Sunday, May 31, 2009

East Coast Championships (Day 1)

I woke this morning to sound of distant thunder.  I thought about breaking down my glider, but decided it was probably already too late.  Luckily the storm only produced a weak gust front and moderate rain.  Several of us early risers drove out for breakfast and were greeted with sunshine when we stepped outside about an hour later.

We were given a short task since cloud base was predicted to be low, lift weak, and the wind blowing a bit.  I wanted to launch early to avoid the possibility of a sea breeze washing away any weak lift the soggy ground was producing.  I never really got a chance to sample the air since I was abnormally high on the tug immediately after launch.  I tried to get down, but just could not.  I released because I was afraid of pulling the tug's tail off the ground and forcing its nose into the ground.  (I later talked to the tug pilot and he thought he was towing too fast.)

After relaxing a bit and watching most other pilots sink out I suited up for another go.  I was dropped off near Davis and we slowly started climbing.  A small gaggle formed as we drifted away from the field.  We were got low near the start circle after our first glide.  We lost two pilots and I almost landed getting down to 550 feet (167 m).  However, I found a slow climb and made it all the way to 2700 feet (822 m); the high point of the flight.  Davis, Larry, and Paris left me behind, but I soon noticed all three struggling and then watched Davis and Larry land.  Paris had a slow climb drifting to the east away from course line.  I decided to stick to the course line even if it meant flying into the blue.  I had a another weak climb, drifted a bit, then had a rowdy landing at a nice farm with a huge corn field.

Paris managed to get back on course line and won the day.  Rodger won the sport class for the day.  The scores are available online.

Flights: 2, Time: 1:41, Distance: 13 miles

East Coast Championships (Day 0)

I had a quick and easy drive from Massachusetts to Highland Aerosports in Ridgely Maryland.  I left around 6:15, shot through New York City like a greased pig, dodged patrolmen, stopped to load up on groceries and still managed to arrive before 12:00.

Brian, Charlie, John C, Steve, and Rodger greeted me as I threw up my tent.  Although I was late, Charlie and Paris suggested I join in on the informal crosswind task for the day.  Pilots were already towing by the time I started rigging.  My paced slowed as I noticed everyone was essentially towing and then quickly landing.  A few pilots finally managed to hang on in the increasing wind but when several pilots in a row snapped weak links down low, I decided it just wasn't worth it.  A short time later I got a call from Rodger requesting a pick-up.  Brian, John, and I hopped into Rodger's car for a 15 mile joy ride across state lines.  Everyone else landed back at the field.

Most of the usual culprits are here, including Linda who looks quite well and is using her arm much more than I was at this point after my break.

Looks like I'll be riding with Charlie and Jack with David as our driver.

Rain is predicted for tomorrow morning, but it is supposed to dry out by afternoon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rough Trail

I decided not to fly on Monday mostly because I thought it was going to be blown out at Ascutney in central Vermont or a combination of too cross and strong at the Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts.  So Amy and I biked into our small town for the annual Memorial Day parade while pilots headed for the Mohawk Trail.  After the parade I noticed there was little wind; which was much different than forecasted.  Once back home I saw the updated forecast was calling for less wind with a better direction at the Mohawk Trail.  A quick call to John B confirmed he was also having second thoughts so we decided to give it a shot despite our late start.

We arrived at a launch packed with gliders still on the ground despite the good looking conditions.  Apparently it was gusty earlier but improving.  Brooks suited up and took his new Sensor for its maiden flight.  I weaved my glider through the maze of Dacron to Brooks' former spot and started tossing battens into the sail.

