Yesterday we had a stable, pretty difficult day with a 113 km task. I wanted to start early to take lead points to compensate for my speed and to be helped by others in the second half of the task.
While nobody wanted to start at the first start gate, I took off to a ridge north of the start, convinced that there would be decent thermals there. But I didn't find any when I got there. To make matters worse, got below ridge height and had to choose the east side of the ridge, which was in the lee of the westerly winds, because there were no landings on the west side of the ridge. To make it even worse, the first turnpoint was situated on the west side of the ridge, so I had to get higher to be able to cross it again.
When I already was pretty much convinced that I would have to land, I found my first weak thermal. I just allowed me to stay aloft. This continued for 20 minutes. Just maintaining height, not getting anywhere. Then things got better and I was able to start flying along the foothills of the ridge until Talarn, but never getting high enough to cross it. At Talarn, I suddenly had a 4 m/s thermal which took me just high enough to make it across the ridge. On the other side I got pretty low again, but eventually I found a nice thermal and got high (2500 m). I started the glide to the first turnpoint and saw that the valley north of the turnpoint was full of gliders. Many had taken the second start gate. I was first to round the turnpoint and headed for Talarn again, looking for my 4 m/s thermal to extend my lead. Major mistake. Talarn was a detour and I only found 1 m/s lift when I got there. The lead gaggle past me on the north, taking the direct route.
I could join the second gaggle and headed for the valley of Isona. Coming back from Isona I had a really close encounter with a vulture. It probably flew on the wave of my leading edge. So close! Beautiful.
I made goal in 12th position. I was slower than many others, but I knew I would have quite a lot of leading points. It resulted in 33rd position for the task with 94 leading points. Rob was right behind me in the standings, flying 20 minutes faster. So the leading points compensated for 20 mins flying. Not bad. The flight made me regain some places I had lost the day before. I'm now 43rd, it would be nice to make it back to the top 40.