Thursday, July 2, 2009


Our fourth task day was another truly stellar day of textbook thermal conditions, maybe even nicer air than the previous day. I got my highest altitude yet, more than seven thousand, in the longest and strongest smooth thermal ride I've ever made. I topped it out with Hawaii state champion Nick and Seattle Chris, but after that thermal ride I was flooded with overconfidence and flew a different line to the next turnpoint than they took. There was no good reason to choose the line I took - and it put me over the next turnpoint alone, too far to catch up with the other guys. They joined up with the gaggle that made it to goal, while I struggled over the foothills in the Rogue valley and had to land in a big field. One of the guys I landed with was Tom Moock, and he helped me analyze my flight to identify the most significant mistake I made: leaving Chris and Nick to fly alone. Unless you're one of the top guys with good odds of pioneering the best line to a given spot, you should always try to take a line that puts you in the vicinity of other pilots. There is strength in numbers. As Tom reminded me, "If you don't have friends you don't have anything at all." I hope I can take that lesson to heart and stick with my buddies next time.

At least five people made it to goal for their first time. I made it to the final turnpoint but never got high after that, just like on the previous day, but I guess I made it a few valleys further along the course. Nick and Chris made goal, of course! I have the cleverest friends - I just need to wise up and appreciate them more.

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