Thursday, October 4, 2012

Santa Cruz Flats Hang Gliding Nationals 2012

was in the same spot as previous years, the Fransisco Grande resort 40 miles south of Phoenix Arizona. The meet staff did such a great job of reporting on it, on the event blog, I yielded instead to sleep. Life had been very busy the previous few weeks...
We flew 7 out of the 7 days at the comp, and as is common there the air was hot and surprisingly stable. I think we saw 104'F (40'C) on the hottest day, most other days were just a couple degrees cooler. Thank goodness for the ordered launch.
As has come to be known, knowing the winning strategy is a fickle challenge. Most often it is essential to stay with the main gaggle, just to remain in the air. But as the day progresses knowing when to speed up, or slow down is far more difficult. 
The conditions are most often unforgiving, one wrong move often puts pilots on the ground, scratching their head as to why. Day 2 was like that for me...  
A meteorological quirky trend of the Santa Cruz Flats is just after the peak heat of the day (say ~4pm) lift in the flats shuts down, whereas in the mountains; lift is pumping right through the inversion.

This led to some interesting tasks, where we would limp and grovel our way to the mountains, get crazy high, then glide back (hopefully), without hitting a single bump of lift.
After 27 hours of airtime, considerable luck and Kraig letting me demo this new Litespeed RX3.5, I managed 3rd place just stealing it from Matt Barker at the last moment.

Here is the glider that squeaked me into goal, days 6 & 7. 16km and 26km respectively, with not a bump along the way, making it by just 20 feet ! The improvement in handling is the biggest difference, and it helped immensely not only in the gaggle flying, but picking a line to glide.  What a great way to end a season. Final results here :  Congratulations to Jamie for a flawlessly run meet, and a huge thanks to the helpers and tug pilots. More pictures here.

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