Pedro Bernardo Competition Report

The first round of the British Championships was held in Pedro Bernardo from 2nd to 7th June 2008


Day 1: Monday. Task 1 stopped for safety reasons

Stopped task 1 was a 35.5K race to goal via 3 turnpoints, with turnpoints in the valley to keep pilots away from large Cu development in the mountains.

The task was stopped before it was completed because of rain on the goal field.

As there were no pilots in goal the task was not scored.

Here is Adrian Thomas' report:

After a long wait for orographic cloud to clear take-off, and to be sure that there were no serious developing CuNimbs, Calvo got the first task of the Nationals away at 3.30pm on Monday. 33.5km race to goal via 3 turnpoints. The turnpoints were set out in the valley to keep pilots away from large CuNimb development over the main ranges, and provide copious landing options should task cancellation become a possibility. Launch was small, but adequate, and the 106 pilots got away cleanly in 20 minutes. The gaggles formed over the main trigger points above the beautiful village of Pedro Bernardo. As the start time approached, two main gaggles formed, one on the ridge, one out in the valley. A small breakaway group had moved off upwind of the start cylinder into a sunny patch (me and Mads and a couple of others), the thermal there was slow to get going, but good (4m/s) once it kicked off.

The three main gaggles converged at the first turnpoint, with the ridge-pilots losing out (getting a little low) and the breakaway benefitting from the easier cross/downwind glide. After the 1st turnpoint it was clear that there were going to be problems down track, with a small shower dumping on the last turnpoint. The lead gaggle took turnpoint 2 and climbed in a 4m/s thermal that topped out almost on the glide slope at 13:1 required. The second gaggle (with Mark Hayman and Craig Morgan pushing on and several I can't identify in flight - sorry guys) benefitted from a more substantial climb, perhaps triggered by gentle gust-front convergence and ended up 2 or 3km behind but on an 8:1 glide slope. By the time they reached that height there had been much discussion amongst the safety committee, and as it became apparent that heavy rain was falling on goal, the task was cancelled when the lead gaggle (Jamie Messenger, Jon Chambers, Marcel Bourgoadien (from Holland) and I were 5k from goal).

Task cancelled, safe (and a very nice flight actually - what a beautiful place, and so many thermalling birds). Still, it was a tad disappointing - why did the only patch of rain have to be on the goalfield? Yesterday it was everywhere.... smart but misguided flight of the day? Steine thought the task would be stopped and scored so set off on a speculative glide to the deck from the second turnpoint landing well in front. Stopped tasks are cancelled unless someone makes goal.

Day 2: Tuesday, Task 2. A 72.4km race to goal

Task 2 results all pilots

A 72.4K task was set via 3 turnpoints out in the flatlands to keep pilots away from possible showers in the mountains to the north west. The start gate was a 17K radius entry cylnder around turnpoint 1.

The window was opened at 13:45, after waiting for the wind to come on to the West launch.

Here is Adrian Thomas' report:

Conditions had dried out significantly since yesterday, and chance of showers was forecast to be only perhaps 20%. Therefore, the task committee set a task intended to keep the pilots out in the flats, away from the mountains. 72k quadrilateral (squarish). Larry Pino (local guru) was convinced the wind would come up the west takeoff, so that is where we set up, to enjoy our nil-wind launches. Having got off, the run along to the end of the spur was less than lifty, and when the lift came (full of grit where I found it) it was a lee-side thermal, or dust-devil if you were low. Most got off cleanly, although Fiona Macaskill's maximum running speed was inadequate for take-off, V1, not V2. Once away, there were 2m/s climbs about, and it wasn't long before 100 pilots were dodging about the whispy bits, waiting for the start. The start gaggle split into a variety of sections, Again I headed West along the ridge(ish) and was high and upwind when the start went, but not very upwind. Still, with a few wispy bits to glide to on the way to the first well formed cumulus, my gaggle arrived high. The route to the first turnpoint was fairly obvious, with well formed flat-bottomed clouds, but without any drift it was pretty slow going. A lead gaggle broke away, dragged on by Craig Morgan, and pushed to the first turnpoint early. It felt like we would leave the rest behind there, but it wasn't to be. The second leg was slow, and slightly into wind. When the lead gaggle set off it was blue. Later, the second gaggle would find a cloud street running along track. Fortunately, one of the UP Edge pilots (Israeli, can't pronounce his name, nice guy), had the bit between his teeth and was off leading out every time the gaggle arrived at his climb. What a hero. We pimped outrageously off him.