The gusts were increasing as Peter J took off and cruised around launch.  He started climbing well as we spotted Brooks near cloud base heading across the valley.  Jeff C was up next and waited for a mellow cycle which showed up just as Peter was sinking.  Peter recommended that Jeff stay on the ground until the sinking air had passed.  Peter gave the word and Jeff launched.  Rodger stepped onto launch as we watched Jeff slowly sink out into the unforgiving bailout LZ below.  Jeff got worked over on approach and that put the brakes on everyone's desire to launch.  The building gust cycles and increasingly cross wind weren't helping either.  Eventually Rodger backed off launch, Gary drove down to fetch Jeff, and we watched Peter and Brooks get banged around on their approaches further down the valley much later.

We waited for the day to die back a bit which it seemed to do around 4:30 PM. Art launched and I followed.  Art joked earlier that I would be looking down on him but he was wrong.  He climbed and headed down the ridge even before I launched.  I chased after him along the ridge but gave up when a nasty thermal slapped my side wires and then threw me towards the ridge.  After some more thrashing I realized the moderately strong wind was blowing almost 90 degrees across the ridge, shredding the thermals into rolling parcels of "whoop ass".

It wasn't pleasant but there were tolerable spots such as circling up in thermals above the ridge.  I watched each pilot launch, make a few passes in front of launch, and then quickly dart down the ridge to avoid landing in the bailout LZ and suffer Jeff's fate!

John got on the radio and announced he wasn't having fun.  I wasn't either, but I surely didn't want to land in this stuff.  John decided he had enough and was going to land in the biggest field in the valley.  He was tossed about and got trashed on approach.  That was enough encouragement for me to stay airborne and hope an evening glass-off would smooth things out before I had to land.

The air did mellow enough for Brian, Doug, and I to explore the ridge line as we slowly plowed upwind between climbs.  Doug eventually headed out to the mini-golf course to land and Brian headed towards John's mega-field a short time later.  John commented that the tree tops were not shaking around as much but quickly appended amended his evaluation as Brian practiced full-body weight-shift control on final approach.  That was enough to convince me to take another climb!

I noticed the wind lines on the lakes were less pronounced as the valley fell into the shadow of Mount Greylock.  I also noticed widespread lift as the valley started to lift off as the katabatic flow on the shaded side pushed the warmer air up on the sunny side.  It was time to land.  I found some slightly sinking air on the shaded side of the valley and had an uneventful landing in the same field as Brian and John.

I had just moved my glider out of the hayfield when we spotted someone walking our way.  I greeted the person who identified himself as the owner.  I apologized for landing in the knee-high hayfield.  He stated it was going to "cost me" a hundred dollars.  I apologized again.  He said not to feel bad because he was going to get his money.  Gulp.  He then cracked a smile and asked if he had me worried.  Dang straight he did.  We all shared a good laugh at my expense.  John, the owner, talked with Gary, John B, and Brian as I packed up.  Rodger stopped by and said he and Art landed a few miles down the ridge.  The folks that farm the property also stopped by to check on everyone as I was finishing up.  We said goodbye and loaded up.  Gary was kind enough to shuttle us back to our vehicles before joining us for dinner at the pub in town.

Flights: 1, Duration: 2:20, Distance: 5 miles

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring in New England

Although it was misty and cloudy at home in Massachusetts, the forecast for the mountains to the north and west was good enough to post a message to see if anyone else wanted to play.  The forecast for Mount Ascutney to the northwest was the best with moderate northwest winds and reasonable lift.  Since I am one of the few pilots entrusted with the keys to the park for off-season flying, access would not be a problem but getting my truck driven down would be.  The other options were the Mohawk Trail to the west with weaker lift and lower cloud bases or West Rutland with a challenging wind direction.  Most of the usual fliers and their drivers were staying home after flying in great conditions on Monday and Wednesday.  It was easy to convince Peter J to go no matter where we flew.  However John B was in only if we flew at Mount Ascutney.

Peter showed up even before I was packed to go!  John showed up a short time later assuming things would somehow work out.  After exhausting our complete list of possible drivers and beginning our drive to the Mohawk Trail, I got a call from Dan who needed access to Mount Ascutney.  He could get my truck driven back down if I could chaperon him, Ed and Doug.  No problem.  Its cool when things magically fall into place.

