Cross to Bear

Since I’ll be turning 50 this year, at orienteering meets I can now move from a category that runs on the second-longest course to one on the third-longest course. Not willing to face my looming geriatric state, for the first national-level meet this year, I signed up for the elite category on the longest course. However, I’m not a complete masochist, and registered only for the middle distance race on Saturday morning and the long-distance race on Sunday, but not the Saturday afternoon sprint. That gave me the afternoon free, and since the meet was at West Point, it was a short jaunt over to Ellenville. A day or two in advance the forecast looked quite favorable, so I brought a wing with me.

There was a work party in the morning to do some repairs on the road to launch, and a SNYHGPA meeting in the evening, so a lot of people showed up (I think there we at least 20 cars up there), even though the conditions were not panning out as we had hoped. Gusty winds in the morning gave way to light winds by the time I arrived, and instead of NW, it was blowing almost NE, parallel to the ridge. However, Paul V was there, and he said that my new hang straps had just arrived, so he scooted home to fetch them so that he wouldn’t need to mail them, while I set up.

I wasn’t the only one who had enough optimism to stuff some battens. Here’s Mike A (aka $!><) finally getting a chance to do a hang check with his spiffy brand new cocoon harness (unfortunately, a hang check was all he got).

The new windsock looked great. As you can see in this pic, it was pointing a bit sideways. Looks like there was plenty of velocity, though, right? Not. That picture was taken when the wind was dead calm. The fabric is still so crispy that it won’t sag at all, and it’s more of a weathervane until the UV softens it up a bit. (“If you experience a steady breeze that lasts more than four hours, consult your meteorologist.”)

I ran into a whole bunch of pilots who I knew, and met a few new ones. Plenty of time for chatting when nobody is flying. Among those who I had met before were CT John B and Kermit (who showed up to work on the road despite having busted his arm recently).

One brave soul finally decided that he had had enough. Dave C hooked in, dragged his Eagle to the North launch, and waited for a marginally launchable cycle. I was ready with the rapid-fire sports mode on my camera.

We all cheered as Dave hit pockets of lift… and winced as he hit sink… and cheered as he hit more lift… and winced… well, he took his sledder like a man. After more waiting, J.J. stepped up with his Atos, and I decided that my decision would be based on what he did. If he climbed, I’d launch, but if he sank out, I’d pack up. After waiting around for a while, he backed off, and I started pulling battens. About the time I put the glider back on the car, Paul V was ready to try. I had tentative plans to meet some orienteering friends for dinner, so I decided I’d stay and watch until 5:15, and then I’d give up — which is what happened. I found out later that he eventually abandoned hope and everybody broke down. The wind was just too cross to bear us aloft. Ah well, the season is still young.


About cleversky

Hang glider pilot in New England since 2004. Also an avid orienteer, and an embedded systems firmware engineer. And some other outdoor stuff.
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