31 January 2011

2011 Pre PWC Superfinal in Valle de Bravo




The final results are here:

http://www.monarcaparaglidingopen.com/files/Overall_2011.pdf

Congratulations to Raul Penso, Marko Hrgetic, and Yassen Savov!

Raul Penso celebrates his win
In the money
Task 6: Despite all the rain the night before, the morning brought hope of a last task. The task committee (Len, Ronny, Alejandra) created a clever 60 km task that would mitigate the strong wind (35 km/h), large cumuli clouds, and low base (2900 m).

1. 5 km exit start around the Piano at 12:15, 12:30, 12:45: 1:00
2. 2 km from Divisadero
3. 4 km from La Pila
4. 500m from Despegue
5. ESS 2 km around La Torre
6. Goal at 500 m around La Torre

XC Playground
I took the first start with Jan Hassen and a few others. After crossing the gap I noticed Yassen 500 m to my left and flying with lots of bar. I flew with as much bar as I could in the turbulence but Yassen gradually moved forward until he was about 1.5 km ahead. On the glide out into the valley to get La Pila we were getting a 10:1 against the wind until the last 1 km when we found some memorable sink. We skipped Tres Reyes on the way back to launch but the glide was dodgy. I didn't quite clear the shaded wall on the other side of the gap and had to fly around. Yassen glided cleanly through this section. I glided down to 200 m at Espina and had to fly within metres of the rocks to climb out and head to launch, the last turnpoint. I saw Yassen leave on what probably was final glide when I was near base over Espina. Now there was a swarm of ten pilots just above me.

My new R10.2
We barred at base to the last turnpoint and back towards El Penon but although being at base we weren't very high over the plateau. The gaggle hesitated so I left on final.. a few minutes later I looked back and the whole gaggle was less than 1 km behind. I had my mind on a bump at the end of the plateau that was on course line and I was pretty confident of reaching the base of it with my height. The rest of the gaggle veered right to a closer bump, except for one of the Norwegians, who came with me. We made it to the bump but at only 2-3 tree heights above the landable field below. It wasn't smooth either. We must have looked like we were doing really awful syncro acro as we swung in and out of gaps in the trees grabbing scraps of lift in the strong wind, to take us up the 100 m we needed to clear the plateau. I made it to the top but the glide to La Torre was doubtful but I just left, feeling confident that I'd find lift along the way. The Norwegian stayed. The shade, downslope wind, and sink as I left on glide was demoralizing. At least I was going downwind. Hit a thermal did a turn, continued, and made goal fairly comfortably.

El Penon
Yassen won his third task today! Marko was second, I believe. I think I was 5th in. The final results for the top ten are not available yet but Raul should still win the comp, despite reaching goal somewhat later.

Task 5: There was a lot of cloud around and wind lines on the lake early in the morning but we all went to launch anyways. It rained briefly, twice, making pilots rush to move their gliders under the tents.

Pine
Free flying pilots were staying up but not getting very high so a 42 km task was called, which involved some zig zagging across the plateau, ideally in convergence, before ending at goal in town.

I launched early with Len Szafaryn and Joerg Ewald. Len launched with a line-over but was able to manage it and land again among some small pine trees at the bottom of launch. He was fine and relaunched some time later.

Cloudbase was around 3100 m and I was expecting it to be a 1-hour task but the strong wind complicated things. The most dramatic part of the flight was when the lead gaggle was flushed downslope into the main valley to Valle while attempting to complete the first headwind leg. Seven of us bailed downwind with 70 km/h groundspeed into the valley that leads behind town, ie. behind the Torre launch. We hit what must have been an invisible dust devil at 100-150 m and this was when things became intense. Our gliders started deforming as we approached it and then -wham- you had to turn tightly and keep your wing open. I must have been pulling 2Gs to stay inside this thing but we were averaging 3.5 m/s. Raul Penso was at my height but somehow didn't connect with it quickly enough. I did one turn and saw that he wasn't in it yet and then our separation increased quickly. Marko Hrgetic had arrived slightly lower and was now with Raul. I looked up and saw Jan Hassen and Rolf Dale just above me. When we hit base we were 4 km behind the Torre launch! I later found out that Raul had landed below us.

It took some time to get upwind from behind town to reach Iglesia. I was alone by this time and instead of flying the courseline I flew back toward town to get under the clouds and moved upwind along the east side of the plateau towards the last and upwind turnpoint. From near base I went on final glide from 4 km before the last turnpoint. The last 2 kms towards and away from the turnpoint was through rain. My glider behaved, though.

