Santa Cruz Flats 5.0 Day 7 – Hard to come down…

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SCF 5.0 Day 7

Present: It’s hard to come back down… I’m at work, attending to voice and e-mails, looking out on a crispy Colorado mountain morning. Aspens changing, 47 degrees. My present reality completely contrasts the experiences I had over the past 9 days. It’s comfortable to be back home, but Santa Cruz daydreams linger…

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Sky early morning on the last day. Photo by Jamie Sheldon.

Day 7 – Couldn’t run early – I was sore top to bottom. Flying muscles, running muscles, blisters on my feet from the harness cram. Leisurely breakfast and normal preparation for the day. There were mid-level clouds encroaching.

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Landing after the 30+ mile glide from 15,000ft. Photos by Jamie Sheldon

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A 91km out and return task was called taking us away from the cloud development. Launch times were pushed back to let the day heat up a bit extra. As we moved our gear out to the paddock, strange looking mini-cells were dropping virga and subsequent mini-micro burst, downdraft cylinders. They were all over.

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Weekend surprise from my biggest supporter. Photo by Jamie Sheldon.

Johnathan Dietch towed up just as the first mild front was arriving. He climbed up, then got tossed around to the ground. Johnny came down with the tug saying it was ROUGH.

Dustin took a quick tour in the tug with the same consensus. Little cells all around creating downdraft cylinders and unpredictability. We all waited for things to stabilize.

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Sunscreen caked and exhausted from 5 hours and 15,000ft.

Two or three walls of dust hit us. We kept an eye on our gliders so they wouldn’t blow away.

The cells kept cropping up, and we were loosing time. Things did clear a bit, but it soon became apparent we wouldn’t have enough time in the afternoon to launch everyone and get a task in. The day was called, a gatorade cooler of ice water hit me from behind, I’d won the comp.

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Post icy Gatorade cooler baptism.

Some pilots free flew, some had an hour or more of good soaring while the rest of us washed out gliders and packed up our gear. There was maybe a two to three hour window of soar-ability.

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Washing the dust off… Photo by Jamie Sheldon.

People took in the evening socializing around the pool with drinks. It was nice to have a bit of time to get to know some better. We’d had such a busy week, there wasn’t much time for socializing.

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Packing up…

I motivated for a sunset run aided by a margarita buzz. Sheets of virga to the north turned to fire as the sun hit the horizon for an inspiring scene. No one was around as a couple of screamed salutations to the gods left my mouth.

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Running to tie the plane down… Photo by Jamie Sheldon.

The awards dinner came next. The Cloudbase Foundation donated $6500 to two children’s charities in the Casa Grande area. Really cool.

I found myself up in front of the crowd with exceptional company. Any one of half a dozen or more pilots could have won the meet. Santa Cruz has always been a great time. It provides a comp. environment unlike any other. We all stay @ the resort in communal fashion, we park our gliders outside in the grass, we tow out of the paddock next door. We have out and return tasks in excellent desert conditions most days. It’s a special event not to be missed. HUGE thanks to the organizers and tow crew.

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Three, two, one… Mitch, Dustin, me.

I failed to publicly thank Belinda Boulter, my exceptional driver. I’m comforted knowing no matter what situation I get myself into, she intuitively knows right where I am. She provides incredible support. Thanks!

WW has a proven winner in the T2C. The first day of the comp was my first flight on the glider. Out of the box, it’s completely race ready. I took out the VG limiter and lowered all sprogs ONE turn from factory settings and could keep up with anyone in the field. The glider flew exceptionally from the first flight with no discernible turns. It’s feather light and intuitive to position on 5 hour flights or thermalling in a pack. SCflats (12)

Forrest Gump road…

The party carried on, and we packed for home. Got up and departed @ 3:30am the next morning with Alex and his wife Jo. Caught an old moon hanging in the east before a morning through Monument Valley. Pleasurable ride through the desert with great company. Dropped Alex and Jo in Grand Junction and curved through Glenwood Canyon on the home stretch. Was greeted with hugs and kisses from the family, kudos from the neighbors, and an indian summer evening as I unpacked the truck. Passed out @ 8pm. Head still in the clouds this morning.