Yesterday we finally got a chance. Bruce and I are about as hungry as you can get. And not for food, the Abazzia restaurant continues to blow our minds. Hungry for distance. It didn’t look like it would be a great day. Too much wind, too early over-development and rain. All of which were true, but maybe, just maybe we could squeak a chocolate (100 km flight).
So we pinged off early and headed downwind east to just extend the distance a bit. As usual Bruce and I were the first off, but things were working well and progress was quick. Then the clouds stopped at the edge of the airspace so time to turn around and get some distance bucking the wind west. Coming back to wind was pretty ugly. Broken climbs, lee side whippers, a lot of talking to oneself trying to keep your shit together. But eventually we were high back over launch and while the going was hard, we were going.
As usual Nick Greece’s words were in my head when I’m flying. “Fly the day, not your desires.” Notice the wind in these clouds, looking back towards the Dolomites. One of those days where the correct call would be to just call it, save it for another day. And we were gaming for Monday (tomorrow) anyway, which looked better for weather post frontal. But I got high and tried one more glide further west. By the time I got there I was low and the wind was way too strong. My options were to dive back to the valley and look for a landing, or try to soar out and grab another ratty climb and just head back to camp. I chose the second option, taking a bit of a smacking around for a half hour or so before finally getting enough height to glide back. When I arrived a fellow Icepeak met me at the ridge, turns out it was this year’s Superfinal women’s winner, Nicole Fedele. An ace Italian pilot, it was good to know some other hot pilots (in this case “hot” both in ability and otherwise!) were in the neighborhood as the weather dance this last month has been a bitch.
So I decide to call it. Save it for another day. But as I soar out over the flats I notice some nice little cu’s starting to ping off the flats. At the same time Bruce, who has just landed says- “hey skipper, you should try the flats!”. I’m just a couple hundred meters off the deck but I’ve got time, why not? There’s a zero, ok now I’m in a .5 up…and I’m outa here! In no time I was up over 1100 meters (900 over ground) and the sky ahead looked brilliant. With Venice in the distance, and Bruce offering to chase me- well maybe I could get my chocolate after all! All I had to do was outrun the nasty shit that was building behind me- motivation! The OD was starting to happen, but it was tracking down the mountains and the flats looked safe. Very quickly I was finding strong climbs with lots of little starlings and gliding downwind at 60 km’s an hour. I knew I had to get about 70km to get the chocolate, with the 30 km+- out and back already covered.
Suddenly just to my right a cumulus goes ballistic. It must have grown 2000 meters vertically in 90 seconds. Time to get on the ground. And then I hit a wall- seabreeze directly from the south at about 30 km. I still had a ton of height, but spiraling down would mean a huge drift directly towards the rain and I was near a road and huge easy fields that I wanted to keep below me. So I just pointed into the wind and stomped on the speed bar and lamented that I’d only gone 60 km’s over the flats (total flight distance ended up being 96.5 km’s- 3 1/2 km’s short!). Unless I winged it downwind into the coming storm my day was done. But what started as a very average day turned into brilliant flying. As good days have been pretty non existent this spring in Europe I was on the ground with a huge smile on my face. I don’t believe many flights have been done over the flats, adding to the pleasure. Maybe a chocolate tomorrow…