We got to the mountain later than usual but still took time to spot Dan's car on the other side of the mountain in case we didn't get up.  At the parking lot on top it was apparent the winds were not as forecasted.  The winds were southwest instead of northwest and a bit stronger.  We weighed our options and decided to hike our packs in and check the conditions on launch.  Yep, about 90 degrees cross but there were some launch-able cycles mixed in.  After more debate, hand wringing, and the prediction of northwesterly winds later in the day, we hiked 0.8 km (0.5) back out to get our gliders.

By the time we returned with our gliders the launch-able cycles were more frequent and longer lasting.  We made the right decision.  (If we had made the wrong decision it would have meant a long de-moralizing hike back out with our equipment.)  We rigged, thanked Jim N and Louie in advance for driving our vehicles back down, and settled on a launch order.  We decided to launch an advanced rated pilot first (Peter) and then the 3 intermediate pilots (Ed, Dan, and Doug), with the 2 remaining advanced pilots (John and I) assisting the intermediates on launch and then launching last.

Peter had a good launch and immediately started climbing.  He was soon climbing away at 5 m/s (1000 fpm) and telling everyone to dress warmly.  I was eager to go before a large blanket of thick cirrus would return and put out the newly ignited thermals.  Ed, Doug, and Dan launched and quickly climbed above launch.  John graciously allowed me to go next.  (I wanted an experience pilot on my upwind wing since this was my first foot launch for the season and the first time I launched my T2C with its larger control frame.)  Launch went well and I was soon climbing away at 2 m/s (400 fpm) over the shaded mountain.  Although I didn't have the express ride Peter had, I did climb to over 2400 m (8100 feet).  I watched Dan and Doug glide away on their first XC flights from Ascutney to Morningside.  (All 3 landed at Morningside and got their ceremonial dunking in the pond to commemorate their achievement. Congratulations!)

Since I launching late (4:00 PM), the sky was being smothered by cirrus, and I didn't have a driver I was initially hesitant to fly east, but its hard to stay put when you're that high.  I floated around Claremont until John caught up and we headed out.

We found abundant weak lift under dying clouds but nothing solid.  I flew southeast and got a great view of the wind turbines in Lempster.  Instead of diving into the ridge south of Mount Sunapee, we took a conservative route east of Newport.  Of course, we ended up back at Mount Sunapee lower than if we had just dove across in the first place!  However, it was fun playing in the weak 0.5 m/s (100 fpm) lift.  I pointed out suitable LZs south of Mount Sunapee to John as I stumbled into a nice lee-side climb to over 1800 m (6000 ft).

I went on a long glide over the trees south of Bradford.  I wasn't sure I had Henniker on glide but saw a cleared hill top that would do for LZ if I encountered sink.  Instead of sink, I got another lazy climb over the cleared hill top and easily glided into Henniker at 1500 m (5000 ft).  At that point it was almost 7:00 PM, the thick cirrus made it seem even later, and John had radioed he was landing back at Bradford.  Instead of gliding on towards Concord, I whipped out the camera and did some sightseeing.  I flew over the ski area and over the covered bridge in town.

I watched two tractors plowing and disking a field as two kayakers floating down the nearby river.  (You can see both in the picture).  After playing around some more I flew along the river on my downwind leg and called out to the kayakers below.  I could see them looking around for "the voice" but wonder if they eventually saw me as I flew beyond them.

I landed at a nice airfield with a paved runway facing directly into the wind.  I don't usually land on pavement, but the orientation of the runway and the sloping field on either side made it the reasonable choice.  I was immediately greeted by three children and their dog.  I chatted with them as I walked back to the mowed yard around the hanger and continued answering a thousand questions as I broke down.  I showed them airborne pictures of their town and neighborhood, let them poke around the glider, and play with my heat packs.

