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Aug 12

Written by: Jeff Shapiro
8/12/2010 12:41 PM 

Launching on the last flight of the trip

What an amazing trip. Flying at a comp like the Pre Worlds is a much different animal than most other comps we get to attend each season. The number and overall skill level of the competing pilots are both extremely high.

hooking up with Zippy for an expression session

The flying from Monte Cucco proved to be a venue for some of the best racing I have ever done. The lift and terrain are perfectly suited for technical tasks with a bit of everything from flying peaks, to crossing valleys and working lift in the flats, to "full on" ridge racing in the compression. It's a place where many different skill sets contribute to scoring well on any given task.

Cucco is like a big South Side

Day one saw us running a bit of a basket weave. The last leg involved dodging airspace while jumping across the valley in front of Monte Cucco to the ancient town of Gubbio. I had a good run with Jeff and Zippy, flying together almost the entire day, and made goal with a time I was reasonably satisfied with. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware of an Entry cylinder rule that ended up costing me an entire start interval of 20 minutes. I was bummed to lose this time to my actual course time and to be scored a lot lower on the list than I should have been but thankful for the lesson that will be hard to forget.

setting up to top land for lunch

Day two was another great task that had the shape of a "sort of" out and return. The last way point was high on a peak, fairly deep in a canyon that was lean on the landing options to say the least. Again, I flew with Jeff and Zippy all day, taking turns leading out. As we flew toward the last way point, I was around 300' lower than the boys and didn't feel like I could make it out of the canyon if I didn't find lift. I fell out of the sky in the rotor on my way to the front of the range before finding a climb from low that got me high enough to get the t-point and glide to goal. It cost me time but I was OK with my decision. It was a good example of how it would have been a huge help to have known the area well enough to have held on the the climb a little longer before gliding toward that last way point. Of course, that's what the Pre-Worlds is all about.

hooking up with Dustin and others for a run to the wind mills

The third day was one of those days for me. A true character builder. When my entire team was blazing off on course during the first start, I was counting blades of grass below launch. Encouragement from OB helped keep me off the ground as I climbed back out while drifting further and further out of the start cylinder. Gliding back to the start, I lost almost all I had gained and after another long climb, I took the 2nd start about a minute late. Feeling good about not landing was short lived.

When I flew toward the first turn point, my GPS went blank. My back up shows the direction of the point but not the cylinder size so although I had a good idea of where it was, I didn't know where the edges of the cylinder were. Memories of hearing about pilots following others around a course and doing well gave me hope so when the group I was with left on glide, I followed. About 10 k's later, my GPS re-acquired and pointed backward. My heart sank realizing I was screwed.

The wind was way too strong to get back. Demoralized, I hoped and pushed the "next way point" button on the 6030, pointing it down range. Another 5 k's and it went blank again. I flew frustrated down the range until it came back, this time pointing almost 90 degrees to my left, out in the valley. After confirming with Davis that the t-point was indeed in the valley, I tagged it and turned back toward the next. I ended up fighting hard, thermalling backward in strong wind until landing with 14 other pilots in a nice LZ. It was an easy retrieve as Jeff, Davis and Dustin were all within 8-15 k's and we were all stoked to hear that Zippy had won the day! My stoke was short lived though as my fears were confirmed after downloading my backup at headquarters and learning that I was around 100meters out of the first t-point and would be scored almost all of the way back to the beginning of the course. Bummer.

starting to get high

The last day was one of the race days that are hard to forget. We were all worried about over development, even getting rained on 3/4 of the way through the course but it was one of the best race days of the comp. I hooked up with Dustin for a few climbs before he got the jump on the entire field. Even though he landed going for the cheese, it was impressive that at the latter half of the course, he was miles ahead of everyone. It was inspiring to see him going for it.

setting up to land at the main LZ for Monte Cucco

I was racing toward the last t-point with the lead gaggle of about 10 guys when I saw the 4 front runners gliding the other way, just in front of us toward goal. In the lead was the familiar KAVU sticker and I knew that OB had it and would win the day. I was so stoked for him and even laughed out loud knowing that my bro was finishing the comp with class.

Altogether, the comp was another amazing learning experience. Just thinking about each day spent in Segillo makes me excited to go back next year. We will be better prepared, more experienced and a more cohesive team while trying to represent the US and Wills Wing in the best way we can. Personally, I can't wait.


21 comment(s) so far...

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By Steve Prater on   8/13/2010 12:23 PM

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Tough to mentally overcome unlucky setbacks like that. Nice job on an amzing trip nevertheless.

Keep it up!

B-) 3D

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