31 July 2008

Dutch Open - Day 6 - Task 6

Had a fantastic ride out today! 137km task

take off - Ron Richardson to my left

First turnpoint to the West of Chabre about 5k further on than Col St Jean, then to Pic de Bur and then to a turnpoint West of Sisteron in the valley.

It was an interesting start – most took the 2nd start gate – climbing to between 9 & 10,000ft which was cloudbase.

Lot of people got low on their way back from the first turnpoint, some went down. I managed to scrape up and then run the whole length of the Chabre ridge (just below the ridge) on three quarter VG at a speed of 60mph ground speed – very exhilarating as I was only a wing span off the trees. I was congratulated at the end by mother nature who gave me a 12.6-up climb to based.

base at 10,000ft

One glide straight across the valley to the ridge before Pic de Bur (can’t remember the name of it… it’s a paragliding site?) – with a bit of dolphin flying enroute - where I took a climb to around 9,500ft then I glided straight to Pic de Bur which anyone who has been there knows you go straight up! Nick Pain was there at 11,500ft – I pulled out at just over 10,000 and went on a glide to St Genis, via the paragliding mountain again which I took a climb at and went on a small detour to the ridge behind St Genis at 10,000ft. I then went on a glide to Chabre …. The ONLY mistake of the day! The closer I got I realised there was quite a strong westerly and by the time I got to Chabre the windsocks were blowing parallel with the mountain and a 20mph westerly wind was blowing. Oh well that was about to be the end of my day……….

I spent the next 15/20mins there with absolutely nothing and eventually flew off the end to the small ridge nr Ribier which is where I decked it and was soon followed by Ron Richardson.

Those that got into Goal flew down the middle of the valley later on in the day under clouds – no clouds when I was there! Some you win, some you lose.

Rumour has it that Malcolm Brown was in first again – the man is on fire – this could be 4 or 5 wins in a row for him.

Laragne town and take off

heading to turnpoint 1

Task 6 - 137km


30 July 2008

Dutch Open - Day 5 - Task 5

Lots in goal today so a feel good task.

Task 5 - 103km

The beginning of the task was really hard with pilots going down and scratching on the ridge – when I eventually took off it was still very scratchy on the ridge and I lost half an hour on the start time as I could not get up!

We headed North to the ridge opposite Aspres then North East to Pic de Bur then south to Hongrie and into Goal at Laragne Camping.

The wind was from the South and at Pic de Bur cloudbase was just over 10,000ft with lovely cumulus and very clear through the inversion.

Our Meet Head

We are all really hoping for a rest day as we are shattered and in need of some R&R – talk is we might get a rest day on Friday as the weather is on the turn.

Captain Jenny is one of two women flying the comp

29 July 2008

Dutch Open - Day 4 - Task 4

I am shattered! It was a very hard task today. I only know of 2 Brits that made it into goal ~ Malcolm Brown and Grant Crossingham.

We took off from Chabre and headed West to Col St Jean; North to a turnpoint in the foothills of Pic de Bur; the 3rd tp was on top of the Gache ridge (which I didn’t get) and then back into Goal at Laragne Camping.

We had quite a strong Southerly head wind and a few went down at the third turnpoint, me included, it was a turbulent and not at all pleasant place to be!

The Brits Pondering

The Dutch Plotting

The 'young' men Planning

Well done Rob - Task 3 Winner

Results - HERE

Alert! There was a robbery on the campsite last night and a Brit family have lost ‘everything’…… passports, cards, money…… the lot! A bag was taken whilst they were asleep in the caravan. We are all being extra vigilant keeping everything under lock and key now. What a sad world we live in!

28 July 2008

Dutch Open – Day 3 – Task 3

Well done to Malcolm Brown who won the day yesterday!

103km task today with a 24km entry start to a turnpoint to the West end of the ridge further than yesterday. The next turnpoint was to the west of Aspres and the next being at Beaumont and then goal at Laragne Camping.

Seems as though about 8 made goal and rumour has it that Miles and Ollie Kynaston – up and coming Brit pilots – were 1st and 2nd so well done young men!

The task today should have been easy but it seems there were a quite few that came unstuck, me included (I went down on the way to the last turnpoint). I didn’t take the route I originally planned before take off and should have done – gaggle suck.

I ended up taking a slightly different route coming back from Beaumont but didn’t make Chabre – not even with a 9,000ft cloudbase – I just got drilled on the glide all the way and ended at the bottom – amazing!

Nick who was our 'driver' for the day decided to fly part of the task but went down therefore I had a few hours to kill in a very pleasant field passing the time of day with the famer, his dogs and some chickens! I was even permitted to sit on the farmer’s seat - unfortunately, there was no beer for the bottle opener!

Farmer's seat with built in bottle opener - cool

My companion for 3hrs

The view from 'my' field

Forecast is for storms tomorrow – but there again they were forecast for today but never arrived!

27 July 2008

Dutch Open - Day 2 - Task 2

Task 1 - 94km

Another good punt around the valley today which was great fun - There is a good contingent of Brits back here and its great to be flying with them all again.

The wind was very light on take off to start with and some went down. The lift started off very weak, we had good climbs with cloud base around 8,500ft asl and occasionally up to 10,000ft asl with anywhere from 400ft per min climbs to 1,200ft per min climbs in places.

Think the results will be close - I know Bruce did the task in just under 2hrs and I was just over!

Disaster in the camping kitchen : the camping fridge got wet in the thunderstorms and it appears was the reason for the whole campsite being without electricity (ooops & sorry). I left it to dry out and came back to find an ants nest had moved in! Then to top it all…….. I ran out of gas halfway through cooking my meal and dropped it all on the floor – deep joy.

