Monday, August 29, 2011

Party Night

.....and we can't go without mentioning that no one knows how to party better than those Brits.  I won't soon forget Jochen's impressive capacity to groove!

St. Andre - Final

The combined UK/French Nationals wrapped up with a couple of very windy days and cancelled tasks.  Molly Moyes never ceases to amaze me.  Her weather manipulating powers are nothing short of magical.  Of course, I'm going to be a bit more specific next time I ask her for a three-task competition.  Although we did end up with three tasks at St. Andre, one of them came after Carl had already left for work.  Anyway, thanks so much Molly for your hard work ;-)

Everyone was pleased to see Gary Wirdnam in the top spot!  He went away as the overall winner and the British champion.  Luis Rizo is now the French champion coming in second overall.

I thought it was really cool to see these two competitions combined.  It's a smart idea for nations whose nationals don't typically attract tons of pilots.  By combining the English and French, there were nearly 100 pilots in the end and quite a few top guys.  More importantly, the atmosphere was especially fun.  The cooperation by the organization and the camaraderie amongst the French and English pilots was particularly friendly and enjoyable to be a part of.  

Here are some more pictures from the prize giving.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lachens - Task 3

Yesterday's task was flown from a nearby site called Lachens.  It's quite a nice launch and takes a different wind direction than the main launch at St. Andre.  It's about an hour drive, but it was well worth it as we were able to have a task from there where we wouldn't have been from here.

Unfortunately, it was a difficult start and at least 15 or so ended up in the bottom landing field.  Many complained that the air was quite rough around the hill and in the landing field, but everyone seemed to manage ok.  The guys that did get away had a very nice time.  Conditions improved along courseline where we could see the clouds developing and there were over 30 in goal at the Aerogliss at St. Andre.

Pity there have only been three tasks, but it's cool to see Gary Wirdnam leading overall with Luis Rizo and Pierro Zin in second and third.  Today was cancelled at the 9:30 briefing because of high winds.  Most expect the same tomorrow, so it might be time to head home :-(

Here are some pics from yesterday.  And, the scores are up here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Via Ferrata

I guess we didn't scare ourselves enough in the air recently, so we thought we'd try a bit more on the ground (or mostly on the ground).  There's another great via ferrata just about 50 km sound of St. Andre and a bunch of us thought we should check it out once the task was cancelled day before yesterday.  

Although it was much too hot to be clinging to the side of a south facing rock at 2 in the afternoon, we went for it anyway.  I actually thought this was was even better (meaning scarier) than the one Carl and I did three years ago near Laragne.  In addition to two tight-rope style bridge crossings, it finished off with a high and fast zip line.  I would love to do it again on another day when heat stroke is less of a threat ;-)

 None of it looks nearly as "exposed" as it feels when you're up there. 

 It was very slow and steady for me on the first crossing, but a walk in the park for Jem of course.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 3 - Cancelled

Carl reckons he would rather be a wuss with a heartbeat than a dead hero ;-)

We went up to launch and as a few were beginning to set up, the safety committee announced that due to gusty thermals on launch everyone should wait to rig.  By the re-briefing at noon it was apparent that the wind was going to be too strong.  They predicted 40 knot winds and quickly cancelled the day.

Meanwhile, we have some scores posted here at HQ, but I still can't find any online.

Here's the overall after two days.

Results from day 1.

  And day 2.

This may all change a bit as they haven't adjusted the scores yet for the pilots who helped Barry after his chute deployment.

Task 2

We got a rather late start on yesterday's task as the wind was blowing over the back pretty strong until the front side heated up a bit.  There was a lot of hanging about in the heat and waiting and wondering if it would ever blow up.  Gordon and I had a bet on what time it would come around - which he lost and has paid up on yet!

Luckily conditions improved and they all started on course to goal at Laragne a bit after 3.  Even as late as the day turned on, I heard at least half the field made goal.  It was cool being back in Laragne and I only wish we could have just stayed there and finished out the competition from the Chabre....I like that area so much better.

Fun trip back to St. Andre anyway in the happy car!  Jochen and Carl were at goal fairly fast and young Jem had another great flight, just 20 km short of goal.

Heading up the hill shortly to do it all again today!

Monday, August 22, 2011


I haven't been able to find them online yet.  They are posted here at HQ, but are being taken down because there is some problem with the start gates and times.  But, pretty sure Gordon won the day yesterday with Elio coming in about 10 minutes behind him.  Top four are likely Gordon, Elio, Luis and Jochen - but that may or may not be totally right.  I'll post a link to the scores when they're up.

Chutes and Ladders

Knowing the reputation that St. Andre has as a very rough, windy place, I had hoped that everyone would stay upright for this comp.  It wasn't to be.  Yesterday a British pilot had to deploy his parachute.  We haven't heard the full story yet of what happened, but the pilot is alright.  He apparently has some back injuries, but they are not life threatening.  

Carl came on radio halfway through the task yesterday saying that a guy was coming down under chute.  Apparently he watched the guy and saw the chute open but thought it looked too small.  In the end, it turns out that the chute didn't completely open - story is that it wrapped around an upright or something like that and he came down inverted relatively slowly.  The area where it happened is quite rough, but somehow he managed to land in a fairly open area.  As of this morning, he is in the hospital and his glider is still up there.  I hear it will be a difficult retrieve.

