Friday, June 28, 2013

Rat Race Sprint Task 1–Launch, Squires, Burnt, SugarL, Burnt, Cemetry, Donato - 42Km

rat race sprint tadk 1

Today was the first task in the Sprint race. Weather conditions were looking good with top of lift around 6500 with stronger winds above at 8000 ft in excess of 20mph. The task was called and it was pointed out that it was the longest task the sprint has had. At 42Km this was the type of task I was looking for again, not too long and not too short. Not that I have made goal yet but the longer the task means that more people are spread out and the air is less congested. sprint task 1

The sprint always follows the Race in this event, at least to my memory, and this meant the start was scheduled for 2:15 with 3 start gates to spread out the pilots even more. This was not an issue today as there was plenty of lift around launch. I launched at 2:00pm and quickly got to base which was nice. Still was a little windy but once at base I only had 3 minutes before the race started which was even better! No hanging around in the sky for an hour or so.

A lot of people had drifted back behind launch with the thermal and got to base while I had pushed out to the valley a little and then thermaleld up to base. This meant I was positioned well for entering the 1.5Km start cylinder around Squires and then onto tag the first point which was again Squires with a 0.4Km cylinder.

Prior to the task I had outlined my plan to a few other pilots. Get high at launch, glide to tag first waypoints and back, get high at launch again, transition to Burnt, get high again, push out to Rabies ridge, follow the ridge around to the peak, get high again move out to Sugar L gliding and returning to the ridge again  to rabies then over to Burnt, get high and glide to stream

The plan went pretty darn well today I have to admit. In fact I was leading all the way out to SugarL. Once on Rabies ridge it took a while to find lift. I was flying straight over the ridge get about 100 ft/min up. I got high over the peak and pushed out to SugarL. I arrived there too low for my liking and had to scratch around a while with not that many landing sites that looked good. However, with the West wind I managed to find a screamer that took me back to cloud base. It was quite funny flying back to Rabies ridge with a lot of folks flyng towards me!!! That’s what you get for being in front I guess.

Only mishap I had today was at cloudbase where there was a cloud that did throw my wing about pretty violently as I passed by the side of it. Nice to see the whispies for a change.iain launching sprint task 1

I transitioned to Burnt and still could only see one other glider flying with me. When I got to Burnt I noticed a whole bunch flying low below me. I thought where the heck did these folks come from>? Turns out it was the Race pilots on there way back looking for lift at Burnt.

They quickly found it as they saw me hitting a good one and climbing fast. I had a good chuckle to myself looking down on boom 9’s and IP6’s climbing up below me. I  was cranked pretty hard over trying to keep the tight circle that these guys were flying and stay above them but it was not to be. They quickly gained ground on me and I had to give way leaving the lift at around 5200ft.

By now there were about 5 gliders of the Sprint that had caught up with me. I saw Rich Hass and Randy close by as we all now looked for lift. I wasn’t getting that high and when I saw Rich push out again I followed him. We both arrived near Cemetery low and had to look for lift. It was very light. I saw Rich go even lower and I decide to saucer my way to the next ridge.little gaggle

When I got there there were only weak bubbles and nothing to take me higher. I landed in a nice big field like a butterfly. 1:45min in the air and 32.7Km travelled on task. At last that’s what my Flymaster said.

Turns out that it registered that I had hit Cemetery even though I hadn’t. Going to talk to that with Jug today! I got picked up by Sarge in the bus and headed off to goal to pick up more pilots. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Rich Hass had once again made a low save and got to goal! Darn it. He came in 3rd so it was a little disheartening to know that I could have been in the top 5 today also.

Never mind, tomorrow is another day!

Rat Race–Task 1–Launch-WoodRat-Rab PK-Woodrat-Cemetry-Donato - Sprint Cancelled


Task 1

Finally after 3 days the bad weather let up for us to get up to launch and wait it out until the clouds cleared. And it did take a while. It was 5PM before the actual launch for the Race was set with 3 start gates as the cloud cover was so low, around 4000ft which is just above launch. Due to the lateness of the day, the Sprint was cancelled and the flyers were given the opportunity of either taking off before the Race started and landing soon after, or wait until the Race closed. I chose to launch after the Race window closed so I could see the race unfold.iain waiting for clouds to clear

It was an ideal day for the live broadcasting as all the wings could easily be seen from launch. Gever and Jug did a great job of covering the event although we did have some connection issues as the tower we transmit to was in cloud the whole day.

