25 January 2010

A turn or two too few

Another great day in Valle de Bravo, the first of the Monarca Open 2010. After a bit of expected hassle with transport and briefing on this first day we got into the air at noon. The task committee had planned a route of appprox. 65 km. Some 20 minutes before the start gate would open the sky became very crowded with all pilots trying to get every centimeter of altitude before the crossing to the Magay turnpoint. Like yesterday the conditions were blue, but seemed weaker and the inversion wasn't lifting as quick. From Magay we had to fly to the antennas. Many pilots dived into the area in front of the plateau, but I found a good thermal at Magay and decided to stay high. That worked out very well, I could fly on top of the ridge, taking two more good thermals. After the last one I was nicely high above the whole field, and could glide directly towards the next turnpoint: Santa Maria, quite far out in the valley. On the way encountered some light lift but as I was still above everybody else decided to continue to glide. With a kilometer or two to go I had caught up with the leaders, thanks to being able to fly a more direct line, and started to look for some good lift. To increase our chances I diverted slightly south from the others, but didn't encounter anything. Most pilots glided quickly to the slightly larger hills in the south, but that seemed for me just a bit too far. So I turned back towards the plateau expecting to find some lift above the smaller hills on the way. Unfortunately that didn't work, down low the air apparently simply was too stable. Mere minutes later I was grounded (track).
The pilots that made the other hills struggled but then got high again and could glide back to the Magay area and then continued over the plateau to the Quintanilla turnpoint. That seemed to have been another area where several pilots ended up too low. The ones that survived it could then fly back to Valle, via Iglesia. The score is not available yet, but I think some 30-40 pilots might have made goal.
When assessing my flight I cannot think of any other mistake then not using the bit of lift that I found on my glide to Santa Maria. Sometimes a couple of turns (in the lift) and 50 m of altitude can make all the difference....

Update: Hours later Finnish pilots Karoliina and Make arrive back in town. Karo patiently worked her way out of Santa Maria and made it up to the plateau before the thermals shut down for the day. As Make landed out in the Santa Maria area and Jyrki near Magay, Karo now leads the Finnish pack! Still no official results but I think some 35 pilots may have made it to goal.

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