Cup 2007 : Report
Steve Nash reports on the Blériot Cup from Corrèze, France.
The Blériot Cup for 2007 is being held in France’s Masiff Central, in an area south of Limoges. The competition base is a small town called Treignac, where we have been made very welcome as the visiting team. The competition will see both paragliders and hang gliders from Great Britain and France battle it out in the host country’s chosen location.
The Victorious Blériot team 2007
||PG Blériot team 2007: (l - r) John Ellison, Innes Powell (captain) Mark Leavesley, Richard Bungay (reserve), Steve Nash, Jon Chambers, Alan (team gofer!), Mark Hayman
Day 1: Task 1. Monday 3 September
The day started with all the paraglider pilots and hang gliders pilots from both countries meeting up at the northern side of the Suc au May site, about 7km south of Treignac.
A 32.8km task was set taking us on a south east track to a place called Marcillac-la-Croisille. The wind seemed to be quite strong right up to the launch window opening time at 14:15, but fortunately it dropped off as the window open announcement was called.
There was no-one in the air, so after about 5 minutes Calvo (Team Manager) told Richard Bungay (Reserve) to launch to show what the air was doing. He went up nicely, so John Ellison and Mark Hayman were dispatched off the hill. At this point none of the French team had launched. As all the British team were going up, the French launched some of their pilots in response. Pretty soon all the pilots from both teams were in the sky. The lift conditions varied from reasonable 2m/s climbs to weak zeros. About 30 minutes after we had launched the hang gliders followed, which made staying up in the cyclical lift even more interesting. The start cylinder was only 3 km to the west of take off, but it proved quite difficult to get the timing just right to ensure that you didn’t land at the bottom of the main hill coming back for top-up lift (and some did, but as it was multiple attempt they could drive back up and have another go!).
Eventually three of the British pilots (Richard Bungay, John Ellison and Mark Leavesley) were in a good position to leave the hill and go in the direction of goal. The remaining British pilots were left marking their French competitors, which got increasingly harder in weakening conditions. Richard, John & Mark did an excellent job in flying further than any of the French team, with John landing just 12km from goal. The rest of the field from both sides were scattered between them and take-off.
Two of the British hang gliding team flew further than their French competitors, so they did equally as well.
A very prolonged scoring session continued long into the night (problems with the French system) so the exact scores are unknown at the moment. However it proved to be a superb way for the British Team to start the competition, achieved through great teamwork and intelligent leadership decisions.
Shortly after the 18:00 land by time it started to rain, as forecast. We are all hoping the forecast for tomorrow which indicates more sun and light cumulus will allow us to fly with more reliable lift.
The British PG team finish the day 140 points ahead.
Day 2: No Task. Tuesday 4 September
The weather God's came to play today, but along with the sun & fluffy cumulus, they brought 80km/hour winds to tease the teams while they gazed longingly at the cloudstreet disappearing into the distance. The PG teams went to check out Bros (not the band!), a site in the Dordogne valley, and waited out the day indulging in fun & frolics on the hill. It gave team UK a chance to test drive their new kit - so team 'mellow yellow' now become a more respectable Team Blériot.
We hope for the wind to drop tomorrow......
Day 3: No Task: Wednesday 5 September
Despite waking to a beautiful blue sky, it was still windy. As the morning went by, the wind increased and we were forced to sit around at the hotel until 14:00. Then we got a call from the hang glider pilots who had gone to the Bros flying site (same place as we went yesterday), they said it was flyable and they were about to set a task. The British and French Paragliding teams were scrambled and we set off for the same location.
By the time that we arrived, the hang gliders were in the air en route to Saint-Chamarand, 55km away. A handful of the paraglider pilots got their gear out, whilst the wind slowly increased. After another 30 minutes it was definitely unflyable for the paragliders.
Having watched a high performance Atos hang glider almost stall out of the sky, the chances of us flying the set task were becoming slimmer. Eventually at 18:00 with the trees swaying wildly, the day was canned, again!
When we arrived back at the hotel, we were greeted with the great news that the British Hang Gliding team had got two pilots in goal and had won the day. This further increases the British lead over the French; we will know the exact scores in the morning.
The wind is still forecast to be strong for the next few days, so crossed fingers the Meteo men have got it wrong!
Day 4: No Task Thursday 6 September
We drove north for 2 hours to a flying site called Site du Maupuy near Gueret. As it is much lower than the Bros take off, the hope was that the wind would be lighter. The first challenge was to find the launch site, as know one knew exactly where it was. After 30 minutes of searching around in the densely forested hill, we found a clearing in the trees that faced north east, but the wind was blowing from the North. After some more searching, we located the north take off, but the wind was still too strong. One of the French paraglider pilots did take off on his Gin Boomerang 4; he did not stay long in the air before almost stalling-in trying to land back on the top
To fill the time whilst hoping that the wind would drop, we had a game of volleyball with the French Team, it was scored as a draw.
We drove back the two hours to Treignac, where the French have invited us to their evening barbeque.
The hang gliders spent the day at Bros again, they did not fly!
Mark & Innes auditioned for the 'Ministry of Funny Walks' while Miles Kynaston tried gamely to increase the UK HG lead in the competition.
Another hill, another windsock - same wind!
Day 5: No Task Friday 7 September
Another day spent on the hill waiting for the wind to drop - but once again it didn't and the day was canned.
Only 1 day left..... The combined British teams are now 808 points ahead of the French thanks to some excellent flying by the HG boys on day 3.
Saturday 8th September
Both the paraglider and hang glider teams went back to the Bros flying
site, where there was nill wind! A 35km task was set to the south west,
along the Dordogne valley. The sky was very inverted, with very little
thermal activity. The French paragliding team decided to sit and wait for
the conditions to improve. The British team had planned to cover their
every move, so if they sat waiting, so did we. After a couple of launch
window extensions, they were left with only 12 minutes to launch. By this
time the wind was flowing over the back of the hill to add to the pressure.
After a couple of failed launches, 3 of the French and 2 of the Brits
launched on a desperate attempt to find lift. 15 minutes later they were
all on the ground, so it was left to the hang gliders from both sides to
settle the day. They launched quickly in nill wind, but ended up with 'sled
rides' to the landing field.
This meant that the Brits had retained the Bleriot for a fourth year in a
Vive la Grande-Bretagne !