It was a real struggle for the Race pilots and none made goal. The furthest out they got was 22Km on course of the 38Km set. As cloud was so low they had to keep out of it and a couple of boom 9’s had some issues trying to stay out. Interesting tactics by a few of the pilots also. Josh Cohn headed left of launch and down the Applegate valley to get to the sunniest part of the valley and eventually slowly but surely climbed to base. cloud ceilingOthers like Preacher waited on launch right past the start window until the sun had reached most of the valley and initially followed the route taken by Josh. However, en route, he saw folks climbing in the valley and went there instead which went well for him and he got up. Folks saw this and soon we had a gaggle in the middle of the valley. Meanwhile a lot of gliders had already sunk out. Those who managed to make it to the Rabie’s Peak TP  and transitioned to Burnt soon found that there was nothing but sink and a few boom 9’s along with other wings landed in Hunters LZ.waiting for right conditions

By this time it was now ok for the Sprint pilots to launch and have a free flight. The wind on launch had now basically gone to calm and the sunshine in the valley had disappeared. However, there were a lot of gliders managing to stay up and float around mid launch. I took off and joined them practicing turning right and having fun working the ridge lift. After a time I headed out to Longswords and was surprised by how boaty it was. I played with the speed bar on the way out and easily made Longswords even though I was only ever around 3300ft (launch is 3800). I flew past the winery then turned and went back to Fiasco to land there. I had never landed at Fiasco before but since my host for the week is Dave the owner, I thought it would be fun to land there. I landed right next to the tent but did drop the last 15 ft pretty darn quick, my legs absorbing the shock of landing such that I ended up with my butt on the ground for a short time.

Iain Landing at Fiasco

After that it was off to get LeAnn’s phone fixed at the local AT&T store then back to Jacksonville to join the rest of the Seattle crew celebrating Jeff Slotta’s birthday.

Thursday is looking sunny but windy but we will get to fly, so game on for today!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rat Race 2013 – Practice Day–22nd June


So here we are again at the Rat Race! This will be my 6th time here and it’s the 3rd time they are having both a Sprint and a Race competition during the week. This year I elected to fly in the Sprint as a lot of the Seattle crew had so much fun flying in the shorter Sprint format last year with EN B and EN C wings and not having to  compete with the XC gods on their hot IP6’s EN D’s. Also thought I would actually compete for a change and see how well I do in the shorter Sprint format. Also set myself a little challenge to actually get to goal this year by having a side bet with Jeff Slotta, John Schnebeck and Ralph Borium. For each km on course distance I get greater than each of them during each task of the comp, they pay me a dollar. Likewise for each Km distance on course they get on me I pay them a dollar. So, If we all make goal nobody pays anybody anything and we square up at the end of the week. If Jeff beats me by  say 10 Km and I beat Ralph and John by 5Km then I’m not out of pocket. So I have an added incentive to fly well this year.

Practice day is really just a way of ensuring that you find any issues live streamingwith your gear prior to actually starting the real comp and a way to get any nerves out your system. I also used the day to configure the live streaming on launch and I’m glad we did. We had a few buffering issues as we weren't getting the uploaded bandwidth that I had last year so it was good to actually find that out and then configure the equipment appropriately. So now we are set for the live streaming when ever we start the first real task, which looking at the weather may be Thursday, sad to say. To get notified when we start streaming just go to the ustream web site for the Rat Race PG and click follow. We normally start streaming around 11:00am.

The weather on Saturday was great and the number of people here on practice day were in excess of 100. taskThey set a task for the Race and Sprint competitors with the Race starting first. This mean that the Race folks all have to launch before the Sprint competitors get to launch. It seems a bit strange to me as it means that the Sprint competitors are all launching in stronger conditions.

The task for the sprint was a short 15Km around the Valley - Woodrat Start  2km exit – Rabies Peak 2Km – Off-RG 2Km – Woodra 2Km – Longswords goal. I was in line and about the 8th person to get off the hill. It’s a right hand day and not one I like but it didn’t bother me too much.

