Sunday, July 29, 2012

UK Nationals - Task 4

A short 70 km task was set because there was a risk of overdevelopment. We started with a ridge run which was easy due to the moderate south wind. After that, we had a valley crossing pretty early in the day and I took the gamble to leave the lead gaggle and take the straight line across the valley, instead of going to the mountains downwind. It worked out and I was a few km ahead at the second turnpoint.

Then it was onto Aujour to take the thermal which would bring me to goal. It was a detour, but the day was very unstable and Aujour was in the sun, so I expected it to work. When I arrived on Aujour, I could barely ridge-soar it. It took a few minutes to find the first decent thermal and be the time I did my first circle, the others arrived at full speed. I was a bit unlucky, because the whole mountain started to produce strong 5 m/s thermals, I arrived just a few minutes too early...

I had had warnings over the radio, informing me of strong south winds on the camp site and I didn't trust the 1:9 glide we were on, so I did a few turns in a strong thermal on our way to St.-Genis. Andreas and Luis continued and arrived a minute ahead in goal. I was 4th and a bit disappointed, but had enjoyed the flying very much.

It was indeed very windy on landing and it was pretty scary to see that the majority of pilots (free flyers and also competitors) were burning off excess altitude downwind instead of upwind of the landing field. In many cases they were flying slowly towards the landing field, sometimes doing some extra turns. Just one bad turbulence could get those pilots into serious trouble...

I decided to write something about this, because I got into trouble myself last week. I was doing a standard U-circuit approach on a field I absolutely didn't want to overshoot (the bombout/emergency landing with the angry farmer in St.-Vincent-les-Forts). Because I didn't want to overshoot, I was doing my downwind slower than I used to. The moment I decided to turn in, a turbulence hit me and I couldn't turn in for a while. I barely made it over the electrical wires next to the field... There is only one safe way to do approaches: fast U-circuits. They allow you to react to changing situations.

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