|hiflioz and come on's blog
Corryong Days 5, 6 & 7
Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:00 pm
[ Mood: Happy ]
Turnpoint Distance Direction Observation zone
ELLIOT 13.7km 254į Cylinder R=5.0km
JINGEL 37.4km 318į Cylinder R=400m
CUDGWE 32.3km 175į Cylinder R=400m
CLCCLC 9.0km 086į Cylinder R=1000m
Weíve all realised that conditions are tougher than theyíve been in recent years, but today the sky looks awesome, big fat cuís popping easily over ranges and valleys alike.
The floaters have a task to Mitta TP (western end of the range) and then to Towong. The open have a task to Jingellic, a long way to the NW, then S to Cudgewa and east to clack-clack.
Another fun task around the valleys and ridges, with lots of options. I canít wait! I can do this! I feel good about landing in the valleys now, in these light winds. I might get to see a whole bunch of new country!
I set up and fiddle with the VG. I check the other Litesports and realise that the luffline compensator position VG off is different on my wing (Litesport lufflines are attached to a compensator on the kingpost that lowers when you pull on the VG so the sail can flatten). Mine is jammed in place about halfway up. Aha! I spray gallons of silicone into the slot on the kingpost and pull the VG on and off lots of times. Amazing, itís working! So before, when I had been pulling on the VG, the lufflines werenít lowering! No wonder the nose dropped and the bar position was past my chest at trim! Hooray, Iíve solved the problem! Belatedly, yes, but at least itís done! Litesport owners should probably make a mental note.
Geoff and I go late, but I canít remember why. Not conditions on launch because the sky looked fantastic; probably the open queue built too fast for us to get into it. In any case, we go soon after the ordered launch and once again we thermal up together to about 7500 over launch. I spot pilots on Mitta but they donít seem to be doing as brilliantly as the sky would suggest. And now around us there are pilots who have launched ages before Ė Iím sure I see Migs and Pap - who have reappeared from somewhere.
In any case, Geoff and I go on glide across the valley to the Mitta range. The VG fix, I see, instantly makes a huge difference. I pull on a couple metres, the bar position is fine and I try to match the speed to fly closely, though with this much VG I donít like to slow up as much as it suggests. I am 100s of feet higher than Geoff by the time we reach the other side, even though he started slightly higher than me. Geoff canít get his STF arrow to appear on his vario for some weird reason; even though weíve set our instruments with the same parameters. Itís very odd and one of the joys (not) of technology. So itís either my VG+ speed to fly are working properly now, or I was lucky to find a better line because it certainly felt buoyant. When I reach Mitta Iím still high Ė critically, higher than the inversion, so when I find something, Iím able to use it.
Fat friendly cuís pop along the range, just this side of the valley, and my thermal drifts southish towards them. Several other pilots are already there Ė excellent, maybe itís Pap and Migs?
First time Iíve been so high over the Mitta Range with lots of time to look along it as well as into the bowl-shaped cleared valley cupped in its centre. A couple of pilots in the bowl are low, working hard, but donít seem to be getting up. Further west someone is slowly climbing. Geoff is working his butt off over the pines and maintaining but I suspect heís below the inversion and it will be hard to break through.
Iím close to base now, pull on VG and head to the slowly climbing pilot in the bowl and yes, I snag his thermal but it isnít terrific. Circle up for a while and then head out to the hot rocks. Someone is working it but they arenít doing so well, and thereís not a blip on my vario. Just then I hear from Birgit, reminding me to use the clouds, and this is perfect timing, because although no clouds hang over the hot rocks and range, a line of them pop along the centre of the valley. This is totally counter intuitive but Iím still high enough for me to use them, so against my instincts I zoom to the middle of the valley for half a dozen turns. Way below me, two huge flocks of white cockatoos take flight, swirling against the green backdrop Ė beautiful, like looking down at a school of fish! I drink in the sightÖ and lose the thermal.
Checking my tracklog later, it seems that I should have searched for and stuck with the weak lift but I am impatient and figure there will be something better on the ridge to the north. When will I learn, sheesh?!? Someone is circling there low, Iíll join them, but this is a bad decision Ė impatience tends to lead to bad decisions, doesnít it?