Peter, who landed at Morningside, was gathering up downed pilots on the way home in my truck.  He and John got to me just as it was getting dark.  We stopped at a brew-pub in Nashua for some good food and drink and caught a couple tunes from live band.  It wasn't a typical day or an epic day but a very enjoyable and rewarding day just the same.  It was good to be back home.

Flights: 1, Time: 2:41, Distance: 38.7 miles

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Flytec Rally (Day 7)

It took a few extra minutes to limber up when I crawled out of the tent on the last day of the Flytec Rally.  Two weeks of flying was starting to show with stiff muscles and harness blisters.  After a leisurely breakfast in the shade with Bill and Patrick I walked over to help with a photo-shoot.  Dustin, Jeff S, Jeff O, and Johnny were going to do some formation flying with Bobby running the helmet cam.  I wound up Rhett as he towed Jeff S and Johnny up at the same time.  I made sure I ran to the outside as Bobby was following right behind them as they rolled (ran) out.

The task for the day was a 87 mile (140 km) out-and-back to a turn point called "Shady" to the northwest just south of Ocala.  Although many pilots worried about the lack of clouds, I was more worried about the sea breeze blowing through.  Clouds started popping as the launch window opened so I jumped in as soon as pilots started drifting to their gliders.

Bobby dropped me in a good climb and I played at base for 30 minutes by myself.  Almost the entire field gathered in a climb to the northwest and we formed the first massive gaggle of the meet.  I didn't like the pseudo-in-control bobbing around so I headed back towards the field to find a saner place to wait.  It didn't take long for the gaggle to also head back so I just had to put up with the chaos until the second start time rolled over.

I knew it was going to be a long day so I wasn't upset to see the gaggle jump ahead without me.  I settled into a comfortable pace with Charlie and Patrick.  We caught the lead gaggle when we skipped a climb south of Leesburg.  After a couple good climbs we glided out into the blue south of Ocala.  Patrick and Charlie hit hard times as I continued pressing on with a smaller and smaller group.  Mike and I rounded the turn point together but Mike missed a climb I found a few miles later.  Kevin joined in for a climb before we started a long glide south.  Kevin had a better line to the east as I tried to stay on or upwind (west) of the course line.  I found a little climb that allowed me enough altitude to join Kevin, Jeff S, Glen, and Zak at Leesburg.  The climbs in the sea breeze were now weak and topping out around 3000 feet (900 m).  I found most of the climbs but the group help everyone get the most of the weak thermals.

I got a jump on the group and headed out towards goal needing another 500 - 600 feet (150 - 180 m).  I decided I didn't want to cross the town of Groveland low in a sea breeze so I back tracked about 1/2 mile (0.8 km) to Zak when he started turning.  I came in too low to get his climb and landed in a pasture alongside a lake.  I was surprised to find the field was lined with sprinkler pipes spaced just far enough apart to allow me to land between them.  It was a bit more drama than I needed.

After some more quality time with cows and a very inquisitive Black Angus bull the land owner showed up.  She was a bit unhappy to see me but was friendly and allowed Bill and Patrick to pull the van up to the gate.  I was 3.7 miles (6 km) short.  Kevin landed about the same distance out as I did, Zak was 1 km short while Jeff and Glen got a climb over my head and made it in.

We had drinks and dinner at Quest Air while the scores were tabulated.  The awards ceremony was informal but fun.  Ollie won the rigid class and Glen narrowly beat Zak for the flex wing class.  All the scores are available online.  The partying lasted well into the night and even included cross dressing.  ;-)

I hit the road around 6:30 the next morning.  The driving was uneventful except for a traffic jam around Fredericksburg Virginia that nixed any plans of driving the entire distance in one day.  I grabbed some sleep north of Baltimore Maryland, took some pictures of the New York City skyline, and was home in time to chat with Jeff B in the air as he was flying from Mount Ascutney to somewhere near the New Hampshire coast line.

