Award Winning Instruction
2008 Monarca Open News
The 2008 Monarca Open got under way Sunday with a 63 Kilometer task which included 6 turn points before pilots headed into goal. There were approximately 15 pilots who made goal. Alijaz Valic won the day followed by Eric Reed. We will have results when they become official.
Cloud base was forecasted to be 4,000 meters, but pilots never got quite that high. Getting up and out of launch proved more challenging than normal, and pilots who got off late in the launch window suffered in some shade until the sun came back.
Pilots who got upwind (West) of the Espina start cylinder had the best starts. There were some decent starts by pilots who were on the south side as well. The higher pilots took the glide straight back to the Launch turn point Despue, and immediately turned to run at the Peñón in order to get up to base before leaving for Trés Reyes(Three Kings).
The Three Kings turn point was difficult as pilots bucked a strong headwind to nick the turn point. I saw some nice lines by pilots who went back out to Espina in order to quarter the wind, and some even have a little tailwind on the glide to three kings.
It was a good idea to get to base after tagging the Three Kings turn point. This was the period in the day where we started to see overdevelopment. The lead gaggle was flying fast, and a huge amount of them dirted before casa in all the shade. There were a handful that did find some love and were able to escape and eventually make goal.
After a good portion of the leaders bombed out the shade took over the area. Pilots took different lines to grab La Casa turn point. The best call was to hold the high ground on the Mesa. Pilots who could stay high on the Mesa and get to base could tag Casa and then make the glide back to the west side of the Mesa and hit the Peñón turn point.
Lots of the pilots coming form the Three Kings turn point ran for the sun in the flats out in front of Cerro Gordo and climbed above 10,000 feet. These pilots left on glide for La Casa, got the turn point, but had nowhere to go with all the shade and west wind. There were a handful of pilots who got high enough to make it back to the ridge at launch and make a play for the Peñón. There were a few who attempted the glide from Sacamacate back to launch, but had to turn back toward Sacamacate and the Peñitas in hopes of getting higher in an attempt to make the cross again.
The sun never came back out enough to give pilots a chance to get back to the Peñón. Pilots drifted in thermals from Sacamate to 11,000 feet, but the west drift took them further away from the Peñón turn point, and most ended up coming back to Sacamcate with the same altitude they started the climb with.
The pilots who did make goal flew fast when they needed to, but down shifted when the day began to shade. They got to cloud base and stayed there if they could. They settled for much weaker climbs realizing this was the only way this task was going to be completed.
Pilots worked this strategy out to San Ramon, and back toward the Lake eventually making goal. It was a difficult day, but the caliber of pilots in Valle this year surpasses any other year the competition has been held.
The weather outlook is promising. Stay tuned for more from the front line.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
A quick note about Task 1. Eric Reed ended up winning the day. The rumor around launch was that Alijaz Valic was either penalized or DQ’d for cloud flying. This is an unconfirmed report.
The atmosphere seemed to have dried out a bit when pilots looked at the morning sky on day 2. We saw less cloud development before the start, and had high hopes that we wouldn’t see the over development we saw on Day 1.
The day gave us epic racing conditions, and the lead gaggle pushed hard. Once again we saw some of the leaders push too hard and land before making goal.
The task committee came up with the exact same start, but pushed it back 10 minutes to 1pm. Pilots had an easier time getting up and out today since the shading wasn’t a factor. There was less wind today as well. There were some flush cycles where the gaggle swarmed in the area of launch looking for the next pulse, but it seemed like everyone eventually got over to the Peñón, the Wall, or Crazy thermal.
There were wispys forming between the Peñón and Crazy Thermal, as well on the Mesa leading out toward Espina. The clock struck one and everybody was in pretty good position as the Armada went on glide toward Divisa.
There we only a few who stopped to climb in the valley between Espina and the Three Kings. The pilots who held the high ground and stayed on top of the Mesa on the way to Divisa seemed to do better than those that worked the rim. The rim had more wind, and the thermals on the Mesa seem to come together much better.
Pilots tagged Divisa and most climbed high at the turn point. Everybody tanked up for the long glide out into the flats to hit the Santa Maria turn point.
