World-record task in Chelan.

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View from roughly 160km.

From the start of the competition, I knew there was a really good possibility of a huge task, and that it would be longer than the previous task record of 214km set in Australia earlier this year. It wasn’t a surprise when they posted it, but it sure was a big number with distance to goal 224.3km. The day was forecast to be windy, and the start was a little scary—I had a hard time pushing away from launch towards the lake into the wind. I briefly considered landing, but heard over the radio that the LZ was thermic and windblown too, and decided the flats—and the task—were a safer option! It took a couple tries to get high enough to make the crossing over the Colombia River towards the start cylinder. I waited until several pilots were well established near the start so that I would have some good thermal markers to aim for since my glide doesn’t reach nearly as far as some. There were nice big thermals above the power lines, and it was a relief to move beyond them and eliminate the uneasy feeling of thermalling over high-tension power lines. Many pilots drifted away from the start with the wind, but I managed a great start position! Immediately after the start, my flight computer flashed the direction and distance to the next turnpoint—103km! A crazy number, given that I’d only ever flown that far just a few days prior. There were almost always gliders climbing in front of me for the first half of the flight which made pushing forward easier. It was a huge relief to tag the midway turnpoint, but daunting at the same time as the distance to the finish point came up on my computer—113km! I really had no idea if I was capable of finishing this task, but hoped to beat my current best distance. I got within a few hundred feet of the ground twice, the second time about 50km from goal. It took some time in survival mode to find an organized thermal, and then took more time to re-establish myself up under the clouds. I left my last thermal high enough, or so I thought. My focus was lacking and I’d run out of patience when I realized, about half a kilometer from end of speed, that I didn’t have the glide needed to make goal. It was a shock to be on the ground after six hours of flight just .2km from end of speed. I was happy and heartbroken at the same time, and I walked the last 2km to goal with my glider on my back. I learned a lot from this task, and I hope to never make the same mistake again!

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