Lowsave

Getting low and want to get up again

Stay high is good to reduce your risk for landing unintentionally. But when going on XC you sometimes need to leave your thermal without having a 100% option for where to get the next good one. And many times you will miss the timing for the next cycle of your next thermal. If you miss the one you go for, you may have to go for the next option, and so on. It will likely put you closer to the ground than you wish for. You get in a position where only a proper lowsave can be the solution for how to extend your flight.

Safe landing must always be your highest priority, even when you aim for a lowsave. Take no risk where you put yourself in a situation where you don't have a nice landing field or where you may have to land downwind. Always look for good landing options, there may be several to choose between but always have them in reach and have a clear priority of them. This is very important so you can make a nice flight the next day. Taking big risk of having bad landing, never pays off. Even if you make it and get up from a very bad position, the risk it self is devastating. It will make you want to do the same thing, over and over again, all the way until it is no longer a success, and you will hurt yourself. Many pilots have done this before you. Don't get in that row!

Closer to the ground you have other things to bare in mind, than when taking a thermal higher up. You are closer to the source of the thermal. And every source of a thermal is in a lee side, you can expect an other kind of turbulence when you get in the thermal, than you are used to when you are higher up. You will also be affected by mechanical turbulence from obstacles along the ground if there is wind. And remember that thermals create wind along the ground, even if there are no wind higher up. If it is a windy day, you may also be working in the wind gradient. This mean that taking a low save requires more of your piloting skills than taking a thermal higher up. You need to know your wing and how you fly it, very well, before going to make a lowsave. In addition you must remember that since you are close to the ground, you will have no time to recover your wing if you have a collapse. And definitely no time to land safe under your reserve. So be aware of this much higher level of risk taking before you want to try it! Lowsaves are no-go for beginners! Even a EN-A with high resistance to collapse, need some altitude to recover from a collapse.

To find the lift when you are getting low and want to get up again, you should search downwind and for lower ground. This is to increase your time in the air, and you can cover more ground, where you can find a thermal that may save you from landing. Monitor your ground speed to try to locate the thermal. A thermal is going up and needs air to replace the rising air. This make the air around the thermal to increase the speed towards the source of the thermal. Make some small adjustments to your direction and try to maximum your ground speed. Monitor any changes in ground speed, and try to visualize where the thermal is. And go there!

When you find the lift you must stay in it. You need to bank over you glider very tight, with a high angle of bank (roll pendulum) to stay in the lift. If you open your turn, you will leave the lift and probably loose it. When you are in this situation, you should not be searching for stronger lift. Just stay in the air where you are and let the time work for you. Even if you get a zero, it is wise to stay inside it. It will give you better chances to get up. Even if you have -0,5 m/s on your variometer, it means that you are in rising air and it may very well be the start of your lowsave. Of course if you see obvious clues for better air, and you are 100% sure you can get it, you should go there. But usually you got into this position because of lack of options. When working in your turns in a lowsave, you should not push upwind, like you do higher up. Higher up we push upwind because we are drifting more than the thermal itself. When you are low, try just to make good, regular 360's and better drifting with it downwind. The real source of the thermal is very often downwind. This is because the wind is created by the thermal, so drifting with it, will get you closer to the source and the stronger lift. If you are doing this in flatland, you can also expect the trigger point to be drifting along the ground. This also make you want to push a little downwind to get to the core of the thermal. Half way up you may experience that your thermal meets other thermals, it may be a little turbulent, before they add together and become wider and stronger. When you get higher up you may treat it like an other common thermal, searching for better lift may be a good option. And you for sure get the best feeling when you reach cloudbase!