Friday, July 29, 2016

2016 Euros, Day 10, Task 7

Task 7 was a 120 km task around the valley, dodging the overdevelopment (OD) areas in the mountains around the valley. The OD started soon, while we were waiting under a big dark cloud to start the race. The start gate shouldn't have been any later...

We all flew across the first gap in the mountains and found a turbulent lee-side thermal on the NE corner of the mountain N of Bitola. I decided to try the SW flank of the mountain as soon as I would be able to cross the ridge. Well, that really got me in some turbulence! It took a minute of searching before I hit a turbulent 5 m/s monster. I never gripped my speed bar that hard, but it ripped me up to cloudbase in no time. What an incredible sight to see the mountain fall away from you like that. I was impressed.

This thermal put me in the lead and we crossed the blue sky above the valley. The other side had nice clouds which were surely going to OD later on. The gaggle assembled in the next thermal and we raced to the North turnpoint. At this point, I decided to gamble for task victory. The lead gaggle continued deep into the turnpoint to get the climb under the next cloud, while I immediately turned around. Well, it didn't work. I didn't find the strong thermal I needed and went into 'bring it home' mode after that. Still, arriving 10th, 3 minutes after the leaders is a nice result and it puts me in 24th overall. So maybe, top 20 is still reachable...

Today is going to be the title decider. Italians Alex Ploner and Christian Ciech are only separated by 13 points, with a 100 point advantage on Swiss guy Peter Neuenschwander. Will the two World Champions battle each other and risk the Swiss to run away with it? Probably not, since the Italians have been unbeatable as a team. Anyway, let's celebrate hang gliding today and have a great task! See ya!

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