That's the best way to describe the week we spent in Oregon at the Rat Race. Cool people, amazing speakers and a supportive & educational mentorship program rolled into one.
My mentorship group (aka Team Awesome, see picture #1) was Peter Warren, Riss Estes and me. We'd meet each morning before the task was called & discuss the weather, strategies to the first waypoint (which was always one of the same 3) and talk about our goals for the day. We'd have another quick session after the pilots meeting to check our gps was set up properly and to recap the best line to take for the day. Then we'd meet at HQ at the end of the day and chat about how we did on reaching our personal goals. That combined with the nightly speakers about gps set-up, weather, flying skills, etc made this like a one-week paragliding university.
The race itself was tough for the non-competition pilots as we had a high-pressure system most of the week & couldn't get high. My personal goal was to make the first turnpoint at least once, and I sort of did. I made the 2nd turn point before the first (strategy to get high & glide downwind to 1st turnpoint). Sounds confusing but it basically means I made my goal of tagging a turnpoint but didn't get scored for it.
The results...I don't want to talk about that! Ok, realistically I knew I'd be near the bottom since it's my first comp & all, but you always hold a secret desire that you'll be the whiz kid who shows up and makes goal the first day.
That didn't happen.
I think I came in 2nd last out of everyone (like 87 out of 88 or something), appropriately humbled but overall happy since I learned so much. I've already noticed in my 2 or 3 flights I've had since coming home that I'm much more relaxed & confident in the sky. Which really was my goal when I signed up for the race. Well that and fortune & fame, but those will come later, ha ha.