Piedrahita Competition Report, 10 to 16 July 2005

Open Championships Piedrahita Overall (pdf)
Task 1 (pdf)
Task 2 (pdf)
Task 3 (pdf)
Task 4 (pdf)

Teams (pdf)
British Championships Overall (pdf)
Presentation Night

The week before the British open: The Dutch open had four good tasks from six days. One day was lost because of the wind direction on launch though it was the best looking day of them all.
Blue skies and a few cumulus, thermals both small and huge and some convergence thrown in. Mix them all together and the recipe for the biggest open of them all was set to simmer.

Day 1: Task 1.
The forecast for the day said wind from the North... never ideal in Piedrahita. A 91km race to goal around 6 (six) turnpoints was set to start at 13.10. The wind was picking up, half of the field were off dead quick, half got stuck by the increasing winds as the launch got closed and opened... everyone launched in the desired time.
The ride out to the corrals (TP1) was slow and buoyant, and the trip back a fair bit quicker. And so went the day; slow out and fast back, slower out and faster back.
To quote Ulric: "..the wind was definitely a factor today.."
Belgian Paul Schmit (Aircross Ultima3) crossed the line first, ahead of Adrian Thomas (Airwave Proto) and Russell Ogden (Ozone Proto).
32 pilots made goal in a hard fought, head-wind-in-every-direction, day. There were some unexpected lumps along the way and reserves were thrown by Arek Pomeranski, Peter Taylor and Frank Renesse; Arek actually had his reserve caught in his main and needed to cut his lines on one side to free it! The rescues were carried out seamlessly in Spanish time. No one was executed by helicopter!

Day 2: Task 2.
The forecast said it would be great: super light Northerlies, but the wind on launch made you think it could be wrong. A 102km race to goal via a turnpoint at Avila was set to open at 12:50 and start at 14:10, 30km from the turnpoint. Although strong the launch was fine for everyone and the day started... some going to over 3000m from launch and some grovelling most of the way to the pass. The lead gaggle were way up front, so much so that they had to go back 3km as they overshot the start gate before it opened (that'll learn them). So a huge number of pilots spread out on course, generally downwind gliding to turnpoint; 3500m and above (a little chilly). The way back was a different kettle of fish due to the North West wind pushing people to the southern mountains. The pass and the high ground was always going to be the crux, where knowledge and skill would win through (and luck)? Those that got the climbs kept pushing, and the racers pushed very fast. 43 pilots got to goal. The task winner was veteran Bob Drury (Gradient RSF), followed by Mali (Axis Mercury) and Cecilio (Gradient RSE). To quote Mark Watts ".. a good day, a long task but nearly as good as it gets.." he obviously wasn't flying in the headwind I was! Two reserves were thrown one landing harmlessly but high in the mountains and the other pushing too fast into goal and landed on a roof!

Day 3: Task 3:
A 75km race to goal was set around 3 turnpoints with a forecast of NE and NW winds. Only a couple of pilots launched when the window opened as the day looked stable and calm. Gradually the pilots flopped off the hill and most were greeted with good smooth climbs to over 3700m! The race was on as we pushed on towards Candelario. Some stayed very high and got very cold whilst some stayed low and battled with the heat. The North wind seemed to blow lightly at all levels. The day was fairly classic with strong climbs and seemingly stronger sink. The secret was to guess where the convergence would move to next.
70 pilots made goal with a spread of nearly 4 hours. Spanish pilot Ivan Colas (Gradient Avax RSF) was fastest in an incredible 97 minutes. Next was Borja Rodriguez (Gin Boomerang 4) then Kelly Farina (Airwave Magic FR2). John Ellison and Cecilio Valenzuela chucked their washing as they hit wormholes. John broke a bone and Cecilio was just bruised.

Day 4: Task 4:
The clouds started popping at 9:00 and the forecast was for a very strong day. A 119km race to goal around one turn point was set to open at 13:05 and start at 14:00. The clouds looked huge and threatening but had shadowed launch long enough to kill all of the thermals and it was dead calm. The pilots launched in two groups separated by about an hour as the wind came over the back for long periods of time. The first thermal eluded many but those who got it went to the clouds far slower than predicted. So the day went on with pilots dropping out on route. Only 13 got to goal the first being Russell Ogden (Ozone Proto) followed by Mali (Axis Mercury) and Ezven (Gradient Avax RSF). The task threatened to be cancelled for rain on course but they were only short lived showers.
The reserve count increased as Maryna Strydom got in an aweful mess trying to B line out of cloud and Pascal Vandijk plummeted into a gorge and miraculously survived a terrible landing.

Day 5:
After a great night drinking to the weather gods at the Panera we nursed our hangovers at home. The wind was howling over the back and the day was cancelled without any re-briefs whatsoever!

Day 6:
The weather forecast was right again, insofaras it was going to be windy. We had a traditional re-brief at 11:30 before the day was cancelled.

Day 7:
Another day of srong winds and the same as yesterday. At 11:30 the competition was announced officially over.
The presentation was to be at 10:00 at the swimming pool.

See the presentation night.

report by Mark Graham