Linda Salamone's Blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I have been refelecting for a few days about the Santa Cruz Flats Race and wanted to add a few things that I missed while blogging during the meet. Plus I wanted to put up this ridiculous picture of Lauren...

First of all, the generosity of the people, local pilots and staff at the hotel, was a really wonderful surprise. They bought T-shirts like crazy and treated us all like they were glad we were there. There were nights when the wait staff was seriously over worked, but they did the best they could and let us pitch in without getting upset. I had a waitress every morning who saw to it that my coffee cup was never empty or even luke warm and she made sure I had an outlet for my computer right away. Like I said, they treated us all like they were glad we were there- that is absent so often in many service-oriented businesses these days.
Internet access was expensive, however, and next year the hotel promises to have a different arrangement. They are also willing to work with the tow field- maybe grow grass or find another solution to the dust we were pulling through. I wonder how I would have gotten along without a visor on my helmet, or if I had been wearing contacts like last year??? Even though I heard and read a lot about the dust, I don't think it was a deterrant at all, just something different than what us east coast pilots are used to. I was so very glad to have my sail swapped out at the end of the meet, instead of the practice day, however. I would have stressed out about the wear and tear, and had a hell of a time folding a stiff new wing up out in the desert somewhere. The dirt and UV in Arizona are pretty harsh, no doubt.

I liked the way the days went- up before dawn (on east coast time) and the sun comes up EARLY there- coffee and blogging/internet at 6:30- set up and run glider out to field at 8:30-breakfast and pilot's meeting at 10:00- chill and snack at the pool til 11:30- get gear on and get towed at 12:30 or so- fly til 5pm.... I could get used to that!

The flying was pretty good, not as high consistantly as last year, but still good. I was getting from 4400' to 9000' agl, more of the 4400' days though. My tows and landings were all very good. My retrieves, with the exception of one late night, were great. Mike McFadden was awesome and capable and very helpful.

Okay so for my mental attitude... I had a great start. I was dialed in and even dealing with a horrible turn in the glider, I still stayed in the front of the pack as far as scores. The 4th day was a turning point for the worse. I was racing along and even though I had thought the day would be shitty, it was getting booming good. So I cranked it up and pulled the string a lot. And so suddenly my flight was over after a very long glide straight to the ground. I dug deep to find a reason, a lesson, something to take home with me, and I could find none. There were no second chances on this flight- I was at 8K then I was on the ground. Bad line? There didn't seem to be a good one since Mark sampled an adjacent line and found nothing as well. But then Lauren had better luck way far to the west, which later led me to believe that the terrain near Picacho Peak was a sink hole. But two days before it was completely the opposite in a similar wind direction... hmmm. More than a day later I decided that it was timing, bad timing. The earth was breathing in instead of exhaling at that time.....Best glide would have been a better choice than balls-to-the-wall, and I needed to be more cautious even though racing had been working for me. Different day, different strategy...

The next day was called due to high wind (and lack of pilot motivation, I think). I was raring to go, but even though they may have been able to launch us safely, landing in the high winds, like the day before, out in the middle of God-knows-where, is always an issue. So a better forecast was in store for Friday, but after towing up, I saw 25mph (and heard 22mph from Chris) on my vario. The relight took a lot out of me and I really blew it that day. Again, I raced when I should have slowed up and thought things through a little better. I did have an opportunity to excercise my tenacity that day, with a long struggle from 300-800' off the ground... I still have it in me!!!

So the last day, the BBQ task downwind... well I finally slowed up and played it cautious! On the WRONG DAY! I knew it was good, and I was getting high and the thermals were regular and close together. The problem was that we would be passing right by Picacho Peak again... I was going to get past that place without getting my ass handed to me or winding up in the dirt this time! Consequently I was like 34th into goal..... ah well, at least I made it. I do regret not just sticking original plan (before the meet even started) of just going balls to the wall no matter what.

So... what will I do different next meet? Well for one, I will fly with a team. No more of this "on my own" thing. I will find a few people who fly like I wish I could, and get on the same frequency as them, and team fly. This will be something pretty new and different for me. I did experience it some at the Women's Worlds, and it was very helpful. I have a reliable radio, with a good 'shut the f*ck up' switch and I always wire it up, so why not make use of it?

Also, I will do more to see what the forecast is for myself. I know Davis is good at weather, but so am I and I need to be a little more pro-active for myself there. Top of lift and wind direction/speed... very important when planning the flight. And important for just taking ownership of the task, in a way. During this meet I just launched and followed the arrow and wind sock indicator. I will look at Google Earth and other maps for terrain too.

Follow the good pilots. Stay with them in the start circle, go when they go. Improve my glide, clean up drag on my harness and glider, get my head down, pull the string as much as I can without losing control of the glider, get my elbows in, go fast, don't stop for crap unless its all there is.

Stay positive, start each day anew, don't let other people erode your confidence, psych you out, or sap your energy. Rest, eat healthy. What am I forgetting?

Anyhow, it was so good to see all of my friends again, and better still to know that I will see them all again in a few short weeks. It had been 10 months since my last comp and I am glad for the frequency and spacing of these two. I'll be posting pics of my new wing once I get it back but here is one for now...


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