It was good to have friends out in the flats. Most pilots survived by staying together and working lift that was weaker than what they had found on the Mesa on the way to Divisa. The South West drift took the gaggles back toward the Three Kings. Slower Pilots patiently worked the lift to an altitude that was going to put them on the top of the Mesa.
The lead gaggle dove in lower at the Three Kings and got stuck for a bit before things finally came together.
After pilots got the climb just south of the Three Kings and before Maguey they followed the convergence line over the Mesa toward Sacamacate since the convergence was setting up more to the right of the course line on the long leg to Saucos.
Later gaggles got up at Cerro Gordo and saw some nice clouds set up between Cerro Gordo and Escalares. Once the pilots got close to cloud base they pulled a nice glide toward Casa and Sacamacate, since this is where the clouds were leading.
Pilots got climbs behind Sacamacate at the junk yard and got close to base. Things were a bit shaded on the straight line to Saucos, and most pilots who took the windward sunny south side of the clouds faired well. There were good weak climbs as pilots slowly drifted and tried to get to the magic layer just below base where you can make good time and glide with speed bar if the suck gets too strong.
The suck was getting weaker and so was the lift as pilots made the play for Saucos. There was plenty of sun spots mixed with the cloud shadows over there all day. Pilots wanted to get as high as possible for the long upwind glide to goal from Saucos. The climbs were getting weak, and pilots tanked up all they could before leaving. The peaks just north of Saucos were working, and some pilots flew back to these since the clouds were showing good development there.
There was a cloud street that started at these peaks north of Saucos and pointed towards goal, but the only extended 3 or 4 Kilometers. Beyond these clouds and everywhere in the valley was the big blue hole we hate to see. No more beautiful clouds streets, which had taken us out to Saucos from the Mesa.
People were trying different lines with different success. It seemed the line right to the LZ was bold and worked for some but not for others. The line heading more south and then dog legging to the right didn't seem to work so well either. Taking a line more to the right of the goal LZ seemed more buoyant. It may have been that Torre blocked some of the headwind coming from the lake by taking this line, and allowed the ground to heat more making the glide more buoyant.
This was along day in the saddle for some pilots, and it took lots of patience and focus to make goal. It seems like there were around 40 or 50 pilots in goal. We will have results for you as soon as they get posted.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
Day 3 of the 2008 Monarca Paragliding Open gave us less cloud development than previous days. The drier conditions often left us to wonder where the lift lines were located since we didn’t have our cloud streets to follow.
The task committee came up with a 67km task which took us farther east than we have ever flown in the Monarca Open history. This was well past the butterflies and over the high mountain passes that drop down toward Toluca.
The start time was 12:50pm. We weren’t getting as high as we had on the previous days, and there were lots of people who should have launched earlier. They found themselves trying to play catch up when the start was only 5 to 10 minutes away.
Most of the pilots were getting it at Espina, and the Mesa which led back to Crazy Thermal. Those that launched early were established, but not as high as previous days. When the start opened pilots raced for the 1km cylinder at Cerpel.
After hitting the start pilots at higher altitudes made a run for Crazy Thermal and the Wall while others glided toward the Peñón, and found climbs on the way. The best climbs were on the Mesa behind the Wall, but it wasn’t booming.
Some pilots made a play to the Peñón, which had given a good climb to the pilots who arrived there first, but offered only broken lift to those who were a few minutes behind.
Some pilots fell back to launch after taking a stab at the armpit between the Wall and launch. Most of these pilots flushed back to launch and got climbs, but the big pulse never came through and they were forced to go over the back with just over 9k after losing time.
At this point, the pilots who had connected on the Mesa, above the Wall, had made their way to Sarcomata and were getting a nice climb with decent altitude. The Valic brothers pushed in hard to Sacamacate low, and found the thermal that marked the convergence for the rest of the field approaching on this line.
There were pilots starting to climb out further south of the Soccer Field which is south of Sacamacate. These pilots had a good line since the drift was slowly taking them toward the Mesad turn point, but the climbs were not as high as the convergence which had set up behind Sacamacate.
