Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chelan XC Open 2012

Exploring new sites is always fun, and Chelan was no exception. Site located in cental Washington, just 80 miles from Canadian border. It was quite a few pilots from SoCal who attended, inluding Dean, Ty, Marty, Arnie and Aaron. After some debate I end up driving with Aaron, which is about 20 hours from LA. Most of the pilots camped at Beebe Bridge Park Campground ($28 per day).
Beebe Bridge Camping
Its quite convenient place, main LZ located on the other side of river, and just 5 minutes drive from the camp. Here is view from launch:
Chelan PG launch
PG pilots waiting in the queue
Main arena for competition is flatland to the east from launch, but getting there especially with low cloud base was very difficult, in fact I bombed out first 3 days (4 with traning day). When you arrive low on other side of the river there are 2 options: try to ridge soar and catch thermal or push toward power lines low with hope to get something on the way. Another problem was that thermals tend to lean a lot from ridge, if you don't drift enough you lose a thermal, if you drift too much you may not come back to ridge line if you lost thermal. On the third day (second task) I was so upset to land again in canyon that I hiked back and relaunched, but was drifting back to the same canyon, I pushed out toward the river, but could not clear another ridge, so I landed, hiked again, relaunched and plan just to glider to main LZ. Instead I got a nice fat thermal and went straight to clould base, tag Simms waypoint and make 2/3 of way back. I probably can make it all the way, but was concerned that reterive will be gone if I don't make it, time was past 7:00 pm. Here is how river crossing looks like from the start:
Flying over Chelan
Last 3 days I was super careful about river crossing, basically you have to cross with main gaggle and need to start about 5 minutes after them and higher in order to get into the best thermal. This strategy worked great, so 3 last tasks was fun racing. Here is view to the launch.
Chelan launch from the air
Landed on the flats
Overall I came in 39th out of 49 pilots, not what I was expecting, but very good learning for me for sure. Swimming in Chelan lake and jumping from the bridge each day also contribute a lot to positive impression from the place.