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We had some surprise entertainment last night. A Russian rock and roll group called the Red Eleveses played for several hours. They were very good. On top of that, the Shipyard Brewery provided free beer and even free root beer for us non beer drinkers. For Christoff's sake (the AIR rep), I hope Felix is not reading this. Between the beer and the music, he was having a really, really good time. If Felix realized how much fun he is having, he might ask Christoff to pay him to be here.
Speaking of Christoff, he is doing very well this year. He made goal again yesterday with a good time. He crossed at 150', just enough to make one 360 to land.
When I packed my clothes for this trip, I thought if I packed enough for every day, I would not have to take my clothes to the laundry mat. Well, my plan went bad, as in smell. I did not take into consideration the warm humid weather here in Florida. When I woke up this morning I could no longer take the smell of the dirty laundry, so I dropped it off at the laundry mat in Groveland. They charge $8.50 for 9 pounds of laundry, which includes folding.
There was a lot of excitement at the goal yesterday. Several pilots landed just a few feet short. Several more only made it by a few feet. Quite a few of the flex wing pilots landed a mile or less short.
At the pilots meeting there were a lot of bleary eyes. The pilots who stayed up for the band obviously enjoyed themselves. The wind was blowing 10 mph out of the south by 10:00. Davis gave the weather report and said the winds were supposed to be lighter. The lift was predicted at 500 to 600 fpm with cloud bases at 5,000' rising to 6,000' later in the day. An 87 mile out and return task was called to the northwest.
Steve Kroop fooled everyone today by ringing the bell for the start of staging 15 minutes early. There was a mad scramble by the pilots who participate in the great Oklahoma land grab. The start times for the task were moved earlier than yesterday, with the first start at 1:15.
As with almost every day so far, the task was changed at the staging area. The new task was a 125 mile downwind task to a waypoint named SWINDL. This was further than I have ever flown a hang glider. I was the first to tow from our line, at 12:45. I was not too worried about getting to the start circle since the winds were still strong. Everyone I talked to had an exciting tow with all the turbulence.
Ollie, Mark and myself all agreed that we should get up and go, even if we leave before the first start clock. The only penalty for leaving early is the amount of time before the start time is added to your total time for the task. As it worked out, we (Ollie and I along with Jim Yocom and Ron Gleason) crossed just after the first start time at 1:15. Mark took the second start time at 1:30.
The lift on course was good and we were making good time, but the other three pilots were slowly leaving me behind. At the 45 mile mark I got low with Jim and Ollie. They got up and I sank ever further. I was down to 1200' before I found very week lift. I worked it for a long time. While I was struggling, Ollie gained 8 miles on me. He reported being low and possibly landing. When I heard this, I stayed with the lift I had as long as possible which topped out at 5,600'.
This turned out to be the right decision as I did not find lift again until I was down to 2,000' where I caught up to Ron Gleason again. Like usual, he slowly left me behind again. We were also joined by a flex wing. As we approached a large swamp, Ron and the flex wing did a couple of 360's and headed out. I did not like the looks of that swamp so I climbed up to 6,000' where they had left the lift.
I made it across the swamp and was down to 1300' before finding a thermal. This one as well as all the others today was difficult to stay in the core. It would be 500 up on one side and 100 up on the other. I rode it back above 5,000'. I found out later that Ron had landed there.
20 miles from goal I climbed to 6,000 and my computer said I was 200' short of making it. This number climbed to 250' short by 10 miles where I hit lift. This was a really good one and I climbed to 4,400' at which time my vario said I would make it by 1000'. After flying 125 miles I did not want to land short of goal. In the last 10 miles I hit lift for 8 of those miles. At one point I was over 5,000' and I had the bar stuffed the entire time. I crossed goal at 4,400'
I had just increased my longest flight by almost 20 miles. I had to pee very bad. I tried to do the deed in flight, but I found my leg loops made it impossible. I had to go so bad, I thought I might loose bladder control when I flared. It turned out to be a nice dry landing.
Mark Stump managed to stay in the air and landed 20 minutes after me. Since he took the second clock, I was only 5 minutes ahead. As I crossed goal there were 5 gliders ahead of me. When I landed I saw that Christoff was already there. I guess he fly's better on beer and party. Alex was there first, followed by Jim Yocom 10 minutes later. I was about 30 minutes after Jim. John the flex wing pilot in our group made it 98 miles for a personal best.
There was a small plane next to the gliders when I landed. I saw this plane earlier at Quest. As it turned out, the pilot gave Alex a ride back to Quest, leaving Christoff to load up his gear and drive it back to Quest. 15 minutes after I made goal, 10 or so flexies crossed goal. I think 10 rigids and 17 flexies made goal.
In the tracks above, I am Red, Mark light blue, John green, and Ollie purple.
This will be our latest night yet. I managed to grab my laptop and throw it in the truck when they changed the task, so I am able to write this up on the drive back.