The Gordon Report – If nice guys finish last it’s not because they are nice guys.
We had a forecast today calling for 13 mph wind from the NW gusting to 20 with a high of 67 very dry air. For once they got it pretty well right. Great conditions for soaring if you managed the wind. Thermals were abundant but needed to be worked hard – sometimes with tight turns to stay in the lift and other times moving around a lot to re-acquire the rising air multiple times in a few minutes. Sometimes the lift was so strong that we were specked out within 2 to 3 minutes from launch. Other times pilots were on the ground inside of 2 minutes when they found the inevitable sink cycles in between. It was certainly windy and cold but a great change from the heat we have experienced the last few months.
1st round was an 8 minute max and saw our CD Rick Eckel set the scene for the day with a near perfect score of 7:59 and 100 landing. Rusty and I also got our times and landings in pretty soft lift early. Kris Van Nostran was 4th best in the round so it was this 4 that launched first in the Honors Callup format for the next round 2.
The air was available but you needed to set off in the right direction to start with and this 2nd round I did not do that and paid the price with only half the task time before I was grounded. Rick showed the way by working very hard and getting his time plus a landing while both Rusty and Kris fell short of their maxes also with tough air. Jim MacLean, Jody Miller and Dan Johns found better conditions a little later in the round and got away to record great scores and get called up to fly first in Round 3 with Rick.
Most of the day we had either buzzards or eagles and ocasionally cranes working air in the vicinity and though the conditions were clearly choppy the lift was there and being marked often. Jody and Rick found the up stuff to get maxes – as did Gordy Stahl, myself and Kris Van Nostran. This particular round I tried to reach some eagles too far south and downwind and after failing that I made a great save circling over the pond at around tree height for a few minutes to finally work out and downwind for a max to remember. The callup for round 4 was Gordy, Jody, myself, and Kris. We were sent on our way by CD Rick and for the first time today Jody and I were flying at the same time so we could not call for each other. I saw Jody “turn and burn” and my caller John Kennedy kept me informed of his progress downwind while I headed upwind to the treeline. Jody did not find what he sought and was soon back to the field low while I found my bump and got my 8 minute ride. Dan Johns found good air too and the unstoppable Rick Eckel was the only other max for the round. 4th best and joining us in the honors was Kris Van Nostran who remains focused on his LSF program and improves every contest.
After a great Rusty Carver lunch was enjoyed by all Rick hunted us out for round 5. The honors group launched into a cold sink cycle and with only 4 minutes on the clock I was downwind and low wehn I tried a wrap. Losing about 100 feet and blowing further way I suddenly realised I was going behind trees. Though I got sight of her again briefly I was unable to avoid the big pine trees and the Xplorer found a roost high above a house about 150 yards off field. Kris Van Nostran made the most of this patch of down air with a 4:54 – 76 and not a soul made the time until last flight put up by Ray Alonzo as he found lift and specked out for the only max of the round. Mike Naylor the leading Sportsman pilot scored a 4:33 – 89 to join Dan Johns and Ray and Kris to start off round 6.
This round proved to be the easiest of the day with great flocks of markers in two areas of the sky checking out and 6 pilots got their time. Rick Eckel won the round with a 8:00 – 94 and Gordy Stahl flew his Perfect into a 8:01 – 89. I was 3rd in the round flying my sons old Icon as my Xplorer was going to be treed for a while. The lift directly overhead right off the launch was just amazing as I found the Icon getting very small in just a couple of minutes from launch. Ray Alonzo was the 4th honors pilot with consecutive maxes flying his old Escape.
The last round was called by Rick just as out tree climber arrived to retrieve my Xplorer and also Larry Squires Shadow which was perched high in an Oak tree beside the fence. Once again the air was fabulous as six of us got maxes in strong and sometimes very turbulent air that was still moving downwind quickly. Rick Eckel was not to be denied a victory as he once again found the good stuff and secured what was a runaway win. I found myself still in 2nd place at the finish in spite of my zero off field. Dan Johns took 3rd place. Mike Naylor was the top sportsman with some great flying and Steve Formanek came in 2nd sportsman.
It really was a great days soaring with very interesting and sometimes challenging conditions but as Rick showed us there was lift a plenty if you worked at it. Those that didn’t make it missed out on a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to tomorrow with a warmer day forecast. CU all there.