Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Chelan 101

Story by James Thompson

A local win by our newest visitor from Down Under.

I’m standing on the Butte in 90 degrees at 10:45am, and a shout of “Dusty” goes up; the hangies run to their gliders to hold them down. Across the Gorge I see 13 “Dusties” over on the flatlands. Welcome to the Chelan XC Classic.

Chelan Buttle launch
Chelan Butte launch.

You are given a list of Turn Points and you make your own Task for the day. Straight line 10 points per mile, out and return by a TP 13 points, and a triangle gets you 15 points per mile. Also a bonus of 100 points for landing at any of the LZ’s.

Early dusties over on the flatlands
Early dusties over on the flatlands.

I got my act together on the last day; Conrad and I had landed at “Simms” at 40 miles the day before, with Banks Lake in front of us. It was a 20 mile crossing to the next road, so we tried to head back to Chelan but becked it soon after.

Mansfield and Simms 20 miles on
Mansfield and Simms 20 miles on.
Simms and Banks Lake behind
Simms and Banks Lake behind.

On the last day I was still only just in first place, and Dave a local pilot only had to get 10 miles on me to top me. Kyndel, a non competing pilot, headed out early ready for a big day and distance. I topped out on the home thermal and went on glide with the other paragliders across the Columbia Gorge at 1900m, only just enough and worked the rim to scrape up from 50m agl; Conrad had hit below the rim and ended up landing. I’d crossed with Dave, so I sat on him to “Simms” always higher, just back and upwind. At “Simms” TP he was 2.5 miles downwind of the TP and I was high, so I went for the TP ready to be on him as he had a longer glide upwind to the TP. I turned and had lost sight of Dave, I took the TP, hit a big “Dusty” thermal and skied out (2300m) then turned downwind to try to locate were Dave went; no luck. I was running along the dam/lake now down to Cooli City. I had lost Dave, but Conrad came on the radio to say he was in the van and on retrieve. I hit two big thermals close together (marked by sail planes), which put me well over the lake; there was another wind change in this area so I turned to the east, cross-tailwind and headed along US Highway 2. I had a dream run with speed in the mid 60kms/h with thermals every 10kms to 15kms; I only sweated a thermal twice in the next 80kms.

Turn at Simms and down the lake
Turn at Simms and down the lake.
Cursing at height
Cursing at height.

At the 100kms mark I could see a large city coming up (Spokane) and airspace at Fairchild AF Base. At 120kms I started to work crosswind to go around the airspace to the north but the day was getting late and the thermals weakening. On my last glide I crossed the 160kms from launch; to say I was impressed is an understatement. I landed at 162kms with Conrad and Kyndel, who had landed back 50kms, to pick me up.

Dave, it turned out, had gone downwind to Kyndel and had glided across the lake very near Simms, but had becked it at 80kms.

With this 1010 point day I won the Paragliders class of the Chelan XC Classic.

See my flight on the LEONARDO Paragliding Forum.

Newcastle Hang Gliding Club

Hunter Skysailors Paragliding Club

Hang Gliding Federation of Australia