Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday 29 June: Task 4 cancelled

More photos from launch in this Flickr set

Playing the waiting game on Aspres

16.00: The task has been cancelled - the wind was just not coming round to the west as hoped. Pilots won't even be able to fly home.

After some time of unlaunchable air, pilots are taking off again. Conditions are slowly improving. About 12 pilots in the air (Manfred is still up at base, waiting). A couple of unlucky ones have landed. The cumulus development is not looking too threatening at the moment.

Manfred Ruhmer takes one of the only launch slots of the day

Manfred Ruhmer launched first and has skied out. Jonny Durand is working his way up. Another 6 or so are struggling. The wind is still mostly 90degrees off the hill. There's a big cumulus building to the east.

The start gates are now 15.45, 16.00, 16.15 and 16.30. Launch window closes 16.15 with a maximum extension allowable of 1.5h.

Now pilots are taking off. Some think this is a risky move, but maybe it will pay off.

Launch is closed again. They are rethinking the timings. It's still blowing from the north on the westerly launch, but it looks like the thermals are beginning to bring a breeze up the front south facing launch. A difficult day already.

The task has been announced. A 114km tour from Aspres (D05), travelling first north west to Luc-en-Diois (B810) then due south to B41 col de Perty, just off the end of the Chabre ridge, then east over the Buech valley to the hilltop village of Ventavon (B30), south again to Bevons La Fontaine, east of Sisteron, overlooking the Jabron valley, and then to the official landing field at Ribiers (A11). The launch is now open, with starts at 15.15 and 15.35.

The pilots are on the summit of Aspres, the wind is northerly, so the waiting game has started. The organisers are convinced it will turn to the west, but not sure exactly when. Same thing happened last year in the pre-worlds, it was a good call. The wind finally turned and a good task was set, albeit late.

Jeff O'Brien has had his appeal and he has been reinstated. He scores to the point of his infringement. It was his lucky day.

The forecast is confused today by models, overridden by the forecaster – basically the computer is modelling thunderstorms and overriding the general pattern. (As an aside, the way the forecast is done is the France Meteo forecaster creates a specialised forecast for the comp, which is then emailed over as a powerpoint demo, and he gives an analysis of it over the phone through David Owen, the comp organiser. This means the comp gets the benefit of forecasting local knowledge and ‘feeling’ as well as the modelled forecasts.) So the general pattern is north west flow, with north west winds on take off, and the risk of isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon that will create local winds.

The sounding we took today indicates a cloudbase of 2100m to 2200m early on today, rising to 2,400m at 2pm.

Fine until noon, some cirrus from west, big clouds over east mountains. Showers in first part of the afternoon, storms later. Laragne should stay clear until 4pm.

0C at 4,100m.

Tomorrow: Hot and sunny, with less storm development. NW flow.

Conclusion: Undecided.
Decision is between lower north take off at Chabre, or Aspres west. And the winner is... the west launch of Aspres.

The day looks good out there from the ground. More north in the wind yesterday, but so far the weather looks fine for hang gliding today. Weather report online as usual around 9.45am.

: So, 44 at goal yesterday. Christian Ciech won the day by a point ahead of Christian Voiblet. Zac Majors (USA) came in third. That means Christian Ciech is now leading the competition. Congratulations Christian on a great flight yesterday.

A huge upset though for Task 1 winner Jeff O'Brien (USA). He scored zero (0 points) after being penalised for flying in a no-fly zone. The area, which was close to the course line, is a parachute dropzone. Several pilots clipped it, and landed, as the rules dictate. But O'Brien's tracklog shows he spent some time inside it - as a result he scored nothing for the day. A huge disappointment for the American. He has appealed the decision, citing rain, the whole valley lifting (making it hard to land - he was spiralling but going up), and a parachute plane as the reason that he thought it best to stay in the air and get out of there rather than land in the dropzone. We'll have to wait and see... but fingers crossed he gets a fair hearing. He blogs here.

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