Thursday, June 23, 2011
2011 Rat Race - Day 4 - Task 4
I launched shortly after the launch window opened and climbed up above Woodrat Peak to the inversion, which was fairly low. It was also obvious that there was considerably more wind than on previous days and than forecast. The progression across the valley to the start cylinder at Rabies Ridge was not a simple one climb transition for many, since the headwinds were strong and the climbs were low. I managed to cross with a few friends and we soon found a nice thermal - nice, only because it was better than the alternative. The truth is that the climbs today were weird, one-sided, meandering, shards of lift punctuated with areas that can only be described as ‘holes’ where the wing wasn’t really flying but rather, quivering and hovering in the white-water like conditions.
Once the start-time arrived, it was on to Billys to work our way to Grant’s Peak as we did yesterday. The into the wind performance of the 2011 2-liners is amazing. I’ve not seen a time when the performance of the latest comp ships was so noticeable when compared to last year’s model or the latest hot Serial Class wings. What this meant today was that a few of the 2-liners were able to make a transition past Humbug canyon that the rest of us found to be quite a slug-fest.
In this part of Oregon the afternoon winds arrive like a swift moving tide - sliding down the valleys rapidly and relentlessly. At the Humbug area we hit the wall of wind that turned the thermals into nasty rides that you hesitated to turn in. But turn we did. Over and over we tried to climb through the inversion. At the top-of-climb I’d try to penetrate forward, towards goal, only to take a necessary climb and frisbee back to the same position and altitude. I was at 8.4 miles from Grant’s Pk. at least 4 times with very little progress. It was pretty obvious that the winds were getting stronger than one should sensibly fly in, so I headed to the main valley and the road. I wasn’t alone - many pilots also chose to land before the option of landing carried more risk than acceptable. There were 8 of us in the same big field and after roughly 1:30 in the air we had only flown about 15 Km. Shortly after I landed the Task was “stopped” which allows the scored to be based on progress to the point
The task winners got 98 points - those of us who flew and fought the fight to Humbug only to decide to land in the valley next to the Applegate Store got 55 points. The Sprint race was cancelled before the start.
Results are at http://flyxc.org/2011RatRace.html
It's cloudy this morning (thursday) but forecasts indicate that it may be a day.