23 January 2009

Hot Practice

After a long, but smooth, flight and a couple of hours drive we arrived last night in Valle. After a good night of much needed sleep we woke up to beautiful sunny weather, just as it is suposed to be! First thing to do was to move to Posada Doris, where we stayed last year, and which was much nicer than the place we had booked from home.
After the standard Valle breakfast we took a taxi to launch. Jouni is really serious about training for the X-Alps, so jumped out and jogged the last mile up the hill. At the launch we greeted many friends; there were some 60 pilots there. I also just managed to say hello top Heimo before he took off. He is visiting Valle this week as a "tourist". Most competition pilots waited till about 11:30 before taking off.
My plan was to fly a couple of hours and get used to the landscape, the strong conditions and to the abundance of gliders around me. The meteo wind was notherly which is opposed to the thermal induced southerlies so much turbulence was to be expected. It turned out not to be so bad, but I made sure to stay far from any tricky place.
After launch quickly gained height above the launch and then waited a bit for the other Finnish pilots. When I saw a couple of gliders getting up over the Mesa I started to work my way to Penon, Mesa and then onwards to the antennas. Near Magay was a bit low but then it worked really well and I reached the antennas more easily then I'd anticipated. I was a bit alone there and decided to wait a bit, slowly gaining more height. A couple of pilots dove over the ridge but seemed to go down very fast. Many others didn't quite fly to the antennas but turned back towards Maguay. I decided to try to make it to Gordo. And that actually went quite well. The clouds over the high plain were low but it all worked quite well. As I didn't want to tire myself tomuch I then turned North over the lake towards Valle and went to the Valle launch, which every now and then is a goal point. I boated a bit on the ridge there and then slowly let myself drift down to the landing zone. After some 2,5 hours itwas nice to pack the gear while sunbathing!
Ari landed almost at the same time, but Jouni flew quite much longer and landed a bit further away and then walked at least 10km. He wanted to train more "walking with glider" for the X-Alps.... Tomorrow we willhave the first official training day for the Worlds and I expect we' ll try to fly a task.

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