Thursday, July 28, 2011

2011 Worlds, Day 7, Task 2

We finally had another task on day 7 (Tuesday, 26th). It was a very interesting task. We headed off south first in real racing conditions. Fast climbs, fast glides. Then we had to head north past the windmills, where we had a turnpoint. I was a little slow on the return and to make things worse, I flew 2,5 km past the turnpoint at the windmills... I was very upset about making this mistake as I thought it ruined any chances for me that day. But, while flying further to the north, I got an interesting line and I caught up with the second gaggle. I left the gaggle early, pushing for the most north turnpoint, which was covered in shade, hoping that I could glide back before the whole valley shut down. The opposite happened. I would not have been able to glide back, but after some surviving on the Gubbio ridge, a few spots a sun came through and everybody joined in a few very dense, low thermals. At one point, I was climbing faster in the middle of two gaggles and soon both thermals converged, causing both gaggles to collide. That was the most dense, chaotic traffic I have ever flown in.
From then on, about 70 gliders were close together and it ended with a 29 km glide on the edge of the rain, with an 18:1 glide ratio at 65 km/h on average. I even had to burn off some altitude in the end, speeding up to 110 km/h on a day where everything was overcast and rain was coming our way.
The glide into goal was probably one the most dense ever in hang gliding. People like Jonny Durand and Vicky Cain said they had never seen anything like that before. I heard that 40 gliders arrived within a minute of each other. I was in the middle of that pack, placing 28th. Much better than expected after the errors early in the task.
Johan Marien, a Belgian pilot flying his 3rd flight on a Spyder was having his first flight on Monte Cucco. He was 100 m above the landing field when the whole pack zoomed in. He couldn't believe his eyes. When I spotted the Spyder on final glide, I thought "he's in for a surprise" :-) Other pilots flying higher above Cucco also witnessed the arrival and had goose bumps, just like many spectators on the ground. It's a shame a haven't found any good photo or video footage of it. Seems that everybody just watched and nobody recorded it...

Happy to be in goal pretty fast:

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