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PWC Castelo Brazil Results
Eagle Team Pilots Dean Stratton and Marty Devietti are in Castelo Brazil for the last PWC event of 2008. Dean is currently ranked 6th, and Marty is ranked 5th on USHPA’s NTSS rankings. Both are hoping for a good finish in order to earn a spot on the World team. Team USA will be competing in Valle De Bravo Mexico this January and February at the 2009 Paragliding Worlds. Here is a list of how the top six pilots sit right now, all of whom fly for the Eagle Paragliding Team. Dean and Marty are keeping me updated. We will post results as soon as they become available.
Task 1 - 49 km
Today was the first scheduled day of competition and we got a task in. It´s been raining every night since we got here, sometimes pouring, but believe it or not we flew today. Both on the practice day and today the conditions were very weak. and there were many areas of total cloud cover, and mysteriously it still worked. The task today was 49km, set to. start at 1:40 and the majority of the course was. crosswind with a short upwind leg to goal. The prevailing wind comes in from the sea out. of the SE and it always plays a factor here. Right at the start. of the race the. prevailing winds were already playing havoc with us and cloudbase was really low as. well. The thermals were windswept and light, but the. views more than made up for it. Unfortunately I had a senior moment and made a move that put. me on the deck so early it blew my mind. I landed next to a large herd of cows that will. probably never forget the words that were coming out of my. mouth once I touched down. This will really cost me but I have a cure already lined up for my. blues - ICE CREAM! Marty, on the other hand, made much. better decisions and I´ll let. him fill in the blanks from here.
Unortunately, I saw Deano land and was trying to move fast but. play it very safe with my altitude. The practice day. taught me that going alone low. in these conditions is costly. Just after connecting with lift just past Dean, I was in a. fairly strong climb that just got better and better and would. take me to base. I. heard a noise, then a really loud Crack! Apparently the noise was a mid-air and the. loud crack was from a pilot who was falling with no glider. (either he cut it away or it. separated from him in the accident) and his reserve. opened so fast and loud I feared it would fail. Both pilots landed safely, the one. pilot with only his reserve and no glider, the second under reserve with two wings as his. glider tore in half, right down the middle. After the. excitement the sky closed up and shade covered the course ahead. Fortunately there were. many of us near cloud base and the glide took us into the shade with precious altitude. towards the final turnpoint and goal. The sun came out to our. right wich produced a climb. that was downwind of the courseline. Some got high enough, soon enough and pressed. upwind to escape the large stone monoliths that created venturies and rotor in. the shade ahead. Others (myself included) couldn´t get up-wind of the rising terrain. and just behind a huge rock/mountain. I yo-yo´d up in thermals drifting behind the. giant rock and lost ground with meager climbs. Eventually I saw someone cross the valley and. ridge soar the mother of all sheer rock faces, and I got a. piece of it just in time to take us all back to cloud, easily making the crossing out. of the venturi. In the end, the task was stopped due to rain and strong winds, wich I. had a birds eye view of, now I wished I was lower because it. took seemingly forever to navigate the turbulent wind and rotor to the valley in front of. the big terrain. We all landed safe, packed quickly and got into a bus...well, some. were slow or late and got soaked, but all were in good spirits. I was short of the. last turn point by 15 km or so. Most landed near me though a few made it to goal or just. short of it. Amazing!
Today we woke to low clouds and. it looked like a possible day off. We got to launch and it was very shaded with low. clouds everywhere. Surprisingly there was lift and pilots not in the comp slowly. climbed to the ever-raising cloudbase. A similar task was called and the race was on. Getting launched proved to be the first difficulty as the light and sometimes cross and. even over the back winds made many hang out for what seemed like 10 to 15 minutes, only to. blow the launch and further clog things up. I launched. finally with 8 minutes before. the start and hoped to get up. as high as the pilots already established out front. I was climbing still when the armada left, but I watched as they. circled in light lift after a few km of gliding. I was able to get within a few hundred. feet of base, and caught up to them on my first glide. Whew!
