Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Got lift?

Ray arrived at the Kahana LZ just as me and Scot reached low launch, and told us the windsock was going crazy: onshore, offshore, S, SE, NW, or just hanging there, plus there were cats paws coming in. Great!

But Scot didn't care about the LZ since he wasn't planning to land there anyway. Plus the clouds and wind lines and cycles all looked like they were reasonably onshore. Scot launched, and I followed soon after. Ray decided to hike up to join us. Hooray!

We slowly worked our way up. Very slowly, in light easterly trades mixed with sea breeze and thermals. Scot got high first and I worked my way up to join him. Somehow the smooth buoyant air carried me up to 2,800! That might be the highest I've been at Kahana. I think Scot got even higher. We could see the Waianae range! And the clouds put on an unforgettable show.

We waited a long time for Ray to make his way up. He finally joined us up high, and then he suggested a bay crossing attempt. We tried it, but without much luck: Ray bombed to the LZ, I came back and top crashed way below low launch, and Scot toplanded at low launch.

Seattle Conrad hiked up, and we tried again. Scot headed downrange first. I followed a ridge or two behind, and Conrad came later, a ridge behind me. But he overtook me at Sacred Falls while I was distracted in a monster thermal.

We found the thermals to be pretty strong and rough once we got back to the inland ridges. Scot said at Punaluu he rode the strongest thermal he'd ever been in. I managed to turn some full circles in some of them, but others were so mean and chunky it was all I could do to just slow down and hold on until they decided to spit me out.

Scot was hoping to cross Laie and reach Kahuku, but the lift wasn't working for him and he ended up landing at Pounders. He figured out that after you land at Pounders you need to fold up where the people are, and when anyone talks to you, ask them which way they're going before you ask them for a ride. Using this technique he scored a lift right away.

Me and Conrad also wanted to cross Laie, and Conrad showed me how deep in the back you can go and still find lift. I think we should start going deep like that from now on, to work the Laie foothills for lift and see if we can sneak around the back to Kahuku. But today we didn't find enough to inspire us to continue, and we ended up landing in the ball fields behind PCC.

Scot came back for us and gave us a lift. Thanks, Scot!

When we got back, Jeff, visitor Klaus, Thom, and Maui Doug were at the LZ, or on launch. Jeff talked Klaus through a sledder. Ray did a couple of tandem sledders with new students. Chicago Tim scratched hard but finally ended up at the LZ as well.

Later I heard Maui Doug couldn't make it work either, although he was happy to get some practice scratching in light lift. I heard Thom didn't even bother to hike. Jeff got up, but it was super light and he never managed to get very high.

On my way to pick up the kids I noticed that cloudbase was super high along the whole range. Wonder if we missed a great Makapuu downranger? I guess we'll never know. In any case, Kahana certainly gave it up for the first shift.

I also heard Reaper and Mad Dog were headed out to fly Lanikai. I guess this was one of those classic windward days that allows us to fly all three sites at once.

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