I can't help but wonder why people enjoy this site so much.  I'm told over and over again that if you respect the weather here, everything is fine and the flying is fantastic.  I guess I'm just not sure what it takes to "respect" the weather.  Yesterday's forecast was for beautiful conditions and light(ish) wind.  Same forecast for today, I hear.  

Meanwhile, as we were driving out of the main landing field at the end of the day yesterday, in comes Antoine.  He had blown off the task presumably because he felt it was too small for such a great weather forecast.  I jumped out of the car to ask how his flight was.  He said he had flow nearly to Italy - didn't know the exact distance, but thought it was about 250 kilometers total.  Well done Antoine!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Task 1

Turns out the task wasn't so short after all.  There were somewhere around 20 in goal in the end, plus four rigids that came in late after the task was stopped.  Late this afternoon there were a few cells that dumped a bit of rain between the last turnpoint and goal so they eventually had to stop the task but most flexwing that would make it in were already in so it probably won't effect things much if at all.

We also had one come down under parachute.  He is fine and I don't know who it was nor do I know the whole story, but apparently his chute opened fine, he landed near a mountain top and was walking around packing up his glider.  Carl and Phipsy circled over him trying to relay coordinates in case he needed rescue.  Phipsy landed nearby and eventually we all learned that the pilot was fine but would have a difficult walk out.  I'm just reminded again of why I don't really want to fly here.

Some Pics from the practice day

UK/French Nationals in St. Andre

We arrived in St. Andre a few days ago for the combined UK/French Nationals.  Great idea on the part of the organizers to combine these meets.  There are over 100 pilots here including many of the top guys from the UK, France, Germany and Italy - Antoine, Luis, Zin and Raymond are here from the French team, Tullio, Elio and Paulo from Italy, Joergi and Monique are here from Germany and of course most of the best UK pilots.  Now, if they can manage to set some more challenging tasks, it might prove to be a good meet.

Day one we have some of the best looking conditions I've seen in St. Andre.  Winds are quite light and cloudbase is supposed to go up near 5000 meters.  The task committee, however, thought since it was the first day, that they should go a little easy on the boys (and girls).  They set a 138km triangle that a few were not so pleased with.  I overheard some French saying it was a 300km day, easy.  Apparently Antoine thought so and blew off the task to go for a nice long triangle.  Pretty gutsy as I would have expected him to be on the podium for sure and likely in the top spot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beautiful Tolmin

We just wrapped up a week at one of my most favorite flying sites in the entire world.  Although we didn't have the best weather - it was quite stable most days and cloudbase wasn't all that high - I still say it's one of the best places on the planet for hang gliding (and most any other outdoor sports).

Matjaz was as fantastic a host as always (thanks again Mat!!).  We swam in the cold blue Soca River, partied every night, had great meals by master chefs Jem and Jochen, played way too much Mexican Train and just had a generally fantastic time.  This week is one of my favorites of the entire summer and I always look forward to coming back.  I hear talk that the Brits may have their nationals there next year!!

I didn't have my best meet ever (what's new ;-).  But Carlos and Jem did quite well.  Carlos was winning until the second to the last day when we flew back 5km to a later, non-existent start....oops!  Anyway, he ended up 3rd with two other Moyes boys on the podium for a Moyes sweep.

 Jem finished off his first ever comp with a first place trophy in the sport class!!  Well done son ;-)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Belgian Champions

Seven out of seven days flying at Laragne for the Belgian Nationals.  Great week!  Unfortunately, the last day was just a spot landing contest - but tons of fun was had by all.  Carl won the meet overall, with Mart in second and Jochen in third winning the Belgian championships for the second year in a row.

Amazingly, I came in second in the women's division ;-)  Chantal came in first and Heather third.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Big Sky

The bad weather held off just long enough to give us our sixth task in a row.  I love the sky here...and the view from the Aspes launch is gorgeous for 360 degrees.

Here's Ron Richardson just after launch.

Jochen won the day again, coming in at least a half an hour of ahead of Carl and Mart.  He's surely redeeming himself after the first two bad days.  Although Jochen won, Carl looked the coolest (of course).

A task isn't looking very likely for tomorrow, but we'll wait and see.  If not, we've got nothing to complain about here - 6 out of 7 days is more than we ever hoped for.

Fruits of the Forest

Yes, the flying is great here in Laragne and my favorite memories come from here, but there is so much more that I love about this place.

The Thursday morning market is full of yummy sights and smells.  If I lived here I would go crazy once a week.

For the past three days Heather and I have stopped to collect rasberries and blackberries on the road down from launch.  It's like a treasure hunt!

The goal field reminds me of our "country club" flying at home.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Rough'n It

Three days into the Belgian Nationals and we have three tasks....ahhhh.  How nice it is!  Yesterday we had 4 in goal.  Carlos came in first about 7 minutes ahead of Mart, but having taken a 15 minute earlier start.  That gave Mart the win and the day winner's prize.

Today conditions haven't been as good.  They're on course now for a 70km task, but things were quite stable on launch and they were slow to get going.  As I sit in the goal field now there are quite a few gliders that have landed without completing the course.  Probably some are free-fliers, but several must be competitors as well.

Meanwhile, we're enjoying the sunshine and our nice little castle on the hill.