Monday, September 17, 2012

Let the Outsmarting Continue

“Let The Outsmarting Begin” has become our tagline whenever SturgeUrge and I launch a boat into salt water. Originally, we’d chime in together when our panga was pushed into the surf out of La Playita, the sleepy fishing village 25 miles east of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. It turns out we’re experts at outsmarting ourselves.

SturgeUrge and I have a deep and long history of going to Plan B after a scratchy day of fishing…of course, the next day it’s wall to wall Plan A. Yes, even our Mexican pangueros shake their heads in dismay…simple fishermen from a country that doesn’t do Multi-Tasking see the folly of SturgeUrge and TruckeeDave…

It doesn’t have to be a team effort either…as I demonstrated all by myself Sunday in the Valley Of Speed. Imagine my surprise when the Air Races ran ahead of schedule mid-day Sunday. The Unlimited Silver Race ran the exact ten minutes ahead of schedule that I needed to make it out to The Fenceline in time to get set up to roll video of the race.

Instead I pulled over across Red Rock Road from the Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Department Station, a half a mile as the crow flies from the racecourse, and shot the video from the driver’s seat…no tripod needed…I rested the pistol grip of my camera shade gizmo on my left hand which sat on the driver’s side windowsill. Out of the wind, the radio play by play recorded perfectly along with the images.

I didn’t bother to deploy the “Ansel Adams Wedding Veil”, and I headed back into Lemmon Valley after the race to pick up a few things and a tank of gas.

I made quick work of my list and was back out to the Fenceline an hour before the Unlimiteds were scheduled to take off.

Well, somehow the show went from 10 minutes ahead of schedule to an hour behind schedule in the blink of an eye! I busied myself refining the camera gizmo…

Back at the DaveCave Saturday evening,  I had downloaded and viewed all my captured video fromSaturday at the races…not the most professional camera work, but the major flaw was the omnipresent wind noise. The racing was good so the noise didn’t really register…probably due to my dehydration and fatigue at the time.

With time on my hands waiting for the Show Program to catch up with reality time, I decided to build a windscreen for the stereo microphones on the new camera.  I’d brought the extra weather stripping from the gizmo project, and with my new “titanium bonded” sewing scissors, I cut up tiny pieces of the weather stripping and built a little castle around the camera’s mics…it worked like a charm!

When the Breitling Gold Race finally came down the chute, it was more than worth the wait. Strega lead Rare Bear and September Fury onto the race course. Strega was never headed, but that’s only part of the story. Rare Bear paced the P-51 for four laps with Shuttle Pilot, Hoot Gibson hot on the Bear’s heels in September Fury. Precious Metal was a solid fourth and sounding fantastic. On lap four, Precious Metal didn’t come around and I asked “Where’s Precious Metal?”

Mayday came the answer. I looked up and saw Precious Metal flying wing and wing with the Safety Plane. One guy said PM lost a landing gear and everyone groaned “Oh no!” Moments later the show announcers said the P-51 lost a landing gear door…whew!

Rare Bear hung with Strega until he pulled up and a mayday was called, but I said: “The Bear is just coolin’ her down” Rare Bear struggled all week with overheating issues, and she was good for only 3-4 hot laps before the temps got out of hand.

The post-race commentary allowed that the Rare Bear crew pulled an all nighter redoing the cooling and spraybar systems. The Bear runs a Pratt & Whitney R-3350 Air Cooled radial engine. To reduce drag, they’ve tightened up the engine cowling, upsized prop spinner, so not enough cooling air reaches the cylinders. To compensate, they’ve added a water spraybar system that blows water onto the oil coolers. They didn’t get the kinks with the spraybar system worked out so they pulled out to save the engine.

Rare Bear made some circles above the course and landed without incident.

When all was said and done, Strega recorded her eleventh Reno Championship. There was no talk about retiring her as there had been all week.

The traffic out of the Valley Of Speed was light again. I heard a snippet on the news that the crowds were down this year. They attributed this to the late word that the Show would go on.

When I got home Sunday evening, I downloaded and viewed my video. Here’s where the outsmarting made itself obvious. The wind screen “castle” worked great, the ladder and monopod worked great too…one problem…your cameraman still couldn’t track the action.

Had I deployed the Ansel Adams Wedding Veil I’m sure my results would have been better… Let The Outsmarting Continue!

As I write it occurs to me that I should get a better tripod with a video-friendly fluid head, and equip it with a laptop shelf and view the action on a 15.5 inch screen with a homebuilt sunshade instead of a 3 inch screen on the camera! To quote Homer Simpson: D’oh!

I’ll edit the video and post it on the CorduroyPlanet YouTube Page later this week, and the still photos will go up on CorduroyPlanet’s Flickr Page this week.

You might take a look at or in the meantime

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