Last night I took another stab at the Sion 194 task in the Swiss Alps. I made my first attempt on Tuesday evening. This task looks like a ridge soaring race but with only a 5.5 knot wind, you need to rely on the excellent thermals. I sort of realized that on Tuesday and got over 10,000 in a thermal early on the first leg, but with TP1 at a nominal 12,500, you really need to plug away at gaining altitude for the entire leg. I failed that on my first attempt and was too low to get under any of the clouds which were all hovering above ridges. I got pretty frustrated and eventually crashed into a ridge while trying to eke out some lift while flying much too close for safety. I shouldn’t get in the habit of doing this even though it is a simulation.
Before starting last night, I studied the maps very carefully and came up with a strategy. I pretty much stuck with that strategy and ended up in third place for now.
Not long after I finished I saw that Puddie was on course and coming down the final stretch. After he finished I called him. He said that I had a pretty rough time of it, but his time really wasn’t that bad, especially for a first attempt.
A brief synopsis of my flight with three ghosts from day 7 of the Sky Battle Cup 2010
Here is a brief synopsis of my Condor flight with the ghosts of the top three finishers on Day 7 of the Sky Battle Cup 2010.
At first I flew west of the start line much as we had done during the actual race. After gaining about 11,000 or 12,000 feet I flew south across the valley and explored the valley heading west that you had explored that day. Like you, I flew up as far as I could and then back tracked. As I was re-gaining altitude near the entrance of that valley on the southeast facing slope (remember the wind was from about 200 degrees), suddenly MOW popped into view way above me on the other side of the dead end valley. I tried to gain enough altitude to join him but suddenly he disappeared out of range again.
At this point I flew back to the start area and from there, ventured south where there is a strong ridge facing the wind. I discovered excellent lift there and worked it quickly to good altitude.
Then suddenly MOW reappeared working the same ridge! By this time, well over an hour of the 90 minute start window had passed. I stayed with him, at times a little ahead, sometimes a little behind. Finally I followed him to the start and thought that this would be his official start, but he remain above the max start altitude of 9,100 feet and we both returned to the ridge again. We both re-gained some altitude and finally returned for the real start with only a few minutes to spare before the start window deadline. He plunged at high speed for the southern corner of the line, did a high speed 180 and was off back to the same ridge. I followed him pretty well but after I crossed the line I let myself lose too much altitude. I caught back up with him on the ridge but I was always a few hundred feet below him and then suddenly he disappeared!
In the mean time, I had passed NX (# 2 in day 7) heading for the start a minute after leaving same. In no time he was up on the ridge with us, so when MOW disappeared, I stayed with NX. After we had gained considerable altitude we headed West. I was alwyas a few hundred feet below him and just barely squeaked over a couple of ridges. Finally, about five or ten minutes south of TP1, he headed up a narrow gully. I tried to follow him but didn’t have enough altitude and had to turn back and gain some of same. After making several attempts to get over the terrain, it was getting late so I gave up. I want to try again tonight! And by the way, we crossed the start only a few minutes before the 90 minute start window! NG must have been within about 30 seconds of making in time!