Launch Specifics and Bailouts
Launches at Mussel Rock Park
Landing Areas and Bailouts at Mussel Rock Park
Lemmings Launch, Primary LZs / Bailouts
View from Lemmings Launch
From Lemmings Launch, most pilots get up soaring the steps area between the launch and the knob. More experienced pilots will cross straight to the Westlake cliff. In winds of 10 MPH or so soaring The Steps becomes possible. Since the steps face WNW, a straight W wind or slightly northy is best. In a WSW wind, a bit more wind or skill will help pilots soar here.
The “knob” (please see photo above) can act as a checkpoint to assess if you are getting up. When pilots approach the knob and are more than or 15 ft above it, there is a very good chance that they will be above launch when they head back. If a pilot comes back from a first pass and is near or below launch level, it becomes prudent to plan a landing at the best bailout for this launch, the saddle area.
Bailout LZs from Lemmings: Between the saddle and lemmings, if the pilot has enough altitude, pilots can crab to the area just downwind of the saddle, execute an approach, and land at the saddle. If they are high, they can continue, past the saddle, south on the upper road.
Newer pilots should not fly below the blue line in the below photo. If somehow they end up below this line, they would then need to plan a landing either on the middle road, steps, or lower road.
When a Pilot is not high enough to bail to the Saddle or upper road, it is often possible to land on Gusto launch. On a NW day, landings will require a bit of a run out after mellow crab into the wind at the start of the flare.
Further bailout options include landing on the lower steps or lower road. These are on the list ahead of landing on the beach, but the above (Saddle, Upper Road and Gusto) options will be easier and safer.
Walker Launches and Walker Ridge
Walker launch is used on light to moderate days and works for most wind directions from NW to SW.
WSW and SW Days
Walker Ridge is the ridge that ascends to the south of launch. It faces to the southwest and works well on WSW and SW days. On such days, pilots work the lift along Walker ridge.
Soaring Walker Ridge is one of the best spots for new pilots to get comfortable flying at Mussel Rock. The pilots can get a feel for launching and landing at Mussel Rock while staying above the LZs and not above the surf. If a pilot cannot stay up, the entire plateau area is right below for plenty of landing options.
On lighter days, pilots can kite up the face of the main launch and launch from the cliff above the sloped launch to gain an extra 15′ or so of height. In moderate conditions, pilots can launch off the main launch and follow the ridge to the south.
Hazard: A spotter is recommended to check for a low pilot heading to the north when launching at Walker Slope Launch. Pilots have launched here when an approaching glider from the south was below the cliff (invisible to launching pilot) and this creates a very dangerous situation.
WNW and NW Days
Pilots can soar the steps area on moderate days. On light wind days, pilots will usually head around the corner in front of the large Westlake cliff to the north. On very light days, pilots with good ground handling skill will also kite up to the cliff area to gain the extra little bit to achieve soaring.
Hazard: When heading around the corner on a NW day, the old Highway 1 ledge is a rotor trigger. Angle around this, to the left of the corner, when heading to the front of the Westlake cliff.
Walker Launch, facing the corner
When venturing around the corner on a light day, the Old Hwy 1 is a bare minimum threshold to indicate if you are staying up. The corner is part of the ledge that was the old Highway 1. If you round this corner and are not above this road level and maintaining or climbing, you should turn back immediately and set up and keep enough altitude to land at any of the primary LZs (The Plateau Area, The Saddle, Upper Road or Gusto). If you continue and reach the first slide and are not ascending above the road, you should head back to ensure being able to reach one of the upper level landing areas.
Further north than the slides, the only bailout is the beach. On days when there is no beach, pilots should stay well above to road level north of the first slide.
View Looking North Past the Corner
Bailout LZs from Walker Launches:
Any of the upper LZs on the plateau are easy to reach from Walker Ridge.
When pilots attempt to go around the corner and soar the Westlake cliff face and need to bail, it is prudent to do so with enough height to make the upper LZs (The Plateau, Saddle or Upper Road).
If a mistake is made and altitude is not there to land somewhere in the upper LZs, then the other bailouts should be used (The Steps, Middle Road / Gusto and lastly, The Lowest Road).
The beach should be the final option only if the tide is low enough to make this suitable.
Jungle Launch is used by some pilots when the wind is SW. This launch is trickier than Walker in that the pilot is low enough to need to kite up a little to clear a ledge directly in front of the take off. This launch is more for P3 + pilots because of this.
Pilots launching at Jungle Launch fly out first and then soar to the south along Walker Ridge.
Bailout LZs from Jungle Launch:
Any of the upper LZs on the plateau are easy to reach from Jungle or Walker launches.
If a mistake is made and altitude is not there to land somewhere on the plateau, then the Middle Road/Gusto areas, The Steps and even the Lowest Road bailouts are there. The beach can be an option only if the tide is low enough to make this suitable.
Tomcat Launch works with winds from WSW to NW. Since the shallow sloped cliff mainly faces WNW – NW, winds with a north component (WNW and NW) are best. Pilots with more skill and experience at Mussel Rock will launch on WNW and NW days and attempt to either cross to The Steps area and soar up from there or sometimes jump all the way to the Westlake cliffs past the corner.
Hazard: On SW and WSW days, the wind passes over Mussel Rock and creates a rotor at Tomcat Launch. Launching and landing at Tomcat are not recommended when winds are from this direction and moderate to strong in velocity. On such days, just hike to Lemmings or Walker launch and avoid this.