Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chelan Day 3 - NO TASK

Too much wind on launch again today. Too bad, it was a beautiful day. We all enjoyed the local charms.

Hope to fly tomorrow.


Chelan Day 2 - NO TASK

Called at 12:00 due to high winds associated with a small system passage.

Amir Izadi took some photos of the start and I seem to be placed well in the frame ;-) I'm on the grey/blue XC2

Thanks Amir -

It is 8 am on Day 3 (Wednesday) and winds are already very brisk. The forecast isn't encouraging for today so I doubt we'll fly. I saw Batman last night - Great movie.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chelan XC Open - Day 1 - Task 1

Chelan Day One - Task 1

Today's forecast looked very good so anticipation was high at launch. We assembled a bit early to ensure that the rides to the top were adequate for the entire group. That meant that we spent two and a half hours killing time, socializing, checking out set-up, then checking it again. The lift forecast called for lower top-of-climbs than Saturday, but the winds aloft were forecast to be light until the Souterlies kicked in later. I took some time to review my goal for the day & this contest in particular. The flats can be tricky when the winds kick in and cloud bands can also require a gear change until the lift increases. My goals for the day were to get to goal & not make mistakes that put me in a "hole" that delays or dirts me. . .

The task was a short one - 63 kilometers (38 miles) that took us East to Simms Junction then North to Leahy. I launched early and got up easily, about 50 minutes before the start time. The thermals got rather crowded and tense prior to the start but sense prevailed. My start was spot on, I wasn't high guy but I was in the front and plenty high when I made it to the rim on the other side of the Columbia. None of the gliders ahead were turning in lift so I headed North a bit to reach a few gliders turning in weak lift. This turn took me to a sunny area and cut the corner so I made up some time on all the guys ahead of me who, eventually, came over also. Things went well for the next 20 miles & I wasn't far behind the lead gaggle until I got within 5 miles of Simms.

There was quite a shuffle in the lead gaggle as Marty, Dean, and many others got low & eventually landed near the turn-point. A few caught a ripper while many gliders were dirting in the shadow over Simms so I changed gears and took any & all climbing opportunities so that I could stay in the air until the sun-band came along. The low climb rate allowed the wind to take me NW (downwind) of the course line, which was very frustrating to watch, but I needed to stay in the air to make goal, so I took the slow climbs. Eventually my patience paid off & I caught a ripper that allowed me to get high enough to penetrate to the Simms turnpoint and turn back to the lift.

The wind that had been my nemesis for 35 minutes then became my friend. I climbed to 7000' and saw 7:1 glide required to goal, so I headed to goal. I pushed full speed-bar and kept it in until the end of the speed section 11 kilometers later. At times I saw 75 kM (46 mph) groundspeed.

The goal had many pilots already in the field but it was nice to start the comp with a flight to goal. I don't know the standings yet, but the scores will be HERE. It sounds like Jeff Wishney won the day and there were 25-30 in goal. I'm currently in 4th in the Serial class & 26th overall.

My flight is HERE.

The Tuesday forecast looks marginal due to winds, but I'll be ready if we fly.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

First flight in Chelan

Saturday was my first day of flying at Chelan and the morning forecast looked doubtful that we would have a good flight, due to gusty winds. We drove up to launch at 1130am to look things over & see how the winds looked. My first thoughts were that the topography of the area is beautiful with the juxtaposition of the calm blue water of the Columbia at the bottom of a 2000' gorge that features amazing vertical rock walls. Once across the Columbia River gorge, in front East of launch, the land is FLAT agricultural land similar to the topography in Killarney AUS.

I was resigned to a local scenic flight. Today & tomorrow are just practice so I wanted a low impact flight to get the lay of the land. The sky was 50% or more covered in high cirro-stratus so the thermal action was dampened. A couple of students launched early & encountered some lift, so I decided to suit up & get off the hill before the mad rush began. I decided to only wear my shorts & a thin summer top & summer gloves, since I was not planning a long-high day.

The launch went well & I soon cored a thermal & got to 6000' (about 2300' over) I didn't want to cross the gorge without 6500' or so, and I didn't want to go alone, so I just boated around at the top of lift for 85 minutes while the launch queue filed into the air. Many were struggling down low so I tried to stay at the top of lift with some success. Finally a bunch of us got up to 6800' and headed across to the East side of the Columbia river gorge. I was looking at the clouds overhead & decided to let the guys on the UP Edges & IcePeaks to fight it out while I just took my time & stayed in the blue band of clouds. This plan worked for quite awhile - I'd stay in the sunny area until the clouds were approaching the sun, then fly on 1/2 to full bar until I approached the edge of the shadows again. Soon I was overflying many pilots who had raced into the shadows & dirted. I didn't have any waypoints loaded in my GPS and no map so I just kept heading East with a few other guys. I was freezing my butt off at 10000' in my shorts, but it was great to have the altitude.

