Santa Cruz 5.0 – The Grid to the Organic…

posted in: Jeff O'Brien | 0

SCF 5.0 Day 1

A 70 mile triangle is called. Winds are supposed to be light, and we’re supposed to get to 9000ft. maybe higher near the mountains. (ground is 1300ft. here)

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The view on our balcony.

Launch opens at noon and it’s HOT as I carry my glider to the flight line. Soaked after the 5 minute hike. There are 5 start times starting at 1:15pm. A tug is down and they’re concerned about getting everyone off the ground quickly.

I’m third in the air and after I pin off, I take a big sigh. AHHH… It feels like home up here. It’s my first flight on the psychedelic sky queen and I need to take her for a circular stroll before we get to it. She’s delicious to hold.

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I’m by myself and I spend 35 minutes sightseeing as I climb almost a mile and a half above the ground. I’ve got plenty of time before the start, and it’s nice and cool so I float around.

I begin to stage for the second or third start, and the audio on my vario quits. I fiddle with it, then turn it off and on, and nothing. Just the wind. My head space turns instantly bad. How am I supposed to discern any nuance or variation of lift? I never look at my instant reading and I’ve got 20 seconds on the averager. I decide I’m going to have to look at the vario and other pilots A LOT to gauge my performance. SCorganic (3)

Proper digs…

I take the third start and fly with a total lack of confidence. I follow people around, not wanting to get out on my own and land because I can’t discern the light lift we’re in. Conditions are soft anyway, so being social isn’t a detriment.

As we near the first turnpoint, I’m getting the hang of watching my instrument and trying to feel the sky. A good gaggle is forming and we’re moving along. Everyone is a bit wary as it’s been light the entire first leg.

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The resort from a mile up… Can you spot the launch paddock?

On the 20km to the second turnpoint, when many turn for a climb in the valley, I press on toward the mountains. Suddenly I’m alone and I’m not finding anything. I think I’ve just made the mistake of the day. I eventually catch up with Davis who’s been out front all day with Glen as we get low by the second turn.

I drift into the hills, 100ft. off the mountainside peppered with Saguaro cactus. It’s bleak. Dustin comes in above me. I work breaths and bubbles of hot air as they pop off the rocks. Nothing coherent for a while, then the wicking comes together and gets better as we ascend. It takes us a long time, but Davis and I get to 8400ft. over the peaks with Mitch Shipley. Dustin just missed the bubble we found and is still plastered to the hillside.

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Closeup of launch paddock.

It’s slow going and we see a lot of others groveling after the second turn. We stop for 100fpm a couple of times. Winds aloft are very light, but our numbers are getting better with patience. I’m getting used to watching the vario, but I still feel I’m not flying as sensitively as I could.

Davis and MItch are a great help as we spread out to find the best lift. I shade toward the black mountains 10 miles from goal and we find 300fpm to get us within 12 to 1 to goal.

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The grid to the organic… Looking SW from the resort… Not far from Mexico.

Numbers get better and it’s a nice glide in. Davis arrives less than a minute behind.

James Stinnett got a ripper by the second turnpoint that put him out in front to goal. I was second followed by Davis, Shipley, Dustin, and Robin Hamilton. Seven total would make it in.

Great day in the sky.

Airtime: 4:45. Flights: 1. Miles: 70.