PWC Sun Valley Day 7

Task: B17 4k Entry, B17 3k, A48 20k, B52 1k, A43 2k ESS, A43 Goal Line. Optimized Distance: 98km.

Although late out of camp, we got to the top of the hill in good time and quickly entered a task into our instruments. Down to launch for a very early launch window opening and off the hill by about 11:15 am. Here’s where things got slow. There was thick smoke and haze and a visible inversion, which happened to be at about 3,200m. It was slow going around the launch area. I had a fairly low save all alone over the buildings just below launch that got me back up to launch height, but getting much higher was a struggle, if not impossible.

As the race start time passed, nobody left. We all felt like we were too low to make the crossing. The actual start cylinder was still 8k away, so we were a good 30 minutes behind to begin with. Eventually people started to go for it low. Martin Orlik and I decided to go for a more southerly route down towards Hailey, then cross the valley towards some hills that looked great: into the wind, full sun on three sides, etc. The bulk of the field went straight across the valley to arrive more quickly and higher, but further to the north on these hills. It was either the power of the gaggle, pure luck, or absolute genius flying that allowed these pilots to climb out of the northwest end of these hills, while Martin and I (and a few others now) had nothing on the sunny, windward side. I ridge soared for half an hour or so at the top of this hill before trying to fly out over the valley to find something. I landed, and about an hour and a half later, Martin was still in the same spot on the hill, ridge soaring until something came through. I got picked up by a German maid and carried to headquarters. I hope Martin’s patience paid off.

Back at HQ, we watched the lead gaggle make their way through the course, usually under 3,000m. It looked like low, slow going, but they were ticking through the kilometers. Somewhere in there some dangerous wind came along and the task was stopped, but it will be scored. I think a couple of pilots had made goal before it was stopped. Each pilot will be scored according to where they were 10 minutes before the task was stopped, then given a 2:1 glide ratio for distance from that point. Sounds like Mark Watts flew well today, so he probably won the event.

Even if I had flown well today, it wasn’t the big, fast, beautiful type of day that this place is known for. With another stopped task, it feels like an anticlimactic end to an already below average week, but hey, that’s just me sitting at camp - maybe the guys in goal and close to goal will have different stories.


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