I had many good flights during my "spring training" in Florida.  I racked up 26 flights, 70.5 hours of air time, and 922.6 miles.  Now I turn my attention to work and flying the green hills and mountains of New England.

Flights: 1, Time: 5:33, Distance: 83 miles

Friday, May 08, 2009

Flytec Rally (Day 6)

Today started with breakfast as we watched Dustin doing tandem flights.  Meanwhile Bobby and Johnny were getting ready for some airborne video recording.  Bobby removed the front supports from the tug so he could get an unobstructed view with his helmet mounted camera.

He and Johnny planned the video shoot which included filming Johnny's launch and tow.

The original task for the day was a trip around the Green Swamp but that was changed when it became apparent that the sea breeze would make it difficult complete the task.  An alternative task was called but even that was changed at the last minute as I was sitting at the head of the launch line.  The final task was south to the intersection of Deen Still and Route 33, then back north to an airfield near Leesburg, and then back to Quest.  The total distance was 76.6 miles (123 km).
As I previously said, I was the first to launch.  Rhett dropped me in a sweet climb that I took to cloud base.  I spent the next hour playing around and slowly working my way upwind to the south west.  I was in perfect position for the first start and started right on time.  I watched some other pilots leave with less altitude and felt sorry for them but had to backtrack to their climb a couple thermals later to get back to cloud base.  The day was straightforward, but I did make a couple costly mistakes.  I went around one blue hole when I should have dived right through with Jeff S.  I also picked a bad time to "relieve myself" in the air and play with an eagle.  By the time I got back to looking at my instruments I already had goal by several thousand feet.  I tried to cash in my altitude for speed, but the air was too rough and I ended crossing the finish line with a couple thousand feet (which means I could have finished faster instead of climbing to gain that altitude).
I raced into goal just as Zippy and OB, who took the 3rd start, caught Jeff S, myself, and several others that took the first start 30 minutes earlier.  Ouch!  (The scores are available online.)
Tomorrow is the last day of the Flytec Rally.
Flights: 1, Duration: 4:04, Distance: 76.6 miles

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Flytec Rally (Day 5)

I camped at the airfield in Americus Georgia last evening and awoke to yet another approaching series of showers and thunderstorms.  I packed up my wet tent and joined Bill and Patrick for the first course of breakfast.

I had second breakfast with Dennis in town before heading to the pilots meeting.

The weather for the next 3 days of the Flytec Rally looked wet and windy to the north so the rally turned around and returned to Quest Air in Groveland Florida.  I shared the ride back with Steve Kroop who was graciously driving my truck along the course so I could continue home from Tennessee.  Thank you very much Steve.

Once back at Quest Air, we setup our tents, rigged our gliders, watched some pilots, such as Zak, blow off steam with evening flights.

After sunset most of the pilots met at the Olive Garden for dinner, conversation, and to download waypoints.  Tomorrow we start flying again.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Flytec Rally (Day 4)

We hung out at the Moultrie airport this morning wondering if the low clouds would lift and if thunderstorms would ruin the day.

The severe storms were predicted to arrive around sunset so we prepared to commit aviation.  The goal today was the historic Souther Field about 74 miles (120 km) away in Americus Georgia.

Although I wanted to go early, I ended up behind the entire priority queue which turned out to be good luck since some pilots had to take a couple tows.  I flew around the start circle at cloud base fighting a strong crosswind waiting for a crew to leave.  It wasn't until the third start gate that Dustin, Glen, and a few others pushed forward.  Dustin raced on while I snagged a few hundred feet in a quick climb.  I watched Glen head WNW below me but decided to head out on course line with Campbell.  I watched the cloud I was gliding to fall apart and ended up struggling with Campbell as we both tried to match the other's circle thinking the other was in lift!