The leaders pushed out toward Mesad from the Sacamacate convergence, while the other pilots in the thermals further south struggled to get as high in the weaker lift. Some of the leaders surfed the convergence and found decent climbs at or near the Mesad turn point, while other struggled.
The pilots who came from the line further south arrived at Mesad with not much altitude, and struggled in zeros waiting for a pulse. It was a breaking point for some. It seemed like heading south over the flats into the SW wind was a good call, but lots of pilots who took this route landed.
There were a handful of pilots who flew north taking them the opposite direction of course line. This is painful if it doesn’t work, but it did work, and the pilots that backtracked climbed to 11K.
This made the glide back to the convergence at Sacamacate easy and the glide seemed to be buoyant for most pilots. After this gaggle climbed out in this pocket of lift and convergence behind Sacamacate, they began the glide to Escale.
At this point, the leaders and the stragglers raced past each other going in opposite directions. This lead group was broken, but it seemed there was a train of at least 50-60 pilots who had hit the Escale turn point and were headed for the long uphill leg to goal.
Pilots found buoyant air and convergence the whole way out toward goal until they reached Saucos. When the leaders reached Saucos, the sun was still shining bright, but some high cirrus were drifting toward the sun, and were going to shut things down at some point.
The leaders took the line into the peaks on the left side of Saucos, and this worked for them. This group of pilots ended up being the group who took the day. Pilots who came on this same line later in the day found nothing like the previous group since the cirrus layer had begun to shade things.
Other leaders chose to go to the right and got weaker climbs on the ridge just before LZ2279, which we have used in previous years. After pilots got established on the Mesa, where this LZ is located, they made a play for the peaks due east. Those who came in with lower altitudes found windy ripping little thermals, and those who came in higher had some sweet climbs under some big clouds. Most everyone that made it this far on course line connected and made goal.
Pilots on the way to goal didn’t know if they were going to have a headwind or tailwind as they crossed the summit of the pass so they tanked up as much as they could before leaving.
After their instruments gave them a 5.5 to 1 glide they figured they could make it to goal even if there was a headwind. As it turned out, they had a tail wind to goal and came in with plenty of altitude.
At the end of the day I believe there were at least 60 pilots in goal. The Americans are making a strong showing halfway through the Monarca Open, and the Valic brothers push harder than most of us have ever seen.
It looks as though a cold front is headed our way. Hopefully we get some good pre-frontal tomorrow with more cloud development. The low is supposed to arrive on Thursday, so we will see how potent it is when and if it ends up on a collision course with our location. Even with the threat of this cold front you have to assume we will fly. I can’t remember a day in years past when we haven’t been able to do some sort of task here.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
The weather on day 4 turned out to be exceptional for the 75km task. There were a few wispy Q’s at times to mark the lift later in the day. The sky was mostly blue with an inversion visible in the distance early on in the day. Pilots found 1,100 a minute climbs and got close to 12,000 feet.
Cerpel was set as the 1km exit start cylinder once again. Lots of pilots were established above 10K well before the 12:50pm start opening. It was working well at Crazy Thermal, the mesa behind the wall, and between the Peñón and Crazy Thermal.
Big gaggles swarmed and waited for the start. There was one good final climb minutes before the start on the Mesa between Crazy Thermal and Espina. Pilots made the move out to Cerpel to get the start and then dove back to the Mesa.
Pilots who were lower had to try and get up on the edge of the Mesa, while higher pilots made a move for the Three Kings on the way to Divisa, directly from the start cylinder. One gaggle pushed west out in the valley off Espina and found a decent climb to tank up a bit more before getting on glide.
The Valic brothers’ game plan stayed consistent as they mashed the speed bar and stopped for nothing on the way to the Three Kings ridge. They found a climb but didn’t waste any time leaving the thermal, continuing to push.
The group of pilots who had gone back for the Crazy Thermal mesa after hitting the start cylinder ended up doing better than most of the pilots who were high at the start, and made a play directly for the Three Kings. The convergence had set up nicely on top of the Mesa from Maguey to Divisa, and the pilots who held the high ground here faired well.
