Jeff was interviewed for this blog when he was at the pre-Worlds last year. See it here
Jeff's blog, pictures and video of the day are all here
Jeff lands on Flickr
Jeff makes Google News:
This is his video of the day:
Jeff O'Brien crosses the line first
See all today's launch photos in this Flickr set
Added Thursday noon: If you haven't read Jamie Wanders report from goal yesterday read it here. She just gets it:
"When I realized it was OB, all I could think was how ecstatic and proud Rob would be if he could have been here to see that. I was with him at goal in Texas two years ago when Kevin Carter came in first the first day of the worlds. Turns out Kevin had taken the earliest start, so he didn't win the day, but Rob was beside himself. He was always such a proud Wills Wing father"
6.45pm: There is quite a breeze blowing through the campsite, and it's caught quite a few pilots out - several, including some names, have landed painfully close but not made it across the line as they struggle into wind for the last km or so. A few faces-of-agony are walking around the landing field just now, including Blay Olmos (Spain) and Brit team captain Carl Wallbank. They may have made it on the GPS. The results will make interesting reading. Jamie Wanders is tweeting the goal line on her site here. Her latest post says '30 across the goal line: No sign of Manfred yet'. It's all down to the scorers now...
6pm: Jeff O Brien (USA) crossed the line first about 10 minutes ago. He took the second start gate at 2.30pm. Looks like he has probably won the day. He crossed on his own, several minutes in front of the second and third pilots across: Alessandro Ploner and Christian Voiblet. Fantastic flying Jeff!
5.30pm: So far only a dozen pilots have reported back to HQ that they have landed enroute - looks like there could be lots in goal.
4pm: So the pilots are on task now. Down at the goal field (the Laragne campsite) there is already a party atmosphere - the music is on and the beers are out. One of the wind dummies who just landed after a two hour flight reported climbs of 5m/s and climbing out to 3,000m above launch. Expect more - and bigger - numbers as the day goes on. We'll head down to the goal field and try to catch the first ones coming across. Three start gates today though: 2.15pm, 2.30pm and 2.45pm, so whoever is first across the line won't necessarily be the winner of the day. We'll have to wait until much later - maybe 11pm tonight - to find that out.
A quick word about launch: the first half got off well and quickly, then the wind started to switch about a little, hindering some of the later pilots, so there were some late launches. Other than that most pilots took off and went straight up.
1.15pm: In just half an hour since the launch opened, about half of the field have taken off and skied out. No-one is hanging about today!
12.45pm: They are ready for the off. The task is set - a not-so-trivial 162km circuit. The first start gate opens at 14.15 and they will be heading North to Bonnet Rouge (B47), then East to Batie Neuve (B84), South over the edge of lake Serre-Poncon to St Pons/Seyne (103), then South West to B77, just north of Digne, and finally the long return to Camping Montéglin at Laragne. Estimated arrival is around 18.30. More news as we get it.
10am: Heading up the hill. Check back around lunchtime (FRA) for an update. Hope to have task etc online then.
9.40am: Briefing has just finished. Forecast supplied by Meteo France reads: ‘At last a good day. No problem with the wind but fairly stable. Blue thermals in the Laragne area.’
Weak north westerly airflow.
Winds at 1500 m for 2pm: SW at 5 knots – 10 kmh.
At 3,000 m at 2 pm: NE at 10 knots – 20 kmh.
At 3,000 m at 5 pm: NE at 5 knots – 10 kmh
Wind will switch to NE at around 2,000 m. Below that it will be SW.
Forecast sounding for later in the day (5pm) is for no inversions up to 3,000 m. Weak inversion at 3,000 m.
So, hot, sunny and blue – very few cumulus. No risk of thunderstorms. Stable air.
Tomorrow's forecast: hot and sunny, light winds, possible storms over the high mountains in afternoon. Light winds and valley breezes, light NW upper winds.
Summary by David Owen: ‘Pretty much a classic Laragne day.’
Conclusion: 'We are going up Chabre. To set up on the upper south launch.'
9.15am: Lots of milling about going on at HQ. There is a whisper of maybe going up Aspres, maybe Chabre ... News on the noticeboard is the protest from the Hungarian Team has been denied.
7.35am: The view from the campsite this morning.
7.30am: Brian the Scorer is working on getting the temperature trace up and running again this morning. Small problem with the software/hardware (which looks about 25 years old) feeling cranky, but it should be sorted out soon enough. Scene on the campsite is quite slow - just a few people getting up so far. Give it an hour and we will all be in the HQ rattling around trying to predict the weather.