Iain launching custom Nova Ra, Yip, it’s the Scottish flag

However the air was pretty rowdy over launch..I was following a couple of gliders who were taking really large circles and falling out and in of the thermals which didn’t please me either. strong conditionsI let them go wide and turned a little tighter and soon I was about 800 over launch and above them and now flying with another couple of gliders who were doing the same. On one turn I saw Rich Hass head out to mid launch and thought what a good idea. I’ll go there get up and out. So I left the lift and followed him. Oops what a cardinal sin that was leaving lift. I got into the sink of the thermal and sank at 2.6m/s all the way to mid launch. I then spent the next 30 minutes scratching and not being able to get back up. Meanwhile, Rich had taken the lee side of the hill and managed to get one that took him up and out leaving me the only one to land in the Hunter LZ. Ah well, guess I won’t be doing that again if I want to save some dollars on my bet!

Most folks got up high and made the course easily as once above 7500 they easily glided the course. here’s hoping the weather changes soon and we get a chance to fly. Meanwhile, staying at the vineyard with Dave and Pam Palmer, owners of Fiasco winery has been great and they have a beautiful old property where the woodpeckers, chipmunks and ground squirrels wake you up around 6am every morning. Very cool.

So let’s now just wait for a good day to fly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rat Race 2012–June 17-24, Ruch, Oregon


Another year flies by and it’s time for Rat Race again! This year is going to be pretty special. Not only are there going to be two competitions going on in parallel – Rat Race and Rat Race Sprint – but the Rat Race also carries the US National moniker. This means we have a huge field this year and the total number of participants allowed has  already been reached – 175 – split approx. 50/50 between Race and Sprint.

With the change in competition rules, all pilots in the Rat Race will be flying EN C or D gliders, while pilots in the Sprint will be flying EN A, B or C. Of course, with the new 2 line En D wings, I expect to see a lot of the Niviuk IP6 in the air. a whole armada of green and black wings. It’s going to be some sight!

Additionally this year I have been working with the committee for the race to set up full media coverage. This will encompass live video feeds from launch as each task happens, where viewers will feel that they are part of the action! The plan here is to show the setup, interview pilots, seeing the task being set and the actual launches as they happen. Web cams from LZ area will provide views of the launch and pilots with SPOT devices will be shown on a map so you can follow your favorite person or see how they are progressing throughout the race.

All of this will be available via the web site which should be available live later today, 12th June. Wineries in the area like Fiasco and the bars/restaurants in Jacksonville will alos be showing the Race as it happens on their large TV Screens. All in all I am hoping this turns out well.

Last year I was at Rat Race only two weeks after my cycle accident and I was hurting. No excuses this year, so hoping to compete rather than fly to the wineries this time around! Smile

I’ll be driving down Friday the 15th and start blogging on the 16th, the practice day. Stay Tuned!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Monarca 2011–Task 4–Cancelled

Today the forecast showed that the winds would be picking up to around 25Km at 12,000ft. At launch it started off a bit like Monday, mild then strong,  but got progressively worse far quicker. A lot of blown launches and collapses in mid air. The clouds were developing very quickly and it was easy to see that this was going to be a hard task.

At 12:25, 5 minutes before the task started they cancelled the race.  I hadn’t launched as I could see the weather deteriorating, so it was a quick ride back to the LZ to see those who were still in the air take only 1 glide from Espina back to the LZ!

The next 2 days looks like being the same weather wise so it may be the end of the comp after only 3 tasks. Fingers crossed the weather system blows through quickly.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Monarca 2011– Task 3 70.2Km

Launch – Piano (5K start)– Divisa – La Pila – Capulin (0.5 enter) – Capulin (6K exit) – Capulin (0.5K enter) – Torre

vdb - task 3

Ok, I have to admit up front,  I didn’t fly the task today! With all good intentions I got to launch with my wing and went through the usual routine of unpacking, clearing the lines, setting it aside, programming my gps and getting ready to fly. Problem was my touche was still a hurting and the thought of 3 hours in the saddle and a potential hike out put paid to my big ideas of getting off the ground today. I actually did fly today but more of that later.

The task that was called today was indeed a little strange to a lot of folks. Rather than a real route it was more of a task. It started with a 5K start cylinder around the Piano LZ as usual which has been a great way to spread out the field on high pressure days where it takes some time for the inversion to clear. Then it was off to Divisa and La Pila. But then it got strange. They set the next waypoint, Capulin as a 0.5Km enter cylinder, then a 6Km exit cylinder followed by another 0.5Km enter cylinder. This meant that pilots had the choice of flying in any direction they wanted to for 6Km before coming back to the same waypoint. A novel idea indeed.