I do get a few turns up the spine but once again I leave it for the higher ground of Pine Mountain, a dark hulk to the north. I see someone circling low just to the east of Pine mountain, in a narrow valley.
Iím flying over rugged country within glide of open paddocks, so Iím OK. Itís interesting, because thatís something I now take for granted, but when I had less confidence in assessing glide angle I wouldnít even have headed out over this country. Now though, even with sink, I know Iíd reach a safe LZ. So many small things combine to improve your enjoyment of flying, donít they, and none of them can be rushed. At least not for me, YMMV.
I reach the southern end of the mountain at ridge height and Iím too low to fly directly up the spine Iíd hoped would be wicking thermals, so I need to either divert west to a flattish open valley on the sunny side of the mountain, or east into the valley on the shaded side, where Iíd seen someone getting up before. I look for roads and canít see any nearby in the western valley, but a clear track in the eastern one. Yes, yes, obvious in hindsight, did I say SUNNY side of mountain vs SHADY side of mountain? Helen, Helen, Helen!
Oh well. The pilot scratching has gotten up; so I scrabble along the edge and below the ridge, and snag something. But itís extremely unpleasant. Itís a thermal, no wind, but it feels more like mechanical turbulence. Iím definitely going up but then I cop yet another sharp hard slap and it is enough for me, Iím below ridge height, I donít have thousands of feet of air below me, so Iím outta there. I always regret leaving thermals like this when I end up on the ground, but the next day at the briefing another pilot said that they had never felt as close to tumbling as they did yesterday in strange air near Mitta, and Geoff has gone weightless by the pines. Perhaps something to do with the inversion? So okay, perhaps a good call after all. My instincts are probably better than I think they are!
The Pine Mountain Creek valley is quite narrow but tree-dotted sloping paddocks lie either side of the creekline, as well as small flat paddocks. A powerline runs along the creek, of all places. I decide against the flat paddock Iíd initially chosen because it is small; I canít tell if itís slightly sloping and the wind is so light I canít pick direction Ė I could run out of paddock if itís sloping or thereís any downwind. So up the hillside it is, nexto those squarish green patches, directly above the glider in the shot:
Marginally steeper than I expect and I come in base alongside the powerline then final square at the face. Flare, bump, inelegant but nose doesnít touch, same kind of landing again! But Iím very happy with it, because I put it down exactly where I wanted. Yay!
A big hot carry back across the creek with harness then glider in two stages, and my sneakers fill with cow mud across the creek but never mind, Iíve packed my thongs and itís shady and cool packing up under the trees by the road. The view up the valley is gorgeous, soft green grass underfoot, Iím amazed again at just how awesome it is that I have just flown in that very space in the V of the valley, like a bird:
Once again, Greg arrives before Iíve even finished packing up.
Birgit has made it to Mitta and gone down there along with many other pilots; many, many donít get out of the start circle. Geoff ends up sliding off the eastern end of Mitta and Ralph makes it just past Walwa and is waiting for us at the cemetery. Ralph often manages to find interesting retrieve locations and this is one of them. Five pilots including Crossy make goal, Dave G lands a km or two away in the SUNNY valley Iíd rejected on the western side of Pine Mountain and yes, a road exists; but all the other SA pilots have fallen victim to the inversion and land along the Mitta range. Keith however has finally had a decent flight in his Sting3, and loves it.
So what does my flight computer think about my efforts? Iíve been in the air about an hour and forty minutes and this in itself isnít bad considering the trickiness of conditions. Max climbs of about 6m/s. An excellent takeoff, a good landing, a fun flight over beautiful, beautiful country in air that was clearly challenging. My VG worked! Iím happy!
Turnpoint Distance Direction Observation zone
ELLIOT 9.4km 201į Cylinder R=5.0km
THOWGL 15.0km 207į Cylinder R=400m
ELLIOT 15.0km 027į Cylinder R=400m
KANGCK 9.4km 201į Cylinder R=1000m
Ha, boiled lollies to broken bickies is what this sportís all about, isnít it?
The conditions that had looked so epic didnít deliver yesterday but, today, even the promise isnít borne out by the view from launch. Perfectly safe, but sheets and sheets of high level grey. No cuís popping below them; launch is in shade and no cycles come up the face. It reminds me of one of our notorious easterly (stable) sites in SA, Razorback.