We had purple rain tonight ........

.......and Line Dancing

Dutch Open – Day 2

Briefing at 10am this morning – think we are going up to Chabre.

Dutch Open

Belgian Day 7 – Dutch Day 1 - Task 1 cancelled

As predicted, the day was cancelled due to thunderstorms.

I can’t believe I missed the prize giving – it was due to start at 9pm and I went over at five to and it was all over!


26 July 2008

Belgian Open – Day 7

Today is the last day of the Belgium Open and the first Day of the Dutch Open.

We have an early briefing this morning because there is a high risk of thunderstorms. Even so 9 o’clock does seems a little early to me especially as it was a late night last night. I was up till about 1am on the campsite enjoying the fantastic music from a group of 4 guitarists accompanied by Heather Mull on tambourine.


Belgian Open - Day 6 – Task 4

82.8km task from Chabre

Heading NE to turnpoint nr Aspres; then to Sisteron; then West to St Vincent; then back into goal at Laragne Camping.

Very pleasant fly around with a few clouds today along the way to help us – again the climbs were not fantastcally strong – 600ft per min av – cloud base started off at 8,500ft and towards end of task probably up to 10,000ft but there was no need to take a climb that high!

There were plenty in goal so all in all a good task.

RESULTS - The results are now up on the website – HERE

24 July 2008

Belgian Open - Day 5 - Task 3 - 102km

Nice Climb

102km task - 5 turnpoints – Goal at Laragne Camping

We took off from Aspres as the wind was forecast Westerly. Super lovely smooth takeoff with a nice grassy rigging area but the road up is horrendous (like the road to Chabre was pre tarmac). Four of us were in Nick’s van and our drive to take-off was interrupted by a shredded tyre – thankfully it was the only disaster of the day.

A bit of technical info about the flight: Average 400 ft a min climbs. A good climb was just over 600ft a min. Max climbs topping out at about 8000 ft ASL.

There was never a smooth glide – I was constantly fighting the glider to keep it in a straight line even though the winds were only between 6 to 10 mph between North and West – apart from final glide which was 13mph from the West and not a good goal direction……….

I cant tell you all the names of the turnpoints because I just follow arrows on my GPS and didn’t write the names down at the briefing. But for those of you that know the area quite well I’ve captured the route in pictures – you can find more of them HERE Unfortunately, some of the pics are at a funny angle due to the keel stinger rotating.

Turnpoint 1

Turnpoint 2

Dead ahead for turnpoint 3

Cruise Ridge

Basically – we headed South to the ridge behind St Genis to the first turnpoint; then we headed East to the second turnpoint on thingy wotsit ridge; then the third turnpoint was South on the Gauche ridge; then we headed back to turnpoint one near Aspres and then we came back to turnpoint two and then into Goal at Laragne Camping.

I just scraped in Goal in the West wind. I had to go around the trees on the far ridge and scraped in with no turns and a land! Not done that before, am usually too cautious! If we had a goal line as opposed to a goal circle I might have just landed on the line and on my ass!

I had a great flight (am still looking for those smooth glides though) and may have been the quickest by about 5 minutes (?); we will see when the scores come out tomorrow. For those of you asking - I don’t think there is a web link to the scores but will check tomorrow. If there isn’t I will post a photo of the printout (best I can do)!

It’s very cool here on the evenings and we have high cirrus. I’ve said this before but the weather in Europe seems strange at the moment. Some of the guys flew from Chabre today. Fabien Garing literally took off the South side and plummeted straight to the bottom landing field with not even a blip on his vario.

PS - Another broken arm yesterday! Bringing the total in this comp to 3.

23 July 2008

Belgian Open - Day 4 - Task 2

James - 0ur helper

We had a pleasant day today punting around the Laragne valley. The task was about 60k with 4 turnpoints on opposite sides of the valley.

The take off was very slow due to the light north wind and then no wind and no thermal gusts coming up either side. Eventually I got off Chabre on the south side at about 15.20 and climbed straight out above launch and to the start. The last was at 16.00 – I took the 15.45 start and went straight around the valley with no stops or transfers. I did the task in about 1hour 50 and fastest time so not too bad given the late start and very stable conditions early on in the day.

I took a few pics along the way looking down the left wing - one every 30 seconds so more than a few! Most are now deleted due to space issues on my mobile brick contometer.

PS - The outcome of the rough conditions in St Andre yesterday was 2 broken arms and worse a fractured vertebrae. Hope all get well soon.

At Sisteron

As pretty as a combat


Goal at Laragne Camping

22 July 2008

Belgian Open – Day 3 – Task 1

We headed off to St Andre as the forecast predicted no wind there! As it happened there was wind on take off and up to 20mph in the air – very St Andre!

A small 50k task was set with 3 turnpoints – goal was at the ‘new’ landing field.

I got as far as the 2nd turnpoint and decided to wind off 7,000ft and land as I had had enough of the crap air – it was v rough most of the time and I don't enjoy hitting the keel!

It sounds like 1 chap landed in some trees and might be hurt bad – he is in hospital now, lets hope all will be well.

BIG THANKS to Nicola for the retrieve today.

21 July 2008

Belgian Open - Day 2 - Cancelled

It's the second day and still no flying due to the wind today.

Amazing sky above the campsite before the rain came again!

This metal bird sculpture is on the campsite – you could climb into it and have a flap if you so wished.

We had a procession of horses and a great marching band come onto the campsite yesterday in the thunderstorms!

The temperature is dropping on an evening and it was cool last night – I had my sleeping bag zipped up for the first time!