I was torn as to where to go next. The gaggle went right to the terrain, but that put us. downwind of the course line, and it would cause problems later in the flight I knew, but that is where the only meager. lift was, so off I went.
Dean was low but got up and we. flew a few circles together at one point where things got very shaded, low and we were left to. ridge soar the hills around Castello. Most made it. further, but not much further. and I landed with the bulk of them while Dean pushed out and took a better line after. fisihing around for a climb that I figured wouldn´t happen. He was low and ridge soaring. maybe a 1/4 to half mile further than my group.
A few pilots made it I am told with a few on there way some time after I landed. I have learned to really believe and never give up with the range of flying we have been exposed to. It is really a treat, even on days that most would consider not good for flying cross country.
Dean is still not back as I type this, some 2 hours after landing. Maybe he got into some sun and back up to cloud base and is riding back from goal?
I will watch for him, and make sure he gets found. Expect a post from him later.
Bom voo! (Good flight!)
Marty has summed up most of the flight, but I can add a few things. Yes, the conditions were light, much lighter than yesterday in fact. Ridge soaring was a major factor today and survival mode was the order of the day. There were some climbs out front but they far and few between. Most of the lift was off the front points and very windswept, which required a lot of whip turns to get back into the windward side of the thermal. If you were slow to turn back into the thermal you´d most likely get an ass-whoopin and find yourself in the lee. We all crawled along the course line, praying for boomers that never came. The course line was littered with gliders in precarious places on the ground, some in obvious rotor zones. I don´t believe anyone made goal today either but I did hear that there was a group that made it quite a bit further than us. It was definitely difficult today so I am very impressed by those that made it as far as they did today - very nice work.
Toinight is BBQ night so Marty and I have our feed bags strapped on. Marty says he´s not scared - we´ll see ;) Okay, that´s it, more tomorrow. Frank Brown told me tonight that he expects better conditions tomorrow, but that´s what we wé´re told for today. Let´s hope Frank is right because these weak conditions definitely have me out of my element - good lessons though...
Don´t be a fool - stay in school ;)
Well, I decided since I had such poor results the last couple of days I had nothing to lose, so why not just send it and see what happens. Things were going great until I made the same mistake as many others just before the first turnpoint where it was very windy; so I hit the deck. I don´t know what to say - this whole event feels like the movie Groundhog Day and all I can do is throw my hands up. I´ve run out of expletives over the last couple days, so all I can do now is shake my head and kick nearby cows. So now, I´ve decided to just relax for the remainder of the event and enjoy the views. Who knows, maybe my results will improve with a different, carefree attitude. My results may not be what I´d like, but outside of that I´m having a great time. The photo-ops are everywhere, I´m taking plenty of photos and I should have a great album put together for this trip.
As some of you already know Brazil is one of the biggest producers of granite and marble in the world. Today the task took us over several mines and I got some shots of those as well. Marty has summarized the day pretty well so I make an attempt at getting some flying shots to Rob for him to hopefully post. I´ll just include some teasers for now. Maybe I´ll get some more out later.
That´s it for now - more coming soon
Who would of thought we’d have 4 tasks in 4 days, however, the conditions seemed to be the worst yet; high pressure combined with a strong breeze coming in from the SE. The task today was 18 km SSE to turnpoint 1, and then 30 km West to goal. Launch was the highest terrain along the course line and it becomes increasingly lower the further along the course you get. The first 6 or 7 km were easy since you could run along the high relief which was above the marine layer. The key was to get as stinkin´high as you could before the left the high ground for your glide out over the valley. The first leg of the course had us flying over all the granite mines again and I’m still in awe of the amount of stone pulled from this area. Everywhere you look there’s either a mine, a miner, trucks loaded with granite, or wherehouses full of it. As the terrain drops off it’s inevitable that you descend into the marine air where it was a game of survival and scratch and sniff. So, once again the task turned into ridge soaring - oh boy, my favorite! Most pilots decked it after the first turnpoint but as Marty mentioned I believe there were a few in goal - I’m amazed at the tenacity of some of these pilots.
