Sunday, July 1, 2007

Goodbye, Lakeview!

The last task day of the Nationals dawned with light winds and clear skies, and we were all hopeful for a good task after the cold front that brought us two days of strong wind. They called a 104 km task past the Abert Rim, a long flight over a beautiful terrain feature. But after we started the launches, it became clear that the wind was picking up just as it did on previous days, and the growing gaggle was struggling to stay up in the shredded thermals. I launched early to try and get comfortable with the air before the start window opened, and caught a good cycle that put me on top of the stack briefly. For a moment there, I was seeing the headlines: Colby Comes out of Nowhere to Win Final Task of PG Nationals. But I guess my daydream wasn't helping me focus on my flight -- I soon found myself in the same horrible position as on previous days, in the leeside of the broken thermals, dodging chunks of turbulence and just trying to stay up and in front of the ridge. At one point I took my biggest whack ever, a symmetric collapse that knocked my wing out of sight behind me.

After a while I started to think better of staying in that stuff with the big boys, and I headed out over the flats to see if I could find any friendlier thermals, or at least get some more ground clearance. I found little to sustain me, and landed soon after, just short of the LZ. Moments later, Mike called a stop to the task, due to the strong winds and rough conditions at launch. I felt sort of justified in my decision to bail out, but also sort of sad for the few pilots that might want to continue in these conditions. I heard that many pilots were not even planning to launch once they saw the early crew in the air. And most pilots in the air did land at or near the LZ. But I heard later on that four pilots decided to continue the task, and they flew about halfway through, to the beginning of the Abert Rim, before landing due to the strong winds up there. I know a lot of pilots were hoping for a good last day of flying, but the conditions just didn't quite come through for us.

The awards ceremony was fun, and we were happily surprised to see Bob get the award for 10th place in the serial class. Yay Bob! And of course we were very proud of our honorary Hawaii pilot, Frank Brown, who took first place in the open class. Yay Frank!

Later on Dave, Bob, Ray and I went up for a glass-off flight, and even though it was still strong, the air was smooth and sweet as the sun set across the valley. Dave and I flew solo, Ray took Paul's son Sy on a tandem flight, and Bob opted to skip the sky parking to drive the van down the hill. Don and Motorhead Paul flew the glass-off at the Abert Rim, and reported great conditions there as well. After we returned to the HQ we partied with the remaining pilots long into the night, and then finally went back to pack our stuff for the trip out of here on Sunday. Goodbye, Lakeview!