Pilots set up desultorily: no one is in a rush because early is clearly not the time to launch. Maybe the sky will open up later?
A task is called that looks like fun and, yay, itís to another place I havenít been: Thowgla, nestled high in a little valley beyond Kangaroo Creek, then back along the Elliot range to launch, and out again to Kangaroo Creek. It seems like a fun ridge race and there should be pilots dotted all the way along and back to help.
Still, no one launches. Pilots RiverDance to entice the skygods to cooperate but no luck (not actually surprising if you had seen it). Even the eye-popping vision of High Pants Hughbert & Friends doesnít help but then thatís also not so surprising:
Hughbert entertains with a very good pirate joke (Arrrrr!) and Toby, in his wing impersonating an umbrella on launch waiting for a few knots to come up the face, tells us his fly dropping six inches joke.
Toby and his umbrella:
Paulie shows off his package. There is something very unfortunate about lycra and leg loops. Hours pass (not with Paulie showing off his package, though horribly it seemed that way, just hours waiting for something, anything).
Conditions are not improving. Here's Keith, waiting:
Finally, pilots begin launching because the alternative is packing up on the hill. Launches are under 3-4 kts, often nil. All are excellent Ė good strong runs without jackrabbit starts, with lengthening strides often all the way to the flags. Iím impressed and clearly Stuieís nagging and naming and shaming (in the nicest possible way) of dodgy launchers each year is sinking in. Everyone runs hard and gets off cleanly Ė very nicely done, better than many Iíve seen in vids of AAA footlaunch comps. Thumbs Up everyone!
I havenít launched the Litesport in nil wind before. Martin points out itís no different than a nilwind sleddie at Tunk, but it is AFAIC because here it can suddenly come over the back as you are two steps into your run. Not good. Iíve been launching when itís light, but only when the flags down the slope AND the trees are also moving slightly; that way however light it is where Iím standing, Iíll at least be running into good air. Logically, then, if I stick to this method, nilwind should be OK. My secondhand Skorpion harness (thanks, Blenky!) is easier to run in than my old Moyes Flex. But I definitely need a damn good long run because Iím at the top of the weight range for the Litesport3, so stall speed is high.
Interestingly, though Iím at the top of the weight range in the Litesport3 Iíve had no problems climbing out with others; this surprised me last year too, so it is a nice lifty little wing. Itís lighter to handle than a bigger wing in the air and less tiring. When I get hit by rough air on final, it responds so I can get it back into the wind. When I fly it in stronger conditions on the coast, Iím grateful for my wingloading. When I was first considering wing size some told me I would be better off on the 4, on which I would be light, and there would have been advantages in climb certainly, but now after two years of flying the 3 Iím very confident that I made the right choice. I prefer safety & handling over climb. Of course it comes in at Mach10 in nilwind, but Iíve learned its flare window reasonably well if not perfectly, so thatís OK too. I know everyone loves their own wing to bits, and thinks itís better than all the others out there. The Litesport handles beautifully but it handles like a topless, not a floater; Malibus, Stings, Falcons and Funs are hands down easier to fly and new pilots shouldnít ever believe anyone who says their topless ďhandles like a floaterĒ.
Another significant issue is the physical weight of my lotsa carbon Litesport Ė 26.5 kg. For men who easily lift a 38+kg glider, a few savings in kilos makes no difference. But when the weight of a wing is close to your maximum lifting strength, a few kilos makes a huge difference, and this is the case for many of us women. I can load my L3 onto our high 4WD by myself, whereas I had a LOT of trouble loading the Shark which was just 6 kg heavier. Gerolf told Kathryn that even for highly competitive female HG pilots, itís not about racing to goal, but about getting there consistently. Our smaller wings are less efficient and our lighter weight means weíre slower than the boys anyway. So getting the fastest tuned all carbon topless is not necessarily the answer. Birgit is enjoying her tiny MastR 12.5, whereas Brigitte has a Sport2 135 to fly when she is ready. Birgitís MastR is even lighter than my Litesport. And Jamie Shelden recently completed a 318km task at Forbes in her Litesport4! But I digress.