As far as my results goes, my decline continues and it’s just becoming laughable ;) No worries though, I’ve over it and I’m having more fun taking pictures on this trip than anything else. I’m putting together a great album for Brazil - stay tuned. Well, that’s it. Tomorrow looks to be flyable again so says Frank Brown. I’ll try sending a few more photos from today.
It was hot, and blowing in on launch, but few of the wind dummies were getting up. I got off early as soon as I saw some people breaking through the inversion at launch level. I caught a boomer that took me 1400 feet over and that was as high as we got for start, more or less. The wind was strong out of the North aloft 1000 feet and up, but the Valley flow behind launch was due south as it dammed up against the terrain behind us. After getting my bearings in order, I was relieved that the task committee changed the task at the last minute that allowed us to climb out get high and then run with the North tail wind to a turn point 22km or so down wind then crosswind to the goal that was used the first two days on a crosswind leg. The tail wind ended as we descended into the marine air that was blowing south from the coast. As I neared the turn point the climbs were meager, drifting and demanding of ones patience and endurance. I managed to squeak into the turn point low, run back to the terrain down wind of it and surf the warm valley flow and ridge soar up a little, and then with the help of 3 Urubus (vultures) I got back into the game and got above the ridge again, only to skip to two more ridges, ridge soar and thermal with 10 other pilots for 40 minutes, on the last one, then at our highest point, we all went on glide, mostly landing at or very near the same spot.
All in all, I think 7 pilots reached goal, and I am pleased with my flight though I REALLY wanted to get to goal today...like always. Tomorrow then.
Day 5 - Task 5
This morning we woke up to cloud cover and a forecast of impending rain. Soon after we arrived at launch, the cloud cover started to thicken and it wasn´t long before launch was engulfed in the white room. Everyone that had opened their gliders, including me, scrambled to get them back into their bags before they got rained. It reminded me a lot of Santa Barbara and I figured we were toast for today. At best I thought we might get a task in really late, but not likely. 30-45 minutes later the cloud deck started to rise and holes began to open up letting the sun through. The task was set and it was somewhat of a lap race from launch to Castelo and back twice, totalling close to 45 km.
As usual the best lift was found along the cliffs near launch and it lightened up from that point on. Once again patience was key, but unlike yesterday it was very bouyant. Despite the conditions being light we moved along the course fairly quickly. As we began the second lap conditions got even lighter and the sky was completely clouded over, and getting worse by the minute. Having the prevailing SE winds really helps on these light days, you can use it to surf up many of the cliffs that line the course, and that was key today if you wanted to move fast. After the second lap all that was left was to surf up the cliff near launch, check the final glde numbers, and boogie on down to goal. It was about a 4 or 5 km final glide and the air seemd very bouyant. Unlike the last few tasks, there were plenty of pilots in goal today painted with perma-grins.
My results: Much better. In fact, I smoked the course despite the weak conditions. Finally, I was making good decisions and flying the way I know I can. My time to goal was pretty fast, however, I missed the actual goal line ;( I found out that missing the goal line costs you all your speed points - boo hoo. It will probably be less thatn half of the winners score for the day. Consolation; I had much more fun today, and I got more photos too;)
Despite the ominous and dark conditions early, I kept my game face on and prepared to race. Finally the sun was out and I got off launch right when I wanted, and got up easily to get a good start. It was a timed run with 5 minute intervals. I took the second start hoping to catch up to some of the first start pilots.
