|Landing at the Winery|
July 6, 2013
Rat Race Paragliding Competition: Task #3
Whew. It's hot. A third task for the Rat Race, and our last day of competition was a scorcher. The shade tent at launch was a popular place, until it was time to take our group picture. Flying suits were left on the ground today, and even light layers were warm enough for climbing into higher altitudes in the high temperatures.
Our third task seemed tough. Up and over the hills to the south, then back to launch and over to a landing at Longsword Winery. Everyone wanted to land there because a free glass of wine always sounds enticing after a nice flight!
The Race group took off first as usual for their longer task. They formed a beautiful gaggle in a thermal overhead, circling like vultures over a particularly tasty morsel. When the start gate opened for them, they streamed out in a line on their way to a stellar flight.
The Sprint group window opened just then, and I got busy setting up my equipment. I was borrowing another vario from the Flymaster dealer, so my flight deck actually looked really professional with all the electronics strewn across it. Conditions were a little light as we started off, but we all managed to get high in time for the start gate. This time a big group of us took off together, and I was in good company as they streamed out ahead of me. And then they showed me where the thermals were. Yay.
The advice from the pros in this sport is always simple. Get high, then stay high. For the first time, today I was actually able to do that, soaring in strong thermals up to almost 8,000 feet, where the trees below me started to look smaller and less scary. Over the highest peak, I was able to climb to my highest elevation of the day, which made the furthest turnpoint seem really easy to reach. Wings were circling below me but I made it over the valley easily and back to the hills. Ok, so I was getting lower by that time, but instead of desperately circling in the weak lift, I sort of surfed the ridgeline back up to the higher spots. Then a booming thermal took me back up to where the clouds would have been if there had been any in the blue sky. One other pilot in a blue wing was circling up with me, with him hooting and hollering in the strong lift taking us higher and higher.
From there, it was easy to get back to launch. One more thermal up, and I had the LZ on glide. No, I didn't really care about my speed, so I did a few extra circles in lift anyway, and came over the finish circle with thousands of feet of extra elevation. YAY, I FINALLY MADE GOAL!!!!!
Since I had height to play with, it gave me time to go fly around a little more without any stress. Then I celebrated with about 40 deep spiral turns, which is the best part of paragliding (for me, anyway). Landing at the winery was a busy place, with wings balled up all over the place and the hot sun beating down. Everyone was ecstatic that they had made goal, many of them like me, for the first time ever in a competition.
The final awards ceremony was that evening. I was happy to come third again for the day in the women's category. Even more awesome, I came in second overall in the Sprint Women's category! (For those of you who are slightly confused by how I placed higher in the overall than I ever did on a single day, there is only one word for it: consistency. A few of the women who beat me must have done really well on one day, and then not so well the other days.) Although the woman in first place, Julie Spiegler, made goal and came first every day, beating me by a country mile. The prizes were some really beautiful glass vases, very cool!
The last days results and the overall RESULTS ARE HERE.