Soon it was just me, Nick G. and Amir (on an XC2 also) heading for the Grand Culee Dam. I got a bit ahead & contacted Babush for a while as we headed Northeast. After 4 hours I was cold, hungry, sunburned & had a bladder stretched to its limits, so I decided to join Babush, Nick, and soon, Eric R. in a nice field. 10 minutes after getting to the road, Nick negotiated a ride back to within 15 miles of Chelan with a gun-toten, Wild Turkey drinkin' local guy for three of us. Tom picked us up in Brewster and we got back to camp around 7pm. It was a full day ;-)

Total distance 84 kilometers (51 miles)- not a bad first flight in Chelan. The comp begins Monday. My flight can be viewed HERE

For grins I'll be SPOT-Casting along the routes this week - You can see my progress by going to MY SPOT PAGE (WHICH I THINK ONLY SHOWS THE LAST 24 HOURS)

The crowd is starting to grow & it looks like it will be a fun week.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Heading North for the Chelan XC Open!

I am heading out tomorrow for the Chelan XC Open. This competition will act as the Canadian National Championships and is also a Pre-Paragliding World Cup event. It has attracted pilots from all over the world. The conditions look good for high & long tasks so it should be a very fun meet.

The drive to Chelan (Ctrl-click for a map of the area complete with waypoints) is over 1000 miles and will take two days. Our plan is to stop in Klamath Falls for the night. Tom from the Bay Area will be sharing my truck for the trip.

I'm hoping to get 1 or 2 flights in before the competition begins on Monday since I don't have a lot of experience in flatland flying and no experience in Chelan. . . getting familiar with the area will really help my flying.

I'm feeling ready though. My gear is dialed in. My batteries are charged & I'm feeling good physically, so no excuses ;-) This will undoubtedly be the biggest comp so far this year. It is subscribed to 120 pilots. The WCPC in June had only 50 and the Rat Race, earlier this month, had 88. Lots of talented pilots on the list too.

I'll be blogging as best I can - I don't know the state of cyber connectivity at our camp and/or competition HQ, but will blog as opportunity allows.

If you'd like to see my SPOT in action, you can visit my Spot Page and view the "spot tracking" as I fly.

I hope you all get some air. Wish me luck!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Between Competitions-

I’ve had a month between the West Coast Paragliding Championships and the upcoming Chelan XC Open to reflect on my quest to improve my performance and competition results this season. I haven’t had a chance to fly (due to my work schedule and the adverse local weather/fires) so I’ve taken the opportunity to tweak my gear and work on my ‘brainage’.

The gear tweaks consisted of some fine tuning of the speed system – I replaced my speed system line with 4mm tech-cord and eliminated the exit grommet from the system. I simply put a slit in the neoprene to allow the cord to exit the harness fairing without rubbing on the abrasive edge of the grommet. This seems to eliminate the ‘skinning’ problem I encountered at the WCPC which required twice replacing the speed system cordage during the comp.

I also modified my cockpit by relocating and changing the geometry of the hang straps and redesigning the flap hold-down system. I use a strap running around the waist strap and bag to give the cockpit some stability when yankin’ & bankin’.

WRT working on my brainage. . . I can’t understate the importance of proper mental attitude & preparation for a comp. Just as the mental variable can improve the chance of survival in a “defining moment” in one’s life (read Lawrence Gonzales’ book “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why”) so can one’s outlook affect his performance.

We make many decisions each minute during a task. We are evaluating the air, position of other competitors, maximizing climbs, altering our speed in transitions, etc. Each of these variables can affect the outcome of the flight. At any one moment, we are 15 minutes and 100 or so decisions away from a landing. Gravity is our insistent and relentless constant. We have to beat (or at least delay our submission to) gravity while using it to propel us along our route to get to goal.

I’ve been rereading “The Secrets of Champions” by Dennis Pagen with a new perspective. Some gems from the best:

From Bob Baier:

"It should be made clear that if a pilot is afraid, overexcited, pushing too hard, or thinking too much – anything that prevents relaxation – he or she will not be able to learn how to get the ‘picture.’ So the first rule in becoming an excellent thermal pilot is to mentally relax.

I believe pilots should be in competition, and flying in general, for the long run. Being overly aggressive usually burns you out if it doesn’t injure you or worse.

It’s important to remember (that) we fly for fun, and pushing past the safety margins for a chance to win is not my idea of fun."

Of course I’ve also read a lot of how-to in this great book.

Next stop is Chelan, WA to fly the Chelan XC Open in late July to do some flatland flying. I hope that my experiences in Killarney back in January will help me adapt to this foreign flying venue.

Later –


Monday, July 7, 2008

Rat Race 2008

I see from my site stats that many folks are coming to this blog because it's listed as a Rat Race Blog on the website - Sorry for the hip-fake, but I was unable to make the Rat Race this year. I'll be at the Chelan Open later in July instead.

Here are some links for those looking for Rat Race 2008 info:

The Scores can be found HERE

The Rat Race website is HERE

And, finally, Bret's blog is HERE

And Alex's blog HERE

Fly Safe -