Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Rules Have Changed

Clearly, they have. And I'm not talking about your average, everyday, rules, like "don't run with scissors" or "don't eat yellow snow" (both good rules by the way). I'm talking about the tried and true, hard and fast rules that we have to follow as paragliders -- not the BIG rules, like GRAVITY, but the small ones, like, we can't cross the bay on an easterly day.

It was 60* to 66* all day, and when I flew this afternoon it was 11-16 mph. Not a day when you usually would plan a bay crossing event! But, in the wake of Alex's last few flights, I decided that nonconformity was the new rule for the day. With that in mind, I did not set out to cross the bay. You see, today was all about the pod. As you may know, my new girl and I have had a few flings recently and I was itchin' to get her under the covers. So, today was all about the pod and the action that I could get under all that neoprene!

I had to work all morning, so I ignored Wind Lines and KNEW that Alex, Woody, and others would be flying -- them's the breaks. I was finally able to break free and headed to Kahana this afternoon to find a very different day than this morning had been. This morning it was light and thermic, and this afternoon it was strong and east. I hiked up regular and prepared to launch from low launch. Woody and Alex were in the air and it was clear that there was lift everywhere.

This was my first attempt at combining the Wonder Twin Powers of the Kortel Kamasutra II (with pod) and the Advance Sigma 8. Well, all I have to say is "Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE!" I launched, and spent the first half hour or so of my flight tweaking the harness -- there is soo much adjustability, and I really needed the time to get into the groove of this harness. I admit, I am still working on the relationship with the KSII. It is a good combination for this wing in exactly the way it was not for the Sport 4. This wing is more dynamic than the Sport, and the KSII mellows out the edges. I am finally getting the hang of flying two wings connected above my head.

So, having launched on regular low, and having spent the better part of an hour tweaking my ride, I decided to make my first bay crossing attempt. Little did I know, that this was possibly the worst time of the entire day to attempt this maneuver. I benched up at Kahana and headed out front, hot on the heels of our fearless leader (Alex). As I headed out front, I began to get rained on -- not just light rain, but the rain that comes at cloudbase when a particularly wet cloud has decided to retain it's water in the hopes of drenching poor hapless paragliders. Needless to say, this was not the bay crossing I was up for. I pulled ears and got out of the worst of the rain, all the while watching Alex head across the bay, mostly in the clouds (he had to be wet-cat wet).

I redoubled my efforts and was soon attacking the bay crossing yet again. This time I pulled in at 1000' above the horn at anti-kahana. I had just watched The King make a futile attempt at getting established on the far side of the bay, and I was not willing to let myself get too deep. I pulled in at 1000' and by 900' I was headed back for the safety of Kahana. At this point, Alex had to land to do a tandem, and Woody was just playing around close to the deck as Bonnie was on launch.

I took some time to mess with my harness settings, and then decided to head back up to try to cross one more time. This was it for me. If this one did not make it, then I would just head in for the day. I benched up above Kahana, and headed out, hoping to coincide with a nice cloudbank that was heading my way. I made the exit from the front of Kahana at 2000', and met the cloudbank just past the middle of the bay. I made the far side of the bay at 1100' or so. I told myself that I would turn back at 800', no matter what. So, with a few hundred feet to spare, I pressed into the full venturi at the edge of Kahana.

My new wing is no slouch! I was pinned in the venturi on the lift/penetration seesaw. I could eek up a few feet if I was on the brakes, but the result was that I was flying backwards. So, on quarter bar, I played the seesaw. Up a few feet. Off Brakes. Pull forward. On Brakes. Up a few feet. Closer to the cliff. Watch for the rotor. Little bit of rotor. Away from the cliff. Back on the brakes. This continued until I figured that I had enough height to break away from the zone, and then I went on half-bar up into the hidden valley.

I knew that I did not want to go far into the valley (rotor from the southern face would suck). So, I made a few passes out front and headed over to the Ka'a'awa bowl. From there, I benched up to base at 2000' and headed out to Kualoa. I arrived at Kualoa at 1700' (or so) and played around there for a while. Benched up to 2000'+ and finally decided to head south due to the low cloudbase. Halfway to Hygienics, I saw Maui Doug at his kite spot and headed there instead. (I might have had Hygenics on glide, but it would have been close). Upon arrival, Maui hooked me up with a ride back to Kahana. Perfect!

When we got back to Kahana, Maui and Thane (a visitor from Utah) headed up to join Jim, Mike (5-0), Jeff, and Alex on the tandem. Bonnie had landed, and was packing up across the street, and Woody was putting his kit together in the park. Jeff landed shortly thereafter and headed to pick up refreshments (THANKS Jeff!) Jim, Alex, and Mike landed shortly, and Thane put on a quick SAT show for us before he finally landed. Maui Doug headed to the north and finally landed just north of Pounders, where I returned the favor and drove him back to Kahana.

All in all some great flights! But, with the new trend of north being south, and Hygienics the new Kualoa, and Hukilau the new Pounders, I figured I would settle the matter of bay crossing -- 66* is now bay crossing weather (Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE!) I do not have any pictures, so if any of you guys do, please post them.



allanc said...

Great to hear that you got up and that your harness and wing are working together so well. Must have been nice to have the additional speed to work your way through the venturi. Been stuck in the same spot but have not been able to get through it yet. Great to hear that the whole crew got a great day. Still waiting for my chance to get out there. Been on kayak duty for Nova at Makapu'u and diving so much did not want to chance the dive and fly risk. Aloha.

Thom said...

Ok, from now on I will drive to Kahana, Hiked up today and had to hike down as Fireman took off with a little FLX and Scot hiked back down and up again to fly his Slide.

I could hear Alex and Woody at KNA flying around. Oh, well now I am one the and wagon of; "It's perfect at Makapuu lets go to Kahana".

Great flight Duck, glad your digging your new gear.

Thanks for my wine read, I know I should have saved it for my coffee read but I couldn't stop.

JK said...

I know that teetering, minimal penetration, fishbowl, brushing-against-rotor feeling at the Crouching Lion Duck, and I don't like it much.

Mad Dog and Alex (and others) seem to do make the NEXT ridge pretty consistently. I always seem to stop at that white-knuckle perch of which you wrote. I think there's a three-part recipe to do what they do: (1) leave the Rhino Horn with 2100+, (2) find lift along the way over the bay (cloud suck, convergence, reef thermals or just boaty air), and (3) stay on a line direct to the reef until you can fly with a downwind component into your ridge of choice on the other side. Cheating right and getting suckered into that compression zone on the point is so easy to do, and zero penetration over the water BLOWS. I have track logs that show me doing just that even when I swore I wasn't. Mind you I'm just theorizing on this "recipe", but that's where my brain is caged as I experiment with all this.

Nice write up! I'm beginning to think about new gear myself now.

Alex said...

Thanks for the detailed writeup, Duck! I hope Woody isn't too disappointed that I never got to take him XC like we had planned! I tried four times to cross the bay, and the one time I made it, I was hideously low in that easterly flow, as you saw. It was fun taking Erick on a tandem afterward, though, so it's all good. Thanks to Jeff for the refreshments. Great to have Jim back and flying with us today.

Waianae Jim said...

Great flight and write up John, nice work with your new setup. Some day I'll figure out how you guys do that. Most times I just bail early due to my conservative nature, but having other more adventurous spirits out there sure does help me expand my own self imposed limited ideas of what is possible.

bfalk said...

Nice to see things are working out with you all new setup Duck. Are sport4's getting a back seat..? :)
Thon, I like the statement "It's perfect at Makapuu, Lets to go Kahana" Now I know what that means.
I love these posts.
thanks Duck