Slovenia, Kobarid Competition Report, 5-12 June 2010

Results and tracklogs

Task 1 Open Serial Sports Women
Task 2 Open Serial Sports Women
Task 3 Open Serial Sports Women
Task 4 Open Serial Sports Women
Task 5 Open Serial Sports Women
Task 6 Open Serial Sports Women
Overall Open Serial Sports Women

Registration (Saturday 5 June)

Over 140 pilots have converged on the small town of Kobarid in Slovenia to contest the first British Open of 2010 and the first round of the British Paragliding Championships 2010. The local organisers, guide Brett Janaway of XTC Paragliding and Klavdij Rakuscek have done a huge amount of work preparing for the competition, and it shows. The launch is huge and grassy, the mountains give reliable thermals and the long ridges give great racing. Landing fields are abundant in the main valleys, with a good road network assuring fast retrieves. HQ is 30 metres from the goal field, and above a bar! The forecast for the week is generally good, we expect to get several tasks in.

Task 1 (Sunday 6 June)

66km Race to Goal won by Alex Jofresa

The weather brought us light SW'ly winds and cloudbase at 1600m. A 66km race to goal was set, racing up and down the ridge before tagging a final, high turnpoint north of goal giving a high, safe glide back to HQ.

The start was a turnpoint at little out in the valley, giving pilots the possibility to spread out along the ridge before the start. Base was lower than expected and it was tricky to stay out of cloud. The main gaggle started from the ridge near take off and were rewarded with a good glide to the turnpoint before turning and re-connecting with the ridge: no turns needed! Others (including me, Tom Payne) tried to be clever by starting on the windward side of the cylinder, but had a poor glide into and out of the turnpoint that left them grovelling low on the ridge as the leaders bagged the turnpoint and blasted east to Tolmin.

It's the local classic route: follow the ridge to Kobarid, cross the short gap, climb up on the far side (being in a gaggle helped here as the lift was weak and broken at times) and then jump from peak to peak to Tolmin. Each peak was a classic trigger and it made for great climb-and-glide flying.

After ticking Tolmin, pilots climbed to base before pushing out to a turnpoint in the wide valley to the south and then returning to reconnect with the main ridge. There were good clouds along the main ridge and many found lifty lines that gave fast racing to the final turnpoint.

The final turnpoint was a high summit and pilots had to climb on the sunny south faces to get the cylinder and then turn south for final glide. The lines were lifty and pilots arrived about a thousand metres over goal.

About 90 pilots made it in, the fastest being Alex Jofresa (FR, Ozone R10.2) with Chris Harland (UK, Ozone R10.2) just behind him. Richard Bungay (UK, Gin Boomerang GTO) was the fastest Serial Class wing and Toby Colombé (UK, Gradient Avax XC 2) was the fastest Sports Class wing.

Unfortunately there were three tree landings, luckily without injury, as a result of pilots flying blindly into valleys with no landing options. The 140 pilots flew a total of about 350 hours all together and covered over six thousand XC kilometres.

Task 2 (Monday 7 June)

66km Race to Goal won by Craig Morgan

Higher bases, but also some high cloud, slightly stronger winds, and potential overdevelopment later in the day encouraged the task committee to set a short, fast task up and down the main valley with an early launch and an early land-by time.

There was a good breeze on launch, with a lot of high cloud around. However, the ridge was working and 140 pilots got a good start, although it was sometimes a little crowded in the single huge gaggle sandwiched in the 200m between the ridge and cloudbase. Initially it was looking like it would be a slow, technical race, but five minutes after the start opened the cloud cleared and conditions became epic.

Turning on the ridge just wasted time, and with 3m/s climbs available before the crossing it was game on. A group pushed on fast and low, but lost time climbing out in weak lift. Those who worked the stronger lift high up before crossing over Kobarid came in above them. Conditions then got better, with climbs increasing to smooth 4m/s. A turnpoint was bagged in the middle of the valley, out and back in a single glide, then back on the ridge flying NW to tag a turnpoint north of goal. The air was good with the lead gaggle flying pulley-to-pulley on every transition. We then headed east again, a little further this time, but the glides were fast and buoyant and pilots made good time.

The final leg was back to a turnpoint above goal - one climb required on the ridge - before pushing on round a spur, ridge soaring to tag the turnpoint and full bar into goal.

Craig Morgan (UK, Ozone R10.2) was first over the line in about 1h33m, with Chris Harland (UK, Ozone R10.2), Tom Payne (UK, Ozone R10.2) and Jamie Messenger (UK, Ozone R10.2) just behind.

At the time of writing, there are at least eighty pilots in goal. One pilot threw his reserve and landed hard on steep ground on the ridge. He has been taken to hospital by helicopter.

The weather for tomorrow, Tuesday, looks a little uncertain, but the forecast from Wednesday onwards is good.

Task 3 (Tuesday 8 June)

Task cancelled

It was a bit murkier today, with more cloud cover and a forecast of possible storms later in the day. Pilots wet up to take off and the task committee set a 64km race to goal in the valley. Shortly before the window was due to open, cloudbase dropped significantly and the window was postponed because it would have been patently unsafe to have 140 pilots waiting on the ridge in such conditions.

Conditions didn't improve, and the task was changed to a 41km elapsed time race. Cloudbase lifted slightly and a few blue patches appeared: these permitted the pilots to see that there was already some large vertical cloud development around. The task was hastily cancelled and pilots flew down to HQ.

Back at base, Pat Dower gave a talk about airspace and XC in Northern England which was very well received.

The forecast for tomorrow is better.