Not wanting to fall through the cracks, I spent a bit of time tanking up along the course, to the point where I began to lose some ground. I felt like I wasn´t climbing as efficiently so it seemed like I was falling out the bottom sometimes. Then I did something I try not to do, (chase the gaggle) after falling throught the bottom of broken and wind swept thermal, and went on glide anyway rather than wait to tank up and THEN go. Fortunately, I saw people ahead climbing in light lift and got back into the game. It was worth the risk. I waited until I could not get any higher then left, noticing that the gaggles ahead were also climbing. From then on I was arriving at gaggle height and making up some ground. Nobody was sinking out at this point, so my patience was costing me time. The pilots who went without topping out the climbs still managed to stay up and keep moving. I found myself losing some ground on the way to the last turn point, but I took my sweet time to top it out when there until I had an 8:1 glide into a buoyant head wind. My altitude paid off as I sped into goal with the trimmers open and 2/3 bar on, passing a few pilots who were resting on the glide.
Today is my first PWC goal, and though not as fast as Deano, apparently I will get to keep my speed points for crossing the line :-P
Wahoooo! I have never seen so much shaded thermaling and ridge soaring for such a long a distance. Apparently we don´t need the sun as much as we think! Oh yeah, I can´t get my mac email, but thanks just the same for the support from all who have sent me a supportive message!
We woke to a brief morning drizzle, then the sky stayed dark and grey, then lighter grey with some blue openings through several layers of clouds. Perfect conditions for another task in Castello it seemed.
The task was set as a 59.7 km with 4 turn points and goal making a roughly square shaped course (minus a leg connecting us back to the start). The day was predicted to be very similar as the day before so it looked ambitious, but doable, especially when the sun came out for us at the pilot meeting and stayed out even after the the launch window opened. It was easy to get up, and to transition to a ridge near the start cylinder, but hard to stay up there. We were all pretty committed to wait it out there as the final minutes ticked. Boy was it busy just above ridge height with everybody struggling not to fall through the weakening air as the final seconds wound down and the sky closed up to grey again above us. We crossed the valley to the first turn point easily and then a few of us got a sweet climb below ridge height coming back, and transitioned back to the launch area to tank up and get over the back to the 2nd turn point which was fairly easy and involved some ridge soaring on the commute.
After turn point two, we had some choices to make, and I chose to stay south and run the flats with a gaggle that was doing well and finding a nice climb to what could have been base, but not much of a cloud when we got there. We traveled cross wind and found ourselves climbing in lighter and lighter thermals, slowly making our way South of Castello to the next turnpoint. At a familiar ridge we began circling in an ever increasing gaggle as people caught up, not seeing anywhere else to go. The highest pilots stayed with it and got a great but very slow climb. The rest of us fell out the bottom and flew across to a now shaded foothill area and only were able to ridge soar until ultimately landing about 30 km into the course, short of the 3rd turn point by about 8km.
Amazingly, as I packed I saw some late comers quite high and flying over our sink zone and taking a deeper line into the higher terrain that we could not reach. It worked for them and as I rode back to town on the bus, I saw a few pilots headed towards goal from the 3rd turn point, and figure that someone will make it, amazingly to goal on such a teaser of a day.
Dean and I flew together much of the flight and landed within 1km of each other. We seem to be improving but making goal was super difficult once again and at this moment I can´t say what I would do differently if I could do the flight again....I tried my best and had a great flight with a safe landing and easy walk to an air conditioned bus in extremely humid weather. Time to download and hit the shower.
Bom voo! (good flight)
Marty has summed up the day well. I´m finally getting adjusted to the conditions out here. It´s still not my style, but I´m adjusting. Marty and I flew well today, we just got stuck in the shade too long like the majority of the field. There were a lucky few that made it over the ridge we were trying to soar, but the sun only shined briefly after that. We´ll see if anyone made goal today. Now that I´m adjusting to the conditions I´d really like to come back for a do-over. These type of conditions have always been my achilles heel. This definitely has been a good experience for me and I believe it has strengthened my pilot skills.
