Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday 3 July: Task 8: 154km

10.30pm: Results coming very soon... waiting for one last guy to download then it's all official...

8.30pm: Alex Ploner has just been into the download room, above. He got to goal in 4hrs 1min.

See more goal pics in this Flickr set

Manfred congratulates Alex Ploner...

Manfred explains what happened to him...
But who cares? Manfred's been World Champion three times already, and now he gets the girl!

7pm: The drama doesn't stop here. Just when we thought it was all over Manfred Ruhmer appeared to congratulate the new World Champion (yet to be confirmed etc etc) and the other medallists. (Who will be third? It's in a GPS on its way to download somewhere...). Amazing scenes of great sportsmanship. I have a tear in my eye. When the Tour de France starts next week and the tales of drug taking, cheating and rivalry start to pour out, remember this as a true competition, where the best pilots have fought the best fight, and then they've sat down together afterwards to laugh about it as the sun goes down on a great day. Thank you for taking part and for watching. Results out later tonight. Come back for the aftershow party about 11pm French time... à toute à l'heure!

Ladies and gentlemen ... Alex Ploner has landed! Probably our new World Champion, but it will be close. Congratulations on a great competition. Results out later tonight...

Alex Ploner ... flies Icaro

6.30pm: Alex Ploner is coming over the line.

: Attila Bertok in. Antoine Boissellier next.

Jonny Durand is told he's getting more than a medal tonight...

Jonny coming over the line

Zac Majors, Team USA!

: Jonny Durand second. 'Nice day out,' he said. He took the first start gate. 'Pretty much everyone did.' Described the day as smooth and nice. Confusion over Manfred cleared up: he has definitely checked in, and it was probably Christian Ciech that Nene Rotor was flying with. He has the same colours. About half a dozen in, including two from the US team: Zac Majors and Dustin Martin.

Nene Rotor ... good name

: First across the line is number 95. Brazil's Nene Rotor. He said he was flying the whole course with Manfred Ruhmer and only outclimbed him on the last turnpoint. Which is baffling because Manfred checked in.. or so we were told. What's going on? Is Manfred still in the air? Can he still win?

Into the wind ... windsock outside the beer tent just minutes ago

5.50pm: Seems like a false alarm. Apparently they are still 35 km away. One rigid wing pilot appeared on the horizon but landed a mile short, caught out by the headwind. Tough day out there.

The Italian team leader is on the line talking to the Italian pilots over the radio, briefing on wind strength and direction. Final glide is close...

: Radio reports that pilots are on their way from Sisteron - less than 30 km away. Plus, Alex Ploner is 33 tomorrow ... and he is still in the air. Christian Ciech is also reported to be still in the air.

Can you see any gliders? The sky now in the direction pilots will be arriving from

Alex Ploner, Italy

5pm: Alex Ploner: 32 yo, factory pilot for Icaro, excellent hang glider and rigid pilot and no stranger to the podium in both disciplines. He won the World Championships in Class 5 (rigids) hang gliding last year. He was fifth in the 16th Hang Gliding World Championships in Texas.

In this comp he was second in task 1, sixth in task two, 10th in task three, 12th in task five, and ninth in task seven. This performance has put him in second place overall. If he doesn’t deck it today, he could take the title. But today has been a day of the unexpected: the Austrian Gerolf is down too.

: So if not Manfred, who? "Alessandro Ploner has got to be the favourite," says meet director Heather Mull, "But it's wide open."

: More pictures from launch today are in this Flickr set

: Jamie Wanders tweets: 'It also appears that Christian Voiblet [Switzerland] has landed here at the goal field...couldn't have flown the course yet.' Looks like the day, which started out difficult, with tricky launch and difficult conditions, could be shaping up to be a disaster for some of the big names.

Eyes wide shut ... Manfred Ruhmer on launch this lunchtime

4.20pm: Manfred Ruhmer has landed. He has checked in with the competition HQ. Confirmed. Quite a crowd down here at the landing field. The weather is good still, with no sign of any overdevelopment on course.

: Unconfirmed news is comp leader Manfred Ruhmer (AUT) landed short of the first turnpoint. If correct the race has been blown wide open.

Very little news from the course line. Most seemed to have taken the first start gate. Heading down to the goal field to wait.

: All but two pilots have launched and are on course. It's been a difficult start to the last task here in Laragne, but with a 154km task ahead of them pilots will have to put that behind them and concentrate on the task in hand. Three hours from now pilots should be making goal.

: Just heard from one of the wind dummies (non-competing pilots who take off before the competition to show pilots what the wind/conditions are like). He's just landed and rang in to HQ to tell us it was tricky up there today. 'Hard to stay up.'

: Txt from the hill: 'NW winds on top slowing launches down in lane two.'

: Close observers will see that the final leg of the race will, if the forecast is correct, be into wind. The north west wind is forecast to increase in strength later in the day. Should make for some interesting final glides into goal.

Final glide explainer: Final glide is the last glide of the day - it is where pilots glide into goal, often from many kilometres away, not stopping to use another thermal or gain more height. The final glide calculation that a pilot makes - how high they have to be before setting out on final glide - can win or lose them the race. Get it right and the pilot will glide into goal and across the goal line with space to land easily and safely. Get it wrong and pilots will land short, or worse, stretch it out until they crash down within metres of the line. Final glide calculations are done with a flight instrument, coupled with the pilot's knowledge and experience. But calculations can be undone by unexpected conditions on route - for example stronger wind lower down that slows pilots down and degrades the glide. If the forecast is correct we can expect to see some of that today.

: Competition race leader Manfred Ruhmer (AUT) is 'pushing' to launch now. Conditions are trickyish, with pilots launching from both sides. The switchy winds are making it hard for pilots to launch, so while pilots are waiting for the wind to come up the hill and make it easier to launch Manfred is effectively telling them to get on with it when the wind comes on or get out of the way ... he wants to go now. Pilots are taking the hint and going when it's good. About 30 are already in the air - no one wants a repeat of Task 5 when conditions were difficult on launch and some got left behind.

: Pilots are launching now

View Task 8 in a larger map

A 154km task has been set, with three turnpoints and goal at Laragne camping. Launch window opens at 1pm, with start gates at 2.30pm, 2.50pm, 3.10pm and 3.30pm. This is a big task today - from here to Batie Neuve, then back to south of here, then home.

12 noon
: Tensions reported to be running high as pilots have to re-load gliders and head to the south launch. Parking needs strictly controlled here on the single track road and things have been fraught. Pilots are however now in situ and rigging their gliders.

: They have switched launches. They have gone up to the top launch, where they should be able to take off from the south. The wind has gone south now, but will probably be switchy. The two launches are about a mile apart, so things may well be a bit tricky up there just now.

Everyone is now on the hill, but the wind has gone very light - 3kmh from the north. Could make for a tricky start.

: Weather forecast

Summary: Hot and sunny, with moderate north west wind, and low risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

5,500m: NW 25knots, 50kmh.

1,500m at 2pm:
Aspres: 15 knots, NNW
Laragne: 15 knots, NW
5pm: Increasing winds through the day, slightly lighter to the south.

3,000m: Lighter winds, NW, 10 knots, 20 kmh.

Sounding: dry convective layer to 3,000 m at 2pm. Very convective by 5pm. Drier and warmer air above, with low risk of thunderstorms.

2-5/8 cumulus cover

Significant weather: NW wind at 15 knots, stronger after 5pm. 0C at 4,300m. Max temp: 33C.

Tomorrow: Hot, sunny, risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Conclusion: We are going up to the lower north take off on Chabre

1 comment:

Matjaz said...

Thank you for sharing everything with us who where not present at your magnificent world championships. It`s been a rush every day looking at the news at this blog. This is an example for media in future competitions. Also Jamie deserves an award from you for making twits every day and bringing the competition by seconds to our homes far away. Good job!