Saturday, September 24, 2011

Santa Cruz Flats, day 5 & 6

Day 5 took us east again. Towards Newman's Peak. The first leg was a very slow flight for me. Very low and in weak broken thermals. I had made the mistake of going to early and had to work hard due to that. Those that left half an hour later climbed to 3000 m in the start circle and glided the whole first leg. It took me 1,5 hours below 1000 m AGL... Once I got to Newman's peak I finally hit some nicer lift, but I also rushed it because the day was going to come to an end and landed out. I seem to make one bad decision after the other.

By the way, the optimized route feature of the Compeo+ can play tricks on you. I wanted to take the 10 km cylinder and climb out on the peak again. You can see in the track log that I wasted altitude by not heading to the closest point on the cylinder, but by going to the optimized point for the route. Which wasn't my optimal tactical point at all.

Yesterday, we had a 125 km task to the north east. It was super slow in the flats again. But this time, I stayed with the gaggle and we slowly did make progress. We headed to the mountain south west of Phoenix, where beautiful, high clouds were waiting for us. While we were climbing in the first good thermal of the day there, I saw two fighter jets approach us from the west. And they were exactly at our altitude, heading straight for us and dumping fuel. I left the thermal to get out of their path, but immediately regretted that, because I was on my own now and surely they were going to make a move to divert the gaggle. But they didn't, they continued dead ahead and I think Larry Bunner saw them from very, very close. The thermal had an intense jet fuel smell after their pass.

I climbed to 3500 m, followed the ridge and went for the turnpoint in the flats. Again, a 30 km cylinder and it seems to be very hard to fly the shortest distance to the cylinder and back, when your desired out direction is different from the route to the next turnpoint. Back on the ridge I set a new personal height record of 4500 m. The instrument indicated I had final glide to goal (50 km!), but I knew it was going to be hard. Dustin and I left the same thermal at the same height, but chose a slightly different path. I glided only 40 km (only 10,6:1) and landed 13 km short. Dustin made it to goal. I seem to be really bad at picking lines this comp...

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