I watched folks launch today and get high and then move out. It got a little stronger on launch around 12:00 but then dissipated. jeffFolks didn’t seem to have any problems getting over to the mesa where they waited for around an hour until the start of the race.

I got a lift back to town with Oscar and JC and went for lunch to the café where they had internet so I could watch the Seattle’s folks progress via their SPOT updates.

Most didn’t have a problem getting to Divisa but then quite a few got stuck there. Jeff seemed to be flying a funny route indeed. It turned out he had forgotten to clear his route from the previous day and it was taking him to the wrong waypoint. He ended up landing close to where he dirted the day before. With hindsight, he chose to fly into the valley where there were better options to get retrieved.

Gilead, got to La Pila and then got stuck trying to get back up on to the mesa. Preacher and Mer got stuck on the mesa  flying back from La Pila leaving it to Frank and Dave to get to goal today. Congrats to them.

After lunch I went down to the LZ to get a massage and see if it helped my back. Best 50 bucks I spent this week! Pity it doesn’t work on the tailbone though. After the massage I walked back to Alas Des Hombres and got a ride up to La Torre. La torreI wanted to see how sore I would be flying, This turned out to be a great choice as I was treated to some spectacular views of Valle De Bravo and had a great flight right into the middle of the lake. I will try to get a video snippet posted  later.

This gave me a little boost and raised my hopes to fly a task tomorrow. We shall see!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monarca 2011–Task 2 63 Km

Launch – Piano – Laguna – Quintalia – Iglesi – LaCasa – Iglesi – Torre

vdb - task 2

Results are posted here

A no flying day for me today so little to write about from a personal flying perspective, so I have to report what folks told me.  I am feeling much better after my incident yesterday and I will be flying tomorrow. Really looking forward to it.

So today I first went down to check out my wing was okay. It was stored at Alas des Hombres. All was well. No holes or damage so I was happy. I managed to unpack it and repack so that was good. Walking is fine and sitting is fine but the transition was a little sore early this morning. By afternoon it was much better.WP_000147

I popped into Alas Des Hombres HQ to have a chat with the folks there. Chifus was having some issues with the scoring application on the computer so I dived in and helped him out. Ended up talking to an English guy in Europe to cobble together a workaround that allowed us to print off the scores and rankings from yesterday which then made it’s way to launch to be posted. My good deed for the day done.

I had breakfast at the café across the street and waited for Doug to come and join me. After that we walked down to the landing area to see how high the water was. That was my first time down there this year and the water level was high. It sure was beautiful.

Headed back up the road to a café where we got internet access and watched the updates on the SPOT application I developed for the Windows phone. It worked a treat!. WP_000145

Gilead sunk out in a flush cycle from launch, Jeff made it to the first turnpoint and Mer, Dave, Frank and Preacher were all doing good. So I walked back down to the LZ area at the lake to see if they would make goal.

On the way down there I picked up a bottle of Whisky that came with a set of binoculars. I thought that was pretty cool and I could use them to watch from a distance. I sat at the lz and poured myself a shot and pulled out the binoculars. I couldn’t see a damn thing! I was sitting next to JC the launch director and asked him to take a look to see what was wrong. We both laughed our heads off as we discovered that the binoculars were actually a Flask!!! WP_000153I sure had fun that day passing them around to folks who saw them lying on the table wanting to view the pilots! :-) Even worked well on the Seattle crew too!.

I watched Frank, Dave, Mer and Preacher arrive at goal! Congrats to them. They said the conditions today were much mellower than yesterday but it was a little hard at the beginning getting up high. However once the convergence kicked in it was not a problem. In fact getting down to the LZ was a problem.

From a distance we could all see another reserve toss way up on the mesa and whoever it was was really high. Pilot seemingly was ok.

Doug had walked down to the LZ with his wing and both he and Gilead went up to Torre for a late evening flight which Doug really enjoyed. Doug is set to do that each day instead of going to the Penon.WP_000157

Well that’s it. Well almost. I forgot about Sparky!. Yes, one of the pilots I know flew into a  live power line  whilst landing today. He was slung shot back when his chest hit the lines while  his wing ended up being draped over the lines. A few sparks and singed lines but all ended up well! Except for the citrus tree that the local farmer was not too happy about!.  One lucky man indeed!