Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2010 Europeans, task 2

Driving up the mountain yesterday, we saw a thick inversion layer and we feared it would really be difficult to get up from the ridge. The task committee clearly also feared the stability and set a 90 km task. Rather short for a European championship, but I really had my doubts whether it was possible on such a stable day.

We all knew the start was gowing to be crowded. Pretty weak, sometimes broken thermals and 90 pilots fighting to get up. I started when about 50 pilots were in the air. Quite a view to see almost all of them circle in the same thermal. I took me quite a while before I found a decent thermal which took me high enough to start. I didn't want to wait another 22 mins until the next starting gate, so I started the race with an 8 minute 'penalty'. But it was good enough to be able to get away.
The first part of the course went well. I was catching up people because I could see them thermal ahead of me. Blay showed me a very nice 3.5 m/s thermal and thermalling up with him at the same altitude was really, really synchronized. And hey, I didn't climb slower than one of the best :-)
After the first turnpoint, I made the wrong decision of trying to follow ridges to speed up the pace. I left Blay and Wolfgang 'Wolfi' Siess because I thought they were taking too much risks trying to go fast and probably low later on. 2 mins later I saw them climbing very fast, but I didn't want to take the risk to leave my thermal at that moment to join them. Crucial mistake, they went up to 3050m and basically glided into goal from there. I got low on the other hand and survived on the ridge I followed but lost more than half an hour on them.
Wolfi got 3rd place into goal, I got 56th position. Damn... But it was a really good feeling to be on goal on a day where I had my doubts whether I would get anywhere. Spain is definitely different from Belgium ;-)
BTW, check out Wolfi's videos. They're pretty spectacular!

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