I saw Yassen leave on final 20 min before me and while on final I noticed a red R10 (Ole Ronneberg) a few minutes ahead. Three pilots made goal and Yassen won his second task in a row!

Valle at night
Task 4: Cancelled due to wind and turbulence. This was the first task cancelled in 10 years. The sky was definitely industrial.. some pilots called Level 3, others called Level 2, including myself.

I was behind Yassen when his glider imploded while thermalling in a rough one. We all cheered when it opened again. The middle of the glider disappeared and the glider taco-ed forward, with the wing tips hitting each other. The glider opened again and he was facing the wrong way.. he untwisted and came back into the thermal.

When the task was cancelled, most of us landed at the lake in town. Two days left.

In lieu of flying I learned how to make a German 'dirty' beer in Mexico

Task 3: A new turnpoint format was used today. In the middle of the course we had a turnpoint that had to be reached 3 times. The first time at 500 m, then 6 km, then 500 m. You can go any direction to reach the entry turnpoint at 6 km.
Lord PWC Xavier Murillo's castle
The 72 km course started with the usual 5 km exit start at 12:30 pm and everyone positioned early over the 'mesa'. The first turnpont was Divisadero with a 2 km radius, then a 4 km radius on a turnpoint out in the valley to the south. It was fun to fly into this area, finally. Then the triple turnpoint mentioned above was a few kms behind launch. This leg created the most confusion with pilots choosing one of at least three routes to get to this hill behind launch.

Skimming the grass at goal
Yassen Savov went straight over the plateau, Len Szafaryn and some other Mantras glided towards launch. Raul Penso took a line in between. I was a little lower and glided into the north side of the 'G Spot'. It was just like the 'G Spot', but in the lee. You can imagine how pleasant it was. As I glided into the 'V' of vertical rock, with little Jurassic trees clinging to the side I saw a blue R10.2 land at the base. Another blue R10.2 was drifting away along a crosswind slope in something light. I went deep at a wingspan from the cliffs and hit a 5 m/s that pinballed me up over the mesa. I remember my head being knocked back by the strength of the thermal and the cliff speeding down below me. I glanced up and just above me was Raul Penso. Later he told how he aborted his glide over the plateau and narrowly cleared the trees over the mesa into the 'G Spot', above me.

I narrowly avoided a water landing after my grass skimming stunt
We climbed out together and continued on course into obvious convergence. Raul hit the bar and refused to turn for the rest of the course. I was watching and tried to keep up but I couldn't hold as much bar. I didn't turn either for the last 2 turnpoints and 20 km.

Yassen Savov won the day and Raul Penso was second.

Peace in goal
Task 2: Today we stayed mostly over the plateau and raced a 63 km task with 5 turnpoints. There was a prediction for 100% cirrus in the afternoon but in the end only about 60% materialized. This was a good thing. Winds were lighter.. southwest at 15 km/h, perhaps. The shaded areas were soft and moved around the course as the cirrus clouds changed shape and moved. This made the flight very technical.

Most of the lead gaggle landed close to each other about 2/3 along the course in a shaded lee area but Raul Penso managed to keep a good position through the difficult parts and won the task again!

Today was smoother in general, with the exception of one lee thermal where at any one time 2-3 pilots where taking whacks. I heard on the radio that there was another reserve deployment today.

Church
Task 1: A typical task apparently. I don't know where we went.. just followed my instruments. Everyone seems to know the name of every bump here, but I don't. It was strong and rough with at least one reserve deployment and one midair. The West/South wind was perhaps stronger than expected, making the straight upwind leg challenging.

I was saved from landing so low that I still do not believe it, or understand it. When I am going to sleep tonight I will need to give the whole event some thought. In nearly 20 years of flying I have never escaped an outlanding so dramatically. I'll go over the details later but, anyways, I made goal. My final glide to the lake LZ was tense too.. I'm already trying to forget it.

Yassen and I compare our low save stories in goal
Raul Penso won the day, followed by Marko Hrgetic, then myself, then Yassen Savov and a Norwegian pilot with a R10.2 in Norway colours.. so I'm assuming. We had lots of glider disappearing act stories to tell and the Sol beer helped us tell the stories while smiling, rather than sweating.

Valle de Bravo sunset
The competition website:

http://www.monarcaparaglidingopen.com/?s=home

This is my SPOT share page:

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0pZ33xS3aqlxQ3cys03qcHkIaCmyrCS5P

[VLOG] A Walk in the Garden II

Do we need a reason to fly?