I gave up and headed downwind in an attempt to stay airborne.  I drew out about 20 buzzards that pimped off me but really didn't help me climb much.  When they started flapping I knew it was time to move on.  I tried a brush fire and some dry fields, but sank out into a nice large hayfield well off course line.  I was bummed out but at least I got a couple hours of flying over new scenery, got to fly up close with a lot of birds, and had a sweet "walk in" landing.

On the way to Americus I heard Linda broke her arm on landing.  Mark said it was probably similar to the break I had.  Good luck Linda and heal quickly.

Flights: 1, Time: 2:14, Distance: 18 miles

Flytec Rally (Day 3)

Challenging day today in the air as we fought a west southwest wind and a sea breeze as we worked our way north from Williston Florida to Moultrie Georgia over 140 miles (255 km) away.  We towed from a nice little flower-covered north-south grass strip that had trees on the western edge.  We worried about rotor but it wasn't too bad.

I quickly drifted to the northeast after releasing, but worked by way around to the northwest edge of the start circle and headed west after leaving with Campbell and Linda long after the lead gaggle left.  I ventured just a little too far and got worked over by some very rough air at the boundary and decided to reverse course and head inland to smoother air.  By the time I did that I lost most of the remaining gliders.

I had a couple good climbs that allowed me to catch up with Lucas and Charlie.  We made some progress, but were getting blown east of the course line.  I watched Charlie land northwest of Gainesville and shortly after Patrick joined Lucas and I.  We made good time and spent a few climbs with Russell in his sail plane as we circled around a large bulge in the sea breeze front.

Approaching the stalled front and storms to the north looked like heading to Mordor from "The Lord of the Rings".  The lift died off but the wind continued.  All three of us were low and I was heading to an LZ when I stumbled into some weak lift.  Lucas and I climbed out but Patrick didn't make it.  Lucas headed west and I headed northwest for a couple more climbs.  I watched Lucas land as I flew a couple miles further and circled down to a nice LZ with nothing but trees beyond.  I was 73 miles (117 km) short.

I drove around town last night and was delighted by the beautiful courthouse in the middle of town.

Flights: 1, Time: 4:24, Distance: 73 miles

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Flytec Rally (Day 2)

After spending an evening at a familiar field, Quest Air, we loaded up and headed to the northwest to Williston Florida.  The distance was shorter than yesterday's at 72 miles (105 km), but I was worried about the cross wind, high cirrus, and a sea breeze.  It turned out that each concern was justified.

I was high at the 3rd start gate, but was at the northeast section instead of on the course line to the northwest.  I headed out by myself and got low after my first glide.  Unlike yesterday I found a sweet 600 fpm (3 m/s) climb after a short time groveling and was back on course.  I hooked up with Eric, Lucas, and Patrick as we approached Ocala.  It was obvious that the sea breeze was well inland and already east of goal.  Instead of diving into the clear, I decided, along with the rest of the gang, to fly further north to some clouds and hope to get high before diving in.  We played yo-yo a couple times before diving forward.

I had a better line then Eric and Lucas, but turned back to land in a awesome field at an upscale horse farm.  I was busy checking for horses and didn't see either of them until I was turning from my downwind leg to the base leg.  Yikes!  (They came in on a straight glide.)  We worked it out nicely and landed within a minute of each other.

A well-dressed woman in a Mercedes pulled up through the electric gate and told us we couldn't be there.  I did my best to apologize and avoided a "scene".

No one made goal, but we all manage to find a spot that served both beer and ice cream so everyone was happy.  I also spent my first night inside in over a month last night at a motel.

Flights: 1, Time: 3:24, Distance: 56 miles

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Flytec Rally (Day 1)

Spent 5.5 hours in the air today flying from the Florida Ridge in southern Florida to Quest Air in mid-state Florida.  Kevin, Patrick and I, along with a couple other pilots, had a nearly perfect start today drifting through the start circle at cloud base seconds after the start gate opened.

