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Riding the Wind
*Disclaimer*: I am trying to avoid in depth discussion of physics and aerodynamics here and trying to explain this in a simplified manner. I apologize in advance to those in the fields of physics and aerodynamics if my explanations are not quite perfect.
A lot of players struggle while playing with the wind. A common solution for many players is to throw fast, low profile, overstable discs and attempt to carve through the effects of wind on disc flight. However, this limits shot options and rarely takes advantage of the potential benefits you can gain from the aid of the wind nor avoids many of the negative wind effects that can happen. The key is to analyze and understand what the wind will do to the disc when it hits it from varying angles. With this knowledge and some practice/experimentation you can learn to throw shots that will ride the wind rather than battle it.
Before I get too in depth I will give some abbreviations for wind direction that will hopefully make this more readable. All directions will assume a RHBH throw. For RHFH or LHBH reverse the directions of the fade and turn.
HW = Headwind
TW = Tailwind
R-L = Right to Left Wind
L-R = Left to Right Wind
R-L/HW = Diagonal Headwind that is Blowing from Right to Left
If the wind hits the top of the disc on its nose (leading edge), it will press the nose downwards. This will reduce lift and cause the disc to fly more understable. Some situations where this occurs are: throwing straight into a HW, turning a disc over into a R-L or R-L/HW, and fading a disc into a L-R or L-R/HW.
If the wind bottom of the disc on its nose, it will lift the nose upwards. The result will be increased lift and the disc will fly more overstable. Some situations where this occurs are: throwing nose up into a HW, pushing an anhyzer left into a L-R or L-R/HW, and pulling a hyzer to the right into a R-L or R-L/HW.
If the wind hits the bottom of the disc on its tail (trailing edge), behavior is a bit more complicated. One major factor is that tail wind affects the air pocket below the disc causing the disc to drop and fly more overstable (if the disc is not turned over). However, if caught correctly, a wind that hits the bottom of the disc on its tail can also lift the tail (which subsequently lowers the nose) and push the disc like a sail and help the disc maintain a higher speed for a longer period of time. Catching the wind in this manner will prolong the disc’s fade if it has been turned or exaggerate a disc’s fade if caught during the end of the flight. Some situations where this occurs are: throwing a nose down shot with a TW, turning a disc over with a L-R or L-R/TW, and fading a disc with a R-L or R-L/TW.
If the wind hits the bottom of the top of the disc on its tail, various things will occur. A tail wind with a nose up throw will affect the air pocket below the disc and cause it to drop faster. The wind will also press the tail down and raise the nose, decelerating the disc faster. Lastly, the “sail” behavior will delay the fade characteristics of the disc but also accelerate the disc if it skips. Sine situations where this occurs are: throwing a nose up shot with a TW, pushing an anhyzer to the left with a R-L or R-L/TW, and pulling a hyzer to the right with a L-R or L-R/TW.
With those bases covered, it is easier to develop some better ideas for shot and disc selection during windy days. The answers are in the adjustments in height/trajectory, hyzer/anhyzer angles, and disc stability to counter the negative effects of wind and work with the positives.
1) Turning a disc over with a R-L/TW so that you can catch the wind during the flex for an extra forward push.
2) Throwing anhyzer and higher with a L-R/TW so that you catch the wind early and ride it for a longer flight.
3) Throwing hyzer straight outwards and with a little extra height into a HW and letting the wind help flatten the disc. The extra height is to give the disc enough time to fade back if it does get turned over.
4) Throwing higher with anhyzer (or an understable disc) when throwing with a TW.
5) Compensate for the wind push on a hyzer shot during the fade with a R-L by aiming further to the right and/or throwing a disc that fades less.