Itís the end of the day so I might as well fly down. The flags and trees are moving, launch marshall says good to go and run run run run down the hill, ease out and nicely away Ė Iím pleased (and I get a good launch lollipop prize the next day).
But I find zip on my way to the LZ until as Iím over the road a little bubble teases. Steve Norman in his Atos is circling nearby as are two other pilots but we are all at only a few hundred feet and it will get crowded with a whole bunch of us suddenly coming in at once, so pull in for speed, flare, bump! Geoff comes in nicely, Birgit ditto. Definitely more tidily than me.
A disappointing day for flying Ė only 10 pilots get out of the start circle with one making 18km, 24 in the bombout and 14 who elect not to fly. Mark gets to floater goal, a very short one straight to Khancoban airport Ė well done!
Still, the day has been fun with the usual shenanigans on the hill. Life is too short to get annoyed when weather gods tease us, and when you have friendly laughing good people all around.
Day 7, 08/01/2011
Turnpoint Distance Direction Observation zone
ELLIOT 9.4km 201į Cylinder R=5.0km
THOWGL 15.0km 207į Cylinder R=400m
ELLIOT 15.0km 027į Cylinder R=400m
KANGCK 9.4km 201į Cylinder R=1000m
No, thatís not a mistake, we have the exact same task as yesterday seeing as no one made it but oh, what a difference a day makes! Thereís the possibility of OD today but right now the clouds already look fantastic.
Still tricky though. Launch timing will be crucial because of the varying cloud cover. Weíll get definite sink and lift cycles as the shade covers the valley or sunshine breaks through. So I elect to go in the Open launch again, because conditions are not bad now and if I get right at the front of the line things will hopefully not have become too shaded.
And indeed, they do not. Geoff is right behind me in the queue. Martin is launching early too, just ahead of me. He goes left in something, but it does not look great and so when I launch I pull the VG immediately and head straight across to the right and the bare spine, where a few pilots are circling low and maintaining. I luck into their thermal higher than them as it runs up the spine, but the quality is patchy. Quite a distinct difference in the cores today, which are small and punchy and snaky, so that you think you must have it when the vario screams for three circles all the way around, and then suddenly it is completely gone, so you have to hunt again.
Geoff and I climb out in the same thermal along with a few others, but Iíve been lucky to catch it at the right time with plenty of height, whereas those who launch or join it later have to work a lot harder to get up. Geoff is a bit below me and the thermal has drifted towards the back of the bowl by the powerlines, no worries for me but a bit challenging if youíre lower, and have to assess every turn, not least because of the nature of todayís thermals.
Itís really tricky getting up today so I concentrate hard and it pays off, and Iím at 5700í, with Geoff a little below. But Iím not going to make the same mistake and wait around this time, because itís getting more shaded everywhere and things might soon shut down. Big cuís dot the Elliot ridge all the way to Thowgla and the ridge itself is sunny but I donít know how long it will last. I radio Greg & Geoff that Iím going on glide and zoom off with my nice functioning VG. I notice a bit of radio chatter Ė another team must have taken up our Channel but I ignore it. Iím wrong actually, and wonder why Geoff & Greg & Birgit & Ralph all ignore me, but donít discover this until Iíve landed and taken the radio out of my harness and see that sometime between my radio check in the launch queue (all fine) and launch I have switched channels! In any case, I happily and conscientiously broadcast my position to everyone but Greg and my team for the next hour and three quarters! Nice that the other team didnít tell me to shut up!
Off we go. A pilot is turning near Kangaroo Creek, maybe Alasdair. I reach him and do a few turns but canít seem to nail it and soon Iím low enough to unzip. But then I spot a nice bare brown spine with moving trees Ė excellent! I head for it and a punchy wriggling little snake of a thing meets me in the bowl and zigzags over the spine and back again. Itís here, there, everywhere and nowhere! Iím so low I have to check each turn for clearance from trees, with lots extra thrown in for safety because of the up-and-down air. But I bank it right up and work my little butt off, climbing, climbing back to ridge height then all of a sudden it is gone and back down I go to my original level. s***!
Oh but wait, there it is again! Iím drenched in sweat inside my speedsleeves. I tell myself aloud to forget the heat, just bloody concentrate for once, on every single turn and to watch that averager and keep looking for it even if it goes to zeroesÖ and then finally climbing up, and up, Yay! I did it!!!!!! I zip up again with a massive grin on my face; I might even have woo-hoooíd aloud!
