Sunday, 20 January 2013

Super Final 2012 - Day Four - Task Three

The third task was 100km of rock n Roll all over the valley.  Launch became nightmarish with the entire field running off in zero wind or a little bit from the back.  There were dozens of abortive launch attempts, some of which seemed quite dramatic but without serious harm.  At least a third of pilots were still on launch with ten minutes to go before the start which reportedly had Nicci considering cancellation before the wind fortuitously switched sufficiently to get everyone off, albeit a tad late.  I managed to get off in time with a huge gallop down the slope with my glider barely flying but my compatriots were not so lucky and all were subsequently punished unable to catch up their ten minute handicap and then getting to goal late.  

 Comments from the boys:
Cl Moeg:The super final is like magic. I never imagined the flying would be this fast.
st Kristoffel: the standard here is MUCH higher than I expected even after flying a few world cup events
Big Red: The elastic band snapped before the start. Ja/Nee
The highlight of the day has to be the ‘fire’ thermal.  We had taken the turnpoint in the west and proceeded to cross the valley where a huge sugar cane fire was raging about 500m into the next turmpoint.  The flames were visible from 500m AGL and about seven pilots elected to fly deeper into the turn cylinder in order to take advantage of the fire which was capped by a lovely growing cumulus cloud.  Having heard stories of potent climbs in fires the week before and given the fact that I have climbed in fire thermals many times in my life I went for it.  What I saw as I got nearer was spectacular!  The entire thermal was marked by millions of tiny pieces of ash and charred debris presenting a full three dimensional animated view of the raging beast that had been created.  The outer ring was about a hundred meters wide rising in a relatively orderly fashion with the inner core a torrent of swirling mayhem like a tornado of angry bees.  I saw at least two Ice Peaks in that maelstrom completely out of control with bucking gliders definitely not flying but being torn aloft as one might see a paper bag in a dust devil.

I elected to thermal in the outer ring and buried the brake as in a spiral dive and heard my variometer go from two meters per second to the solid tone that marks off the scale on a Brauniger within two turns.  Holding on for all I was worth I was at cloud base in less than ten turns and then tried to exit the thermal.  I saw the collapse coming in the way I remember being caught inside a six foot beach break about to dump on my head surfing Blouberg back home.  The only difference was that I could not duck dive this wave and watched with helpless fascination as the swirling mass of air fell onto my glider.  I managed a quick recovery flying backwards with a twist.  Yassen was not so lucky fighting for survival in the core and having to deploy his reserve after getting hoisted into the cloud and suffering a catastrophic collapse.  Mickey reported 15 m/s and Chrigel apparently saw 20 m/s peak.  My vario recorded 11.2 m/s on the ten second average and 12.9 instant.  For those of you unfamiliar with paragliding climb rates, 12.9 m/s = 46 km/h.  Imagine going straight up in one place @ 46 km/h with nothing more than a 26 square meter nylon bag and string above your head.

PS: Pictures wont upload for some reason.. will try fix that tonight.


Brett Zaenglein said...

Oh Oliver!!! Enjoying your blog Andre. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Any chance to see the pictures?
BTW, great blog, thanks for posting.

Keith said...

Fascinating reading Orbi...(he who orbits)