I still can´t believe we are still having tasks, the weather out here makes me laugh. One minute you´re sure there won´t be a task and the next we´re launching. Note to self - Never discount the potential to fly in Castelo. Normally 6 tasks would conclude our event for the week, however, since a few of our tasks were short we will have another task on Saturday assuming the weather works out.
Again we had a very humid day. The only way to avoid having you clothes become soaking wet would be to sit in a hammock in the shade. Even then you might soak your clothes, it´s sticky down here. I washed my shoes yesterday, set them out to dry, and they´re still wet today; almost as wet as they were yesterday. I got plenty of shots today too. In the beginning the weather was a little gloomy, but there are still a few good ones in the bunch.
Marty´s final task in Castello....
Ït is now 6 hours after the window open and I am finally checked in at HQ and able to take a minute and write this. It was so nice to get some altitude and keep pilots around to work the sky. It is truly different flying here, and I am happy to make goal the last day. The top pilots work the area well, fly together efficiently and climb extremely fast. It has been a pleasure to fly with the field of pilots here. Truly a treat for me.
Sunny skies indicated a change for the better, and a 55.2 km task was called more or less down wind to goal! There were many spectators on launch and the shenanigins from local pilots did not disappoint. One pilot treed his glider on the left side of left side of launch just as the window opened. The tree rescue must have been very entertaining for those sitting in the shade nearby. Shortly after that an acro pilot lost control out in front and tossed his reserve, landing safely WELL below launch (in tree as well), much to the amazement of the crowd.
The start was across the valley to the left of launch, and I had a great position through the 2nd turn point that was in front of launch. Still doing well I tanked up with Deano in the climb just past the take off area that would put us over the back and on the long downwind leg of the course. The pace was surprisingly fast even with the weak climbs I suspected ahead. Nonetheless there were people racing to the big thermal spots, and it was surprising how fast I lost ground by climbing and avoiding getting low and stuck along the way.
My flight was never seriously in doubt until the last 15 km to goal and it seemed I wasn´t the only one low and working hard for every foot of altitude. I saw pilots landing here and there, and I vowed not to be one of them. The field spread out and weak climbs were happening but they were very spread out, and patience and paying attention (for better climbs and/or other climbs when yours stopped) was the soup du jour.. I shifted into stay away from the ground mode and watched for the locals (Urubu vultures) to show me the way. Boy I enjoy flying with those guys! I saw Richard and made a few turns with him, each of us voicing to one another our resolve to get back up again to make it to goal. I pressed on and looked for lift where I had seen others climbing on the course line and it worked, but was a touch slower than Richards patient climb that saw him in to goal easily as I came in just behind him. There were many in goal and I was thrilled to pack in the shade of a tree near the road catching the last truck to Castello. My shirt was soaked with only a wind shirt over it on the flight. The heat was amazing on the ground...how nice to be where all the rides are without a hike out!?? Tonight are the awards, then Deano and I jump on the bus to Vitoria early tomorrow morning. We will chill in Vitoria for the day and then we take the flight to Sao Paulo even earlier the next morning, then the long flight back home. I miss the USA, but it was a great trip here.
The humidity has to be as high as the temperature here (90 degrees F or higher I suspect). I can´t wait until I am home in the cool breeze of Ventura with my family and the comforts of home. What a challenging week of flying. I leave here with no regrets. I flew my best and had a great time. Tired does not begin to describe how I feel right now. But relieved and relaxed come close.
Once again, Marty beat me to the keyboard and left me nothing to talk about. Yes, it was a great day today. Definitely a good task, and plenty of pilots in goal. I ran the course pretty fast up until the last 7 km, where I decided to try something a little tricky that would have paid big dividends had it worked, unfortunately it didn´t and it cost me about 20 minutes to get back in the game. No worries, at least I made goal.
Again, another very hot and humid day. It´s taken a few hours for my clothes to even start to dry out, I´m still soaked. That is about all I have to say tonight since time is short. The awards are about to begin and the night will be busy after that. I´ll try to fill in the blanks later when I get back.
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