St Andre Competition Report

The third round of the British Championships was held in St Andre from 16th to 22nd September 2007

This competition was combined with the Dutch and the Belgian Opens. All competitors were competing individually for the open title; but each nation had a separate championship ranking for their national championship.

Day 1: Sunday, Task cancelled.

The day was forecast to be very unstable, but the competitors went to the Chavlet take-off and a short, 40K task was set in the hope that it could be completed before the overdevelopment.

In the event, it became clear that there would be insufficient time to complete the task and the day was cencelled before the window was opened.

An hour after the task was cancelled, rain was reported at two of the turnpoints.

Day 2: Monday, Task 1. A 53.5km race to goal

Task 1 results all pilots

Strong winds were forecast for later in the day, so a 53.5K race to goal was called with a goal in St Andre

The window was opened at 12:15 and light conditions on launch made things difficult before the start gate opened at 13:00. The first turnpoint proved to be the first crux of the task with 40 pilots landing within 5K of this turnpoint.

Conditions improved as pilots went further around the course and 44 of the 47 pilots who got to the halfway mark made goal.

The winner was Mark Watts on an Axispara Mercury, in a time of 2:00:06.

Here is Tom Payne's daily report:

A 53km FAI triangle race to goal was set, with window open at 1215 and the start near the antennas at 1300. The start ridge was working, but was weak at times with an inversion at 2100m keeping the field close together. This lid on the thermals was to remain for most of the race, with the weak and broken lift tricky to work in the large gaggles.

After a couple of hours the inversion broke and more solid climbs lifted the pilots to 2500m for a long glide race over the lake, out to the final turnpoint and back to goal. About 40 pilots made it round, with many others falling around the first turnpoint.

Day 3: Tuesday, cancelled.

The forecast was for strong winds. They arrived and the day was cancelled at 10:30.

Day 4: Wednesday, Task 2. A 71.4km race to goal

Task 2 results all pilots

A local task of 71.5K around 4 turnpoints was set, to avoid strong winds to the north west of the area.

34 pilots landed before the second turnpoint, but strong conditions took most of the rest of the field to within 5K of the last turnpoint on the top of the Maurel.

A strong north westerly wind made this turnpoint difficult to achieve for pilots approaching from the south east and 30 pilots landed within 2K of the turnpoint.

57 pilots made goal, the winner was Jamie Messenger, on an Ozone Mantra R07 in a time of 2:08:11.

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Tom Payne's daily report:

Another cracking day today. A 71km triangle task was set, much like Monday's but just a bit bigger. A perfect start under a newly formed cloud on the start line then screaming climbs up to 5m/s+ average (10m/s peak), convergence lines, it all made for full on mountain racing. Jamie Messenger was first in, just 50m ahead of Craig Morgan.

Unfortunately a couple of pilots ended up in trees (those who took a direct line for the final turnpoint had a sinky glide and ended up in the lee), and another pilot stalled his glider in a low turn over the landing field, breaking his elbow.

I raced around with the lead gaggle, but messed up at the end: a poor choice of line put me in the lee before the final turnpoint, which I managed to take in a leeside thermal, but then left for goal with 5:1 and landed 80m short of the goal line. Doh!

Day 5: Thursday, Task 3. A 86.9km race to goal

Task 3 results all pilots

The conditions were simliar to day 4 and a 86.9K local task was set.

The winner was Andre Rainsford, on a Macpara Magus 5, in a time of 2:58:43.

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Tom Payne's daily report:

A long task today: a 87km bow-tie, first north, then south, back north past launch, before the classic finish of Pic de la Charmatte and back to base. Once again, most of the field opted for the start on the hill out in front of launch and were rewarded with a great position when the gun went. By now the pilots were very familiar with the first 20km and flew it fast.

The leaders raced onto the ridge of the second turnpoint and found good climbs to well over 2600m, setting them up for an almost direct glide back to launch. Back on the take-off ridge, earlier pilots had little difficulty pushing north, but later pilots struggled against the increasing winds.

Most chose to return to Lambruisse but found it not working well and dived into the valley-of-no- landings quite low. Luckily no landings were required and good climbs at the third turnpoint launched pilots to 3000m after which it was a pure drag race. A 45 minute final glide on full bar got 34 pilots into goal, the quickest being Andre Rainsford of South Africa.

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Day 6: Friday, Task 4. A 66km race to goal

Task 4 results all pilots

Lighter winds were forecast with higher pressure and more stability. A race to goal following a classic 66K triangle was chosen, with a goal in St Andre

The window was opened at 12:45 and the start gate at 13:45, 90 pilots made goal!.

The winner was Mark Watts, on an Axispara Mercury in a time of 2:00:33.

Tom Payne's daily report:

Another cracking day today. A 66km task was set, with a slightly later start time of 13:45. Weak conditions before the start made for large gaggles stuck against the inversion at 2500m, but it "popped" at just the right time and 80+ pilots got a perfect start with stunning visibility in all directions.

Fast conditions made for great ridge racing for the first 25km but weak climbs in the middle proved to be the crux for some. Finally, good climbs whisked the gaggle up to base to cross the lake, bag the turnpoint, and glide along the length of the lake back to goal. The winner was again Wagga Watts with probably about seventy other happy pilots in goal.

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Day 7: Saturday, Task 5. A 45.4km race to goal

Task 5 results all pilots

A short 45.4K task was set because of a dubious forecast. In the event the conditions were much better than expected.

High cloud limited thermal activity early in the day, so the window was opened later than usual, at 13:30. Most pilots took off early in the window and had a long wait for the start gate at 14:30. With climbs much higher than expected, 90 pilots of the field of 116 made goal.

The winner was Andre Rainsford, on a Macpara Magus 5,in a time of 1:16:52.

Tom Payne's daily report:

Final day today. At the start of the day Mads was leading the comp and Russ Ogden was winning the overall British champs.

In the morning the day was dead. High cloud cut off everything and it wasn't looking good. Unable to get the detailed weather forecast, we headed up to launch anyway where conditions looked much better: the high cloud was moving off to the east and blue skies illuminated the west. In anticipation of weak conditions, a 43km race to goal was set with a start much later than the previous days.

Boy was the task under-set! Good climbs before the start lifted most pilots to over 3000m and as the gun went the race was on! Full speed to the first turnpoint where another booming thermal blasted the lead gaggle high enough to race back to the Lambruisse ridge. Here the leaders wanted to take the high ground over the unlandable valley, but high cloud was weakening the thermals so they minced around on the Lambruisse ridge. Meanwhile, the later pilots, having bagged the turnpoint got a great line down the valley. Everyone converged at the aerials and raced back to take-off where another great climb got the gaggle high enough to push on to the Crete de Serre. From here on it was full bar to the final turnpoint at the Pic de Charmatte and back into goal.

A couple of the U3s was fastest round in 1:08, with Russ in 3rd, a fitting finish to his domination of the British Championship this year. Many, many pilots made it in in this super-fast final task, Tre Burgoyne first serial and Toby Colombe first sports class.

It's been a great comp with five excellent tasks in seven days. The beer will flow late into the night at the party tonight.