Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Final Task Cancelled

Today's last task of the comp seemed very reasonable, and I was hopeful that I might be lucky enough to finally make it into goal this year. But as we prepared for the day up on launch, we began to feel incredibly strong thermal cycles blasting through the launch area, enough to make the trees shake and whistle. We saw wind techs getting flushed hard in massive sink below launch, and at the same time wind tech Nicole was getting blasted into the sky above launch. She made it up above 11,000 feet at one point! About two thirds of the field launched and began to rocket up in the strong lift, with me at the tail end of that bunch. I felt kind of parked, and when I looked up I could see the other pilots specking out above me, but not turning circles in any kind of organized start gaggles like on previous days, just spread out and hanging there. Some pilots were reporting altitudes of over 13,000 feet, which sets a new altitude record for Woodrat, along with climbs of 2000 feet per minute. They were also reporting a fairly strong wind up there. The wind picked up and filled in on launch shortly after I got airborne, and the call was made to cancel the day, out of concern for newer comp pilots and those flying lower rated wings. I had actually already decided to call it for myself: when they announced the official decision, I was already halfway to the nice landing field at the Longsword Vineyard, chugging along into the wind on a slow and bumpy trajectory, anticipating a nice refreshing complimentary glass of sparking white wine. Which turned out to be a whole bottle, thanks to Bonnie and Pete!

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