Pilots who took a line more to the left along the ridge battled wind and thermals that were a bit torn up. They didn’t make good time to Divisa compared to the pilots who took the high road.
After tagging Divisa some pilots tanked up at this turn point before heading out over the barren flat wasteland toward the next turn point Lapila. There were some long glides with no lift for some of the early movers and some decent climbs for the slower pilots.
There was a steady release happening at the Lapila turn point and most pilots who arrived at the turn point found a climb right away. Pilots patiently climbed here, wanting to get high before the long glide back to the ridge which begins at Espina.
The lead gaggle lost hold of the Valic brothers as they left good lift with the lead gaggle to tear away on speed bar. It’s difficult to leave a ripping thermal when you see the Valic brothers hit sink and get drilled on the back side of the sweet thermal they were climbing in with you. You are jerked skyward as they get smaller and are drilled. It’s hard to follow, and this is where they made their move.
The Valics knew they were high enough to come in half way up the Espina ridge and chose to leave the lead gaggle and this climb behind. The rest of the gaggle continued to climb in the ripper. By the time this thermal had weakened and it was time to leave, the Valics were coming into Espina.
They arrived at Espina and got a wonderful climb. It was going to be difficult to catch them at this point unless they got stuck or made a mistake. The rest of the leaders arrived at Espina and the pulse was over.
The remnants of the lead gaggle got stuck here since they could not bench up onto the Espina mesa. These pilots lost 20-25 waiting to get back to higher altitudes in an attempt to reel in the Valic brothers.
The rest of the field behind the leaders found good climbs on the way to the Espina, and were able to get established on the Mesa. Timing was everything here, and at this point the entire mesa was releasing.
Later gaggles quickly climbed at the Crazy Thermal and Mesa behind the Wall and pushed on to Sacamacate with over 11k. Pilots were climbing and you could see wispy’s beyond Sacamacate letting pilots know the convergence was in full swing.
The climb at Sacamacate was the strongest of the day for some. A huge band of lift took pilots up to little baby wispy’s. After this climb, the later gaggles began to see pilots who had tagged the Mesad turn point, flying underneath them in the opposite direction to get the Casa turn point before heading to goal.
There wasn’t a whole lot of turning at this point. Pilots surfed the convergence. Some sped through in race mode while other flew efficiently not wanting to come up short. The Valic brothers had already come and gone at this point, and were likely folding up their wings in goal.
After the Mesad turn point it was all gliding with no turns in the buoyant air to the Casa turn point, and then goal at San Ramon. There were lots of pilots in goal, and everyone agreed it was a beautiful day to be racing with friends in Valle de Bravo.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
The task committee came up with an 85km task into some uncharted territory. We went deep South to the Llano turn point, and crossed over some tiger country on the way back. It’s amazing where we go and how well we fly when we have friends to help us find the way.
We were barely getting to 10k before the start. The Piano was the start with a 1km exit start cylinder. The first pilots to launch had a harder time getting up high enough to make the transition to the Peñón.
The lift was broken and it was hard to find a good sized bubble to climb out in with 50 other people. Pilots made a move to the Peñón with lower altitudes than previous days. Some went around the Peñón and dove in to the wall, while others made a push out in front of the Peñón and got the climbs they needed to bench up on the Mesa.
Things came together on the Mesa, but it was spicy and the edges seemed a bit more ragged than previous days. Pilots hung on and took a beating at Crazy Thermal and the G-spot to get established.
There was a good line of lift out in front of the Crazy Thermal mesa, and pilots were getting just as high out front as pilots who were established on the Mesa. The pilots out front were in a better position for the start.
5 minutes before the start, the lift out front was expiring and the mesa was still giving good steady climbs to just above 10k. Pilots out front hung onto scraps while the Mesa pilots topped it out and tried to time their departure from the Mesa to hit the edge of the start cylinder at 12:45pm.
The Armada made its move and then dove back to the Crazy Thermal mesa where everybody found a steady climb. Pilots topped out these climbs and then made a play for the 3 Reyes (Three Kings) turn point.