The run to the second turnpoint looked ok from the point of view of the lead gaggle, but as we took the last climb before the glide to turnpoint 2, 40 gliders came in above us. After we had left, a good cloud street had formed in the blue, and gaggles 2 and 3 cruised to the lead gaggle in lift. Dammit. Having taken the 2nd turnpoint (in a 3m climb) we headed for the 3rd turnpoint, back in towards the main range. At that point it was obvious there was big development over the mountains, and rain was falling behind the front ridge. As we cruised towards the turnpoint the rain advanced over the ridge, looking quite worrying. Lots of 2s on the safety committee channel (1, safe, 3, cancel, 2, watch it). The news that Calvo and Innes Powell were at the 3rd turnpoint made me feel much safer, even while I was squawking 2.

As we approached the last turnpoint, Mark Watts and Craig Morgan made a break for it, heading off when Craig's glide indicator said 11:1 to goal. Gutsy move - we hadn't managed a glide of that sort all day, but then the last leg was set to be downwind. The rest of us mortals topped up before heading into the murk, before the rain. Taking the turnpoint I had 13:1 required. I could see Craig and Mark ahead, low, and set off on final, expecting to deck. The lead gaggle spread out, there was sun on the ground along the river valley. Kai Coleman lead in there above Mark and Craig, and found a decent climb. The rest of us dove in at full bar, but by the time we got there Kai was well above us. He headed for goal at 8:1 indicated, and we climbed to 8.6 before being dragged along behind him. Severe sphincter clenching on the final glide. Kai won the day, maybe 40 in goal. Mark Watts squeaked out from about 100 feet AGL to get in slightly late. Craig decked. The later gaggles had no hope of making goal, as the CuNimb's cirrus shaded out the course-line, so there were a large set of pilots within 10k of goal, bottom feeding before decking. In goal, the general feeling most expressed was that Pedro Bernardo is a beautiful place to fly, and that was a beautiful flight. Certainly in terms of pure pleasure of flying it was a joy - stunning scenery, smooth climbs of adequate enjoyable strength, 3 hours of flight for the leaders. Lovely.

Day 3: Wednesday, Task 3. A 75km race to goal

Task 3 results all pilots

After much discussion by the task committee and the production of a new task as the original task ran through the Madrid airspace. A race to goal was set with a goal near a village called La Puebla de Montalban 20 km east of Toledo. At least 60 pilots made goal. First into goal was Mark Watts in a time of 2 hours 35min, followed 50 seconds later by Craig Morgan.

Photos by Tom Payne.

Here is Adrian Thomas' report:

A 75k task was set to the South West, skirting just along to the west of the new madrid airspace. The locals regularly set tasks with goals under the TMA shelf, and never see planes (Madrid airport t4 is apparently not close to capacity), but Calvo, rightly, wasn't going to risk it. So, with the goal and course line comfortably outside the airspace, off we went. Nice breeze on launch, and the ordered launch seemed to be working ok. Once off, it was very hard to get up. Climbs were available low down, but higher up, around 1500m, things slowed dramatically. Looking at Tom's pictures you would think it was an epic day. Hardly - 2m climbs were good. It was a good thing there was plenty of time to the start, because getting high was a problem. An early gaggle climbed on the peaks right of take off, a second gaggle climbed out from town near the end of the ridge, and my gaggle got a later climb also from above town. Many minutes of mincing had us at cloudbase with a few minutes and a couple of km to go, so off we pushed into the flats, toes pointed and arms folded looking at a 10km glide to the first cloud. It wasn't as drastic as that - things were working in the blue. Steve Ham and I pushed along a line of whispies and found a 3m at the end of it, and the lead gaggle formed up on that climb.

From there we pushed towards the obvious cloud working on the west of the antennas ridge, and, following the pattern for the day, the obvious cloud had a big area of 0.5m/s lift, but no core. Eventually, once 40 pilots had explored every possibility we moved on.

Another pattern was becoming clear - hanging back and getting high was a strong strategy - pushing on might work, but typically you would hit a weak climb and the hordes would arrive in it above you. We pushed on. Mark Watts leading out in his usual heroic fashion. The next cloud had a 4m/s climb under it - which was to be the best of the day. The lead gaggle (Craig Morgan, Mark Watts, Mark Hayman, Berny Kelly, Andrew Smith and half a dozen others) topped out quickly and pushed on towards the lake. This was to prove the crux. Lines were critical - some nicely bouyant, lots with 4m/s sink. Those of us who arrived at the lake high were greeted with a large area of bouyant air with 2 or 3m/s cores in it. The less lucky were left bottom feeding for long periods.

