Both days were flyable in Saichia. Saturday inverted and very windy up above 1000m amsl, with not much lift. I flew around for 2 hours but couldn’t get away from the hill, just scratched around at 1100m or so until I got cold and bored. We blamed all our problems on some high cloud that took the edge right off the sun. Doug from HK made it to Liukuei though, which was very impressive given the conditions. Jaco made it to Dajin in his HG before bombing which sort of upset me.
Sunday was much better to look at with no cloud at all in the morning and good strong sunshine. It was pretty busy with some local pilots and a group from Japan and one from HK. It was pretty easy to get a climb out but the sink monster was in good form. Typical inverted high pressure conditions, with lots of bubbly thermals and strong sink between them. The wind was pretty strong too so the thermals were ratty and broken. I made two attempts to cross to Koshr before I could stick there and had to watch two of my friends, who are far better pilots, bomb out trying. Then I had to deal with some real clowns who would not thermal cooperatively or even look where they were going, it was as rough as hell and I wanted to throw up. I was flying so badly even novices were outclimbing me. Less than happy, I thought to myself that I would fly to the end of the Koshr ridge and then head back to Saichia for a nap. I was feeling quite nauseous and tired already. Then Jaco showed up in his HG so we flew together for a while to test his theory that he could outclimb a PG (my PG!) by pushing out more. So far, I can say it doesn’t work. 🙂
He left the lift to cross what the HK pilots call ‘the bowl of death’ and fly towards Dajin mountain. Of course I wasn’t going to let him fly off north and run home myself, that wouldn’t be right. It was really quite cold up high, like being at 2000m in a Swiss summer. We got over to Dajin okay and then another couple of pilots on Nova Tattoos joined us. Of course I wasn’t going to let those guys get ahead of my Sigma6, so when Jaco headed off over ‘the bowl of certain death’ I followed, though with a bit more height than him. By now the inversion was so thick you couldn’t make out much on the ground, and there was a good cloud over Dajin mountain that covered half of the valley. I switched my GPS on just in case. I was already feeling dizzy and ever more nauseous, I thought about landing so I could throw up in peace. Crossing over, the wind was so strong I saw 60kph with only half accelerator… Oh well, better just keep going.
On the other side Jaco quickly found a light climb and I joined him about 300m above, but I think I had a better core and quickly climbed back to 1200m or so. Jaco was getting beat up pretty badly and decided to push ahead and look for some smoother lift, but he only had about 700m. I noticed the clouds were spreading quickly and decided to get as high as possible before it all closed down. Jaco disappeared behind a spur and I never saw him again. The Novas were chasing me so I got back on the bar and raced up the ridge to the house, got a little top up there and then was quickly reduced to ridge soaring the remaining few km to the last crossing over the Butterfly Valley. Once there it was very windy and rough, but at least the wind was blowing me toward goal. Just as well since it was too rough to use the accelerator. The two Novas very bravely tried to turn and fly back home but only made it about 3km before landing out. I made the crossing okay and landed at goal in trashy, gusty wind. It wasn’t my prettiest landing but it was safe. Doug had just left in the HK team retrieve van but they would turn around and come back for me 🙂
I was quite happy but felt too sick to drink my usual celebratory beer. If anything I was just glad to be on the ground instead of being tossed around.