Kevin, Campbell and I got an early jump on most of the pack and were opening up a good lead when I hit crushing sink south of Lake Placid.  I was under 1000 feet (300 m) for the longest time as I drifted from field to field trying to get back up.  After everyone passed by I got a slow climb that got me back into the game.  Once I was running at cloud base again I started gaining on the other trailing pilots.  The sky between Wallaby Ranch and Quest Air was shaded from convergence clouds and it claimed several pilots including Patrick.  I found a slow climb about 15 miles (24 km) out that got me high enough to cruise in.  I was slow, but I got there.

Flights: 1, Time: 5:31, Distance: 126 miles

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Rest Day

Today was a rest day between the Rob Kells Memorial Competition at the Florida Ridge and the Flytec Rally from Clewiston Florida and Lookout Mountain Tennessee.  Jamie was extremely organized and registration was quick and painless for the rally this morning.  We had a brief pilots meeting this evening and are ready to go in the morning.

Patrick, Bill, and I stopped in to watch some paragliders tow up on some nearby roads.  This is Dave's towing rig and Dave towing up for a 40 mile (64 km) triangle that ended back at the flight park.

Later in the afternoon Johnny tuned and tested a new glider.

At lot of pilots stopped in at the Gater Bait Pub for "steak night" and some live country-blues music.  Although they were crowded it was a good time.

Tomorrow the rally hits the road.  First goal is Quest Air in Orlando.

(I want to thank Mel and Christan for driving my truck to Orlando today.)

Florida Ridge (Day 7)

Although the start time was pushed back 30 minutes a large group of pilots rushed to the staging area even before the cones marking the launch line were setup up.  The end result was that I was near the end of the staging line and that would have a huge affect on my outcome for the day.

The sky was much bluer and the wind much lighter.  Aside from the staging rush, the pace relaxed a bit.

I stepped away from the staging area for a few minutes only to return and find out the task had been changed.  I didn't notice the task was now longer so I didn't rush to get into line before everyone else jumped in.  I ended up near the end of the launch line and was one of the last out of the field.
Even with the late start, a sweet tow from Rhett had me floating up where I could see the gaggle sitting at the start circle.  I probably could have reached the gaggle and maybe even been in a reasonable position at the first start but decided to wait for another group to form.  I waited 30 minutes to hook up with Patrick, but had to leave with a couple other stragglers.
Once we struggled with the lake breeze on the second leg, I knew it would be very difficult to even complete the course.  Lucas, Eric, and I did our best to make it through the blue choppy area.  Patrick caught up with us at the second turn point and we flew together for the rest of the flight.
The third leg was easy and the forth leg reasonable.  As Patrick and I were low searching for lift, by harness came unzipped from the top to my stomach.  Not wanting to squirt out of my harness, I wrapped my tow bridal around the shoulder straps but couldn't manage to tie a knot.  So I stuck the loose end in my mouth when I went on glide to keep to harness closed.
By the time we reached the last turn point, the day was shutting down.  I managed one weak climb and did a long technical glide over Arcadia to land at the airport 16 miles (25 km) short of the 106 mile (170 km) task.
Moments after I landed a fire truck and rescue vehicle pulled up.  For a moment I feared they were called out for me, but it turned out someone had a bad day when he drove his motorcycle into a fence.  One of the squad came over to warn me a helicopter was on the way and wanted to know if I would be OK with my glider.  I thanked him for his concern and we chatted a few minutes before the helicopter arrived.  A few minutes later the ambulance showed up.  I hope the patient's day improved from that point on.
Bill, Patrick, and Steve arrived just as I finished packing and we headed back to the Florida Ridge for drinks, pizza, and the awards ceremony.  The full results are available online.  Later we spent some time around the fire pit before wondering off into the dark to tents.
Although the first few days were blown out, we had a lot of good flying during this meet.  The climbs were stronger and taller than it has been in last years due to the drought.  It was fun racing along playing "connect the dots" with scenic pastures and orange groves far below.
Flights: 1, Time: 4:20, Distance: 90 miles