After the lake climbs were beginning to be a bit suppressed by the cirrus coming in from the NorthWest. Good-looking clouds were abundant, but having set off for them they would typically dissipate before you got to them leaving weak broken climbs. Heading off speculatively into the blue was made more irritating by abundant sink. Especially when you looked back to see Hayman and Bungay who had minced their way into orbit. Then, just as things were looking desperate, Joakim Johansson (Sweden, Airwave magic FR3) low and out front took a right angle turn to the left with obvious purpose. I couldn't see what he had seen, but took a punt on it, and so did the whole gaggle, and it was a relief to see him come charging up in a 3m/s climb. From there we moved across the plains towards the high ground, the circular irrigated fields work in Australia, but not here. I ended up getting separated from the lead gaggle here, trying to get the jump on them by making an early connection with what looked like a convergence line. Not working properly... so then I was low enough to go for ground sources, and the most obvious was a flat-topped spur sticking into the plains. As I got there gliders appeared out of the murk from all directions, and the lead gaggle re-formed, eventually finding a 4m/s climb. Wagga and Craig headed off towards goal early, with Richard Bungay higher and in pursuit I climbed to 8:1 required with Mark Hayman, Mads Syndergaard and Joachim, and we pushed on for goal from 16k out. The same 1500m split we'd had on launch was working here, combined with the convergence I'd failed to connect with. Above 1500m and you were in abundant lift too strong to let you keep the bar on. Below it and you were in sink, but able to blast along full pelt. Mark was in first, followed closely by Craig, and then Richard Bungay. Then my gaggle. 63 pilots made goal.

Day 4: Thursday, Cancelled task.

Todays task was delayed while the wind on the main take off was 'over the back'. By the time the wind began to come on there was large cloud development over take off and to the north and it began to rain. The task was cancelled at 14:00.

Day 5: Friday, Task 4. A 63K race to goal via 3 turnpoints.

Task 4 results all pilots

The task winner was Craig Morgan in a time of 2 hours 15 seconds, 55 pilots were in goal.

Here is Adrian Thomas' report:

Task 3: The forecast was for post-frontal light Northerlies. Larry Pino and Daniel Crespo, the local skygods, were jumping up and down at the prospect of the best day for years. So the task committee set a 109k task based around a 100k FAI triangle speed run. Once we got to take-off, it was obvious the North wind was stronger than expected, and the vultures flying around at launch height suggested it wasn't exactly booming, so the task was re-jigged to a 63k downwind zig-zag run via 3 turnpoints. Then the wind blew down the west take-off. We checked the East take-off, where it was soarable, so we moved to the East and teh wind decided to blow down there. So we moved to the west again figuring that eventually the sun on that face must bring the wind on.

When it started to blow up, the window was opened. It blew down. Then it went to nil wind, and 15 pilots got off, led by Mads Syndergaard who used the full length of the launch plus a bit to get to Edge launch speed. Then it blew down for 20 minutes. Eventually, after 25 minutes standing waiting for a launch slot I got a brief nil to get off in. Bit hectic - two of us went at the same time, and the wingtips touched briefly while we were both in fully-committed launch-runs, legs furiously pumping. We both got off cleanly... getting up was more tricky. The launch got better later on as the wind came up the hill, but above launch we could see why the vultures had been struggling for height. Bumpy weak broken thermals. My theory is that the North wind coming over the range was descending in our area, stabilising the air making the thermals 'squirty' like they are on stable high pressure days, when only the hottest blobs can actually rise through the treacly resistance of the airmass.

Eventually, some time after the race start, I got to base and headed along track. Craig Morgan and a couple of others had got off in the first gaggle and established themselves at cloudbase upwind of the first turnpoint for a brilliant start. They pushed on establishing an early lead. Others were ranged along the ridge North of the first turnpoint, getting reasonable climbs on the lee side.

The first glide out past turnpoint one was critical - a long glide out into the flats before the first thermal, and lots of pilots went down there. In the flats there were a few clouds, but it was mostly blue. I caught up with the second gaggle (Mark Hayman, Jon Chambers, and about 10 others) after the first turnpoint, and the gaggle worked well, spreading out to search as we pushed across the flats. Hard grinding work trying to find worthwhile climbs, and worthwhile meant only 2m/s. 63km seemed a long way, and 1500m felt horribly low. The last section went over a town by a river, and we climbed to a glide-slope to goal of 8:1 there, which ought to have been ok as we headed into the bowl-shaped valley where goal was, but 4m/s sink meant that another climb was needed. I went left to look for something along the rim of the valley, the main group went straight down the middle. We both found weak climbs, and clawed our way back up to the glide slope, Mark Watts, Kelly Farina and Jamie Messenger set off early from the main group, Jamie and Kelly very low. Kelly took a line over the forest and got lifty air, Jamie was drilled to the deck - inside the 2k end of speed section but unable to make the 1k finish line. The rest of us climbed a bit more, set off a bit later, and had booming thermals on final glide. Typical.

Craig Morgan and Cecilio Valenzuela had stormed in 15 minutes before the main gaggle. Craig in first managing the 63km in 2hours 1 minute. Looks like the line splicing worked.

Weather looks good for a task today, 50 points separate the top 5.

Day 6: Saturday, Task 5. A 63.8K race to goal via 2 turnpoints

Task 5 results all pilots

The task was won by Mark Watts in a time of 2 hours 10 min 21 secs. There were 73 pilots in goal.