29 January 2010

Crazy Days

Days 4 and 5 of the Monarca Open 2010 have been very strange indeed. On Thursday morning we had a sunny briefing (picture above) where we were told that overdevelopment (too many, big, clouds) was to be expected especially over the Toluca plateau. Hence a task was set that kept us in front of the launch area. Before the launch window was opened the sun was blocked by overcast and it was clear that it would be a difficult day. I launched early and managed to slowly work my way up and to the edge of the start cylinder, but then sank out and had to start all over again. Amazingly it was possible to get up under the completely grey skies. After the start the field slowly worked its way to the end of Espina, which was the place to get high before starting the glide into the valley towards the Diente waypoint. From there it was southwards to a new turnpoint, Sur. Only a few pilots managed to get there and a little bit back. Many landed out even before the start and another bunch at a couple of km south of Diente. That was where I landed (track) whereas a bunch of gliders that were only 20 meters above me managed to work their way up and got close to Sur. I'd flown (only) 15 km in 2:40 hours. I decided to walk back to the main road which was an interesting 2 hour hike along canyons, over hills and through forests. But then I quickly got a ride back to Valle where we enjoyed a stunning sunset.

Today it looked like we would have another weak day, and a short task was set that would keep us out of the canyons in the valley but close the plateau instead. And indeed, the free flyers seemed to have even more difficulty to stay aloft then yesterday. However, this time around conditions improved a lot once the launch window was open, despite a persistent thin layer of overcast clouds. Around start time at an early 12:40 a large group was very high and dived towards Espina to continue towards the antennas at Divisadero. The leading group went far down into the foothills whereas others decided to stay high above the edge of the plateau. We then went back towards the launch area. It was important to be high before crossing the valley so that one could fly right back to the "crazy thermal" or to the Penon rock. To me it seemed that there was wave in the area as some lines were so much betters than others. Once back in the Penon area it was easy to complete the course, via the launch to Espina and then to Valle. The fastest pilot completed the 53 km speed section in an incredible 1:20. I needed 1:48 which was good for a 29th place (track).

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