20 kids from the local school on launch & fielded many great questions from them. The task was a quick tour of the Ruch Valley from launch to Rabies Peak to Squires Peak to Burnt & out East to Cemetery then down to Donato. I'm sure the kids had a great view from launch of the first 20 minutes of the task.

This was a very fun task. It was very cold at altitude with fast (sometimes rough) climbs to cloudbase. The wind never became a problem so some great racing was had. A few of the top guys dirted prior to goal but there were at least 20 in goal with a good scattering along the last half of the 31k task.

I had another good start & made generally good decisions. I misjudged my approach to one of the turnpoints but generally am very happy with the flight. It was a lot of fun to race with Jug.

Scores are HERE


Monday, June 9, 2008

WCPC - Day 2 - No Task

No fly today. A dry front is forecast & Hayden says it's gunna blow. A great day to hike & tell lies.

Gail & Mike at cooking hamburgers for the pilots at 6pm.

Good flying conditions are forecast for tomorrow and the remainder of the week.


WCPC - Day 1 - Task 1

Today's task distance 63K.

The first task of the WCPC is over and it was a great day of flying. A 63kilometer task was called to Grants Pass then East to Gold Hill and back to the Ruch area to land at the Longsward winery. Winds were forecast to be northy but very light.

I launched as soon as it looked like folks were staying up and spent 45 minutes in the air prior to the start. I had great luck as the start time approached and was at the top of the stack right at the edge of the cylinder when my GPS sang its song * the race was on. This was my best start ever.

Rabies was working and soon there were three gaggles working to get up & on course. I was going to be conservative so I stayed with some lift longer than many did. This put me behind but able to see how the gaggles were doing ahead. I may not be so conservative in future tasks since getting behind doesn't seem to help as much as hurt,..

I made Grants Pass and dirted 3k before the Gold Hill turnpoint. 20 gliders or so made goal with many on the ground near my position. Babush & Devietti were first to goal. Results are HERE.
My flight is HERE.

I'm going to have to push harder to stay with the gaggle. Being conservative is only useful if you have help around & I was in the bad position of being alone & low when I dirted.

It was a great day though & everybody had fun.

Monday is forecast to be windy but we may fly a short task. . .

Sunday, June 8, 2008

News from Woodrat - WCPC

Well it's 8:30am & today is looking good for a long day of flying. Yesterday I had a nice 2 hour valley tour with climbs to 6000'. Many of us were surprised by the low (4500') freezing level & had chilly fingers. This area can be very technical with variable valley winds and many convergence areas during a long flight.

This comp is only subscribed to 45 pilots or so, but it has attracted most of the top pilots in the US. My goals this week are to make good starts, minimize the "alone" flying so I don't get in a hole by myself, and to make goal consistently. The tasks will be long and tough.

Gail & Mike Haley have put together another great event & the weather for the week is looking most excellent so it should be fun!

More soon.