The gaggles were quite hectic at the Three Kings turn point as pilots fought for scraps before hitting the turn point to get some terrain clearance. It never really came together very well, and pilots left on glide for the Espina ridge much lower than they would have liked.
Not many pilots came in high enough to get back on the Mesa and were forced to make a play for the halfway point of the steep knife ridge that leads to Espina. There were a handful of pilots that sunk out here. The pilots that got away and found a climb fought hard to survive as they groveled well below Espina.
There was sometimes a climb on the way to Espina from 3 Reyes if you were with a big enough group. This extra climb on the way to Espina gave these pilots the luxury of going over the top of the ridge and some even got a climb there.
Pilots struggled to find climbs on the way to the Llano turn point. The gaggles had to work together and be patient. There was a nice climb on the east end of the town on the way to the Llano turn point where pilots got high again.
The leaders had tagged the Llano turn point and were making their way along the ridge tops of the mountains south of the turn point. The chase gaggle came into the Llano turn point with altitude and pinged out together at this turn point.
This altitude gain at the Llano turn point gave the chase gaggle an opportunity to make up some time and cut the corner avoiding having to go further south into the peaks beyond the Llano turn point.
The chase gaggles glided directly on course line toward Saucos, while some of the leaders lingered off course line looking for lift. The chase gaggle found another climb at a small town on a butte, and got high enough to make the play for the Mesa close to the town where we have used the Mesad turn point on previous days.
There were some pilots who made amazing saves over tiger country on the way, and some who landed in precarious spots. There was one final climb that got pilots high before they made a play for the convergence line setting up beyond Mesad.
The large gaggle made its move and were flying into higher terrain so they found the ground coming up quickly. Some pilots could not reach the convergence and were forced to land before the Saucos turn point.
Those that did find the convergence worked it well then tagged the Saucos turn point. The leaders were now gliding toward the La Casa turn point and had a decision as to whether they would fade to the left over the ridge and hope to find buoyant air, or make a play directly for the La Casa turn point.
A few of the pilots at the top of the leader board wanted to make a less risky choice and fade left over the ridge where there was likely to be lift, while some of the pilots who weren’t in striking distance of the podium had nothing to lose. These pilots made the bold play right for the turn point and it worked. They found a small climb on the direct line to La Casa which gave them enough altitude to tag the turn point and point it straight for goal at San Ramon.
There were approximately 25 pilots in goal. Most pilots who came up a little short were satisfied to have made it as far as they did. There were many low saves 200 feet off the deck on this long task.
It has been an exceptional week of flying. We are hoping for the best going into the final day. We will post results as soon as they are made available.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
There was a little bit of a shake up on the final day of the 2008 Monarca Open. Alijaz Valic had at least a 200 point lead going into the final day. He let the opportunity of becoming champion slip away by landing out at La Casa on the way to the Iglesia turn point.
The shake down means Niviuk swept the podium. All the pilots on the podium were flying Niviuk Icepeak XP’s. Venezuelan Michael Von Watcher (Mickey) should be the 2008 Monarca Open Champion. Americans Eric Reed and Matt Beechinor (Farmer) should take 2nd and third respectively. These results are not official just yet.
Marty DeVietti and Josh Cohn are two other Americans who should end up in the top 10 as well. It was a fantastic week of racing. Here is how the final task played out.
The first pilots to launch were getting decent altitude, and most had no trouble transitioning to the Peñón, The Wall, and Crazy Thermal to get established on the Mesa. Pilots climbed above 10k here well before the start window.
There was some strategy regarding the start today. The task committee designated a 2K enter cylinder around Maguey for the start. Pilots on the Mesa above the Wall and Crazy thermal made a move toward Maguey early.
The idea was to get upwind of the cylinder before the start. This would give pilots a downwind glide into the start cylinder and to the Maguey 400 meter cylinder turn point before heading to the Divisa turn point.
There were a couple pilots who pushed far south down the Three Kings spine hoping to hook a boomer way out front and time it to get a good start by drifting toward the start cylinder while gaining a bunch of altitude.
There were some climbs out front early on but a cirrus layer sort of shut that down, and these pilots came back towards Maguey. The main gaggle was south of the