Clouds are building on the southern shady side of the ridge. Another pilot is right underneath one and high, but I prefer to skirt the edges. The lift isnít as good here of course, more broken up, but Iím okay with that. Plus there are safe small wispies popping further out.
I reward myself with the wonderful view because Iím high enough to enjoy it. Dark, thick tall forest here Ėcool and lush looking from this height, but I know from down on the spine that itís hot and dry. The clouds are beautiful too today, a whole second landscape to appreciate.
Another pilot is climbing on the courseline just the other side of Kangaroo Creek. Geoff is behind me and lowish; I think I spot him and tell him about the spine; itís the same place he got up last year. I head off, slowing to top up in a few broken little bits along the way, indicated by moving trees. For me the thermals today are by far the trickiest of the week to core, but Iím doing well. Itís a real challenge and Iím having a great time. Interestingly, no one seems to be behind me on course or catching up as Iíd expected and when I peer back Elliot launch is engulfed by shade. Later I gather that a whole bunch of guns went down in the ordered launch, so again, it was a good decision to launch very early as we did. Sort of.
I jump across Kangaroo Creek to the next spine Ė this is new territory! Ė losing very little height. Burble along in the bubbles along the ridge still quite high. Weíve been told to get to Thowgla high because landing options in the narrow valley are limited, so stop to top up before jumping out to a little cluster of houses nestled in a beautiful little valley that looks as if it belongs in a story book.
I fly with my Compeo+ on the downtube but use a Garmin 72 on the basebar for navigation; the Compeo has the GPS function but I donít like to switch pages in the air, fiddling around with instruments settings while flying is a surefire way for me to lose a thermal, although I have used one function a couple of times this week to refind a thermal. When I get close to a TP, I zoom in on it with the Garmin so I can see Iíve gone inside the circle. I also set my circle at 370m instead of 400. Iím not racing with the hot shots where every second counts and even a 200m radius would make no difference. Beep goes my GPS, and yes, Iím inside the circle.
I read recently of someone who zooms in on his Garmin screen and sets interval to 10 seconds, to help find lost thermals. Iím not sure if I could do that; the little arrow on the Compeo and nos are hard enough to read already! But it might be worth a try.
I jump back to my hillside and the shade is catching up. Ahead of me, the valley is shaded plus the ridge, with a little sunny remnant on the southwestern and sourtheastern sides of Kangaroo Creek Valley. I go for sw and yes, there is something, very broken and weak, and becoming more shaded even as I turn. But the other side of the valley faces northwest, and the bare bits of dirt have only just become shady. Maybe something left there?
There is, itís weak, I do a few turns as I hopscotch along the spine but no, it is all shutting down so I glide out, pausing to circle in something pathetic but itís not going to happen and, flare, bump, nilwind and slightly downhill nexto the main road!
What a great day! Yeeehaaaa!
Just then I spot another pilot coming in; itís Chainsaw, and he lands exactly like me, which is companionable of him. Not 5 minutes later we watch two more pilots dropping like flies out of the sky on the other side of the road, and a couple more further back towards Kangaroo Creek; one of them is Geoff. But only someone with wings that flap could stay up in this, at least for now.
But ironically by the time I have finished packing up, the day has turned on a boomer and just gets better and better. Massive clouds grow fast with plenty of sunshine, and I gather a whole bunch of guns have reflights; some launching at 6pm or later and still making goal!
Still, Iím stoked! Iíve had a great flight and done lots and lots of things well today.
Greg arrives when Iíve only just started packing up so he gets Geoff first, and they come back for me. We give Chainsaw a lift too. Birgit is a few km down the road and as we help her pack up we spot a pilot coming towards us in the middle of the valley. Whatís he doing out there, surely the lift is on the sunny ridges? But no, itís Crossy and he gives us a wave. He has made goal and is now flying back to the rest of his team!
The other SA pilots have varying success depending on when they flew and whether they have reflights Ė Miguel and Dave G make goal. Itís quite surreal watching pilots still at cloudbase at 6.30pm as we drive into town! Mark has reached the floater goal yet again Ė he had come into goal high and decided to keep going! Brigitte also flew today, another good launch and landing for her.
I have had a fantastic time, my most fun and best year here. I feel totally in the right place mentally and attitudinally. I have my goals but they are realistic, and at long last I can honestly say that this week I did not let the goals of others define my own enjoyment and assessment of my flying. Iím very clear about what I want from my flying Ė to enjoy where Iím at, to enjoy the journey, the views and the growth. If that growth is not meteoric like some of the guns, then so be it.
This time, when Iím on the ground early and see other pilots flying over me, I no longer beat myself up or think Iím a crap pilot. Iíve maybe had bad conditions, bad luck, or flown less well than I would have liked, but this one day, no matter how many bad decisions Iíve made, does not define me as a pilot. I have many hours, only a small proportion of which are XC, and thatís OK. I can look at the daily scores and see the positives there, without the negatives, though anyone else looking at my placings might wonder (http://www.soaringspot.com/corcup2011/results/)!
The flying was trickier this year but Iíve improved my placing significantly from previous years, which corroborates my sense of having flown better. I feel at a very deep level that Iím doing exactly the right thing for me, and that my decisionmaking is getting better all the time.
And when I compare my experiences here in 2009, Iím quite amazed at how much Iíve learned: http://www.hanggliding.org/weblog.php?w=78&month=2&year=2009&day=4
No doubt many XC competition pilots will be completely mystified or even horrified by my approach. A brush with breast cancer a few years ago changed my priorities, but itís more than that. Some pilots like my friend Kathryn thrive on competition, and blossom under its influence, but competition is fun for me only when I can retain my own goals and not let them be subsumed by arbitrary goals Ė like reaching goal. Always I have to remember: why do I fly? For fun, for challenge, for the views, for the personal growth. If my own goals are my genuine priorities, then the rest will follow. Iím afraid that striving for points is not on that priority list and who is to tell me I should do otherwise (well, actually, many people, but I no longer listen to them!). If I ask myself, Did I have fun? Did I do something new or better today? and the answer is yes to any or either, then Iím happy.
There are those special moments Ė and Iíve had several this week Ė where you think, Wow! How incredibly lucky am I to be able to do this? When you think about what we do Ė fly, using just the natural air currents, it is a breathtakingly awesome thing, the dream of so many people who have lived before us, available just in this short few decades of all history. Geoff also hugely enjoyed the flying here this week, and seen improvements. Yep, we are bloody lucky buggers.
What could I do better? Many things, of course!
Pay attention to glider glitches like jammed VG Ė near enough is nowhere near good enough and potentially dangerous. Ignoring it was stupid.
Stick with zeroes for longer, be more patient and not leave weak lift with the expectation there is something better, unless I can see someone close by going up in something better.
Be more flexible in my decisionmaking Ė if conditions change, change my plans. This is something I struggle with.
Donít hang about over launch, just go!
Concentrate hard to get up in tricky thermals, but donít worry about losing them for good reasons (like spectacular views) when high.
Bank up more when thermalling with another pilot.
Become more adept at speed to fly. Pay more attention to the numbers on my gadgets because they are there to help when I need them most!
Drink more water, more often. Drink at the top of every thermal as well as on glide.
Finetune that flare!
Itís all good. We will definitely be back next yearÖ but maybe, if thereís a skills clinic at Forbes beforehand, we might go there first for a change of scenery!
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3 thumbs up
Joined: 10 Jan 2009
Posted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:23 am Post subject:
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3 thumbs up
Joined: 01 Nov 2010
Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:56 pm Post subject:
I just finished reading all of your Corryong write up, Helen. Awesome! Thanks so much.
Your approach to flying and "competition" is exactly like mine, so I really appreciate your writing. I haven't done any competition flying yet, but I have had well-meaning friends push me to be more competitive with my horse in the past. I decided that as long as my horse and I were having fun that it really didn't matter whether or not we won. We have improved a lot over the years, but all within an overall plan to stay safe and enjoy ourselves.
The view of the cockatoos from above must have been breathtaking! I can just imagine what it looked like.
Thanks. I look forward to the next time you update your blog.
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Joined: 27 Jan 2011
Posted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:17 am Post subject:
This interests me！
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