Late June was chosen for the competition this year to try to avoid the sometimes scary overdevelopment they have experienced here later in the summer. Although conditions are typically quite strong in June, late in the month normally brings little precipitation. Before arriving here, we were happy to find the expected forecast for sunshine and no overdevelopment. Unfortunately, there were three decent sized wildfires burning and very strong wind (70mph) right here just a few days before the comp was to start. A temporary flight restriction was in place due to firefighting aircraft right up until 9pm Saturday evening. Luckily, it was lifted, the wind died down and other than some large sections of scorched earth, the fires are out and won't be effecting our flying.
I've heard stories of days of 1500-2000 fpm lift to 18,000+ feet here, but for Task 1, we got slightly more mild conditions. With the high pressure here at the moment, lift was forecast to be only between 600-800fpm with an inversion around 12,000. So, the task committee called a smallish (for this area) task east to the town of Meeker - about 110km. Turns out it may have been a little short - at least for those that were happy to hold on tight and endure the rodeo. The first pilots made easy time of it and the goal crew wasn't even able to beat them there.
It's interesting to see the reactions of various pilots to this kind of big air. Nene Rotor had a giant smile on his face at goal and seemed to genuinely enjoy the same rough air that Jonny and Ollie whined about all evening. Ollie said he was crying for his mommy at least three times during the flight and suspected that he may have crushed his carbon basebar holding on so tight. Some reported very turbulent air, others said it felt no different than Crestline in the summer and still others found it to be strong but not overly rough for the mountains. I suppose it all depends on the air you happen to be in.
Scores are slow coming - with very weak mobile phone service around here and pilots being rather spread out, it's tough to get scores posted as quickly as we would like. When yesterday's task is scored, it will be up on AirTribune. Meanwhile, it's likely that Zac won the day, although he was unsure whether it was him or Nene that crossed the line first. I also spoke with Christian last night and he came through very lifty air to goal and was fairly high - so it's even possible that he was above Zac and Nene and came in ahead of them.
We're using Flymaster live trackers here rather than AirTribune for a variety of reasons. Although they are tracking well in this very remote area, we've had trouble with the interface - pilots show simply as a number, so unless viewers know everyone's number, they have no way to see who is who. We also haven't been able to get the task up on the Flymaster site. It's been frustrating, but we're working like mad trying to get it all fixed up so that people can watch from afar.