04 June 2008

Over the plains

Today the task in the British Open was to fly 75 km over the plains. The previous days were characterized by over development over the mountains, with rain showers in the afternoon. Hence it was a logical decision to try a task out into the plains to the south.
The task was changed once before the launch was opened but due to a clear headwind and a more organized take-off procedure all 100 pilots were in the air earlier than before. The sky look good with plenty of nice cumulus clouds, but over the mountain the now familiar dark monsters were already building up. After the start time a bunch started gliding southwards, while many were still working their way up close to the launch.
The field spread out quite quickly; I myself took a route close along the lower hills to the east which worked quite well. Over the plains the thermals were weaker and at times not well defined. Combined with a bit of cross- and head wind lower down the going was a bit slow. Typically small groups of gliders that got a good thermal would rise to over 2000 m and then overtake a lower struggling crowd. Those would then hit something and overtake the overtakers. The bottom of the large shallow valley was a tricky area to cross. Many were grounded close to the lake and most others had to work for a long time to get out of it again.
I'd gotten a very nice strong thermal a bit before the lake and our group glided out towards the lake, but spread out. I took the east-most route which looked promising, but I ended up a bit alone there. Eventually got up quite well there, but the pilots that flew along the western edge of the lake got up quicker and earlier. From there on flying to goal was fairly straightforward; essentially hopping from thermal to thermal along cloudlines and along a ridge of smaller hills (see track). The fastest pilots made goal in approx. 2.5 hours, I managed to get there just before 3 hours, in 24th place.

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