As I start writing this morning, the scores are not correct. They have me third for the day (I wish). I fairly sure I finished 6th. Apparently David finished first and landed at the goal airstrip and tucked his glider under the trees. None of us who flew over later saw his glider. Most of the pilots landed in a much larger field 1/2 mile to the west. Yesterday's task was probably the longest in the US that had pilots make goal. David Glover said 35 pilots made goal.
We did not get back that late, it was only 9:45. Tim Meaney was still down loading the GPS's. The sky this morning is mostly overcast. The humidity is the highest I have felt since arriving in Florida. It should be an interesting day, as they all have been.
At the pilots meeting David had all the pilots stand up who had the longest flight of their life yesterday. At least 20 pilots stood up. What was more amazing to me was that David new all their names. I would not be surprised if he knew the names of all the pilots here at the meet (close to 100 of them). He also had all the volunteers come to the from of the meeting to express thanks for all their help. It seemed like there were more volunteers than pilots. No wonder the meet is running so smoothly.
Davis said the weather was supposed to be better than yesterday. It was hard to believe with all the clouds. It looked like the day would shut down. I just can't figure out this Florida weather. In California, I can tell you what the weather for the next three days will be, just by looking at the sky. In Florida, I can't tell what will happen in three hours. The primary task for the day was a counter clockwise romp around the green swamp. We did this task last year and it was a lot of fun. Total distance is 80.8 miles. The secondary task was out to the northwest and back (57 miles).
We were caught off guard today and we actually flew the primary task. Last year when I flew this task it took a very long time so, if it looked good, I wanted to take the first start time. I had to work a little after the tow to get up, but I found myself at cloud base 5 minutes and 2 miles from the start circle. Johan and another pilot were with me. I headed strait for the start circle and arrived after the 2 miles still at cloud base. I decided to go for it. Johan also took this first start but I never saw him again. I did see the other pilot turn back for the second start time.
I made the first turn point with only one thermal (16 miles). As I approached the turn point, I saw a flex wing glider converging. It was Bo. Now, even though we flew most of the task within site of each other, I would not say we flew together. I felt like a fat seagull watching a swallow flittering about. Bo would cross back and for, constantly change thermaling directions while I just blundered ahead. A couple of times I saw him low and figured I would not see him again, and then 5 or 6 miles later he would show up at my altitude. I could hear Ollie, Mark and John behind me, slowly falling behind so I figured I might be doing well today.
I tried my best to stay at cloud base since it was buoyant there and the lift was easier to find. Anytime I got as low as 4,000' I would work up even light lift, 100 to 200 fpm. It took 50 miles for the leaders to make up the 15 minute head start I had. To my surprise, it was Christoff who first caught me. He was ahead of both Alex and David. It was here that I made my first of two major mistakes. I was above Alex and Christoff and to their left 1/4 mile. I saw them climbing, but I was climbing as well so I stayed where I was. After two more 360's, they were already above me. By the time I got over there, they were 1,000' higher and pulling away. David and Bo joined them and the left me behind.
My second mistake was at the last turnpoint. I thought I saw Bo circling 2 miles to the left of the turnpoint. I figured he new what he was doing so I went over to him. It turned out it was a free flyer and I had to fly 4 extra miles to get the turnpoint. This cost me 8 minutes. Just after the turnpoint I climbed to 5,000'. My vario said I had goal by 200'. The lift was gone so I went on glide. 4 miles out, my vario said I was going to be 250 feet short. I hit some lift and climbed until it said I had goal by 400'. The same thing happened today that happened yesterday. I hit lift all the way into goal. I crossed at 1,700'. During the entire flight the lowest I found myself was 2,700'. Alex took first followed by David and really coming on strong this meet was Christoff in third.
I had a very good landing in no wind conditions. Yesterday, Jim Yocom told me his technique for landing in light or no wind conditions. Instead of flaring, he starts running while holding up the glider. He says it will then just settle on your shoulders. When I am skimming the ground at 20 mph, it just does not look like I could run that fast. I told him I would try it the next time I had a no wind landing, which turned out to be today. It worked just like he said it would. Thanks Jim!
There were only three rigids at goal when I landed and only one flex wing, Bo. When Bo crossed goal he grabbed the money bag, which makes two days in a row. As I had plenty of time, I decided to watch the flex wings and other rigids come to goal. The next rigid was 20 minutes later than me, followed by Ron Gleason 45 minutes later. About an hour and 7 minutes after Bo landed Oleg and another pilot crossed goal. Oleg's harness zipper got stuck and when he attempted to belly land, he whacked hard. What was significant about the hour and seven minutes was, if no other flex wing pilot crossed goal less than an hour after Bo, he would win the day. I have never seen Bo tense, but he was counting down the minutes. He ended up winning the day as will as the money in the bag.
John went down before the third turnpoint. Mark went down just a mile and a half short of goal. Ollie joined him a short time later. A lot of other rigid wing pilots went down including Jim Yocom.
I treated myself to dinner tonight. I have only had dinner four times in the last 9 days. I either get busy and forget about it, or I have not had the time.
The 90 degree turn on the middle right of my track log was when I thought I saw Bo. Oh well, I had a great flight anyway. Since I missed goal the other day I figured I was going to go all out today and it worked for me.