17 August 2009

British Open at St. Jean, Task 1

Yesterday the task committee of the British Open planned a fast route of 59.9 km. The conditions were a bit less strong than the previous two days. Also the air was a bit drier so there was less shadow caused by clouds. With good thermals over the main Dourmillouse ridge and bands of convergence in the valley this allowed for a fast race.

Some 30 or so pilots timed their start right, and quickly took the first turnpoint over the landing field in front of the ridge. Some then went right back to the ridge to climb back to the ceiling of about 3500 m, others glided straight to the next turnpoint which was at a corner of the ridge, some 10 km south. That last group got there first but very low and several bombed out soon after. Those pilots that had tanked up altitudenow easily took the turn point and could glide almost straight to the next turnpoint, over a lower mountain in the valley. This was a second place that saw many arrive low. It was possible to climb out of the area but it could be slow. Once high again the rest was fairly easy: out to the Morgan on the other side of the lake, get high again there, and then glide to Seyne and from there back to the landing field. With the goal at 1300 m and some sink along the way it was important to start the last glide with a bit of extra altitude, or to take a small detour over the foothills, several pilots came a few km short.

Ozone's Luc Armand won the day in an impressive 1:39 hours closely followed by other French (local) pilots. A bigger group arrived some 15 minutes later and then slower pilots trickled in.

I myself had a good start but took an alternative route to the 3rd turnpoint; instead of going back to the ridge I followed a cloud line accross the valley and only then turned north for an easier glide with less of a headwind. As such the idea was not bad, but it made me fly alone. I now ended up a bit behind others that had taken the simple approach as a group. From there on I managed to fly the remainder quite quickly, but slowed down a bit on the last leg to ensure arrival in goal (see track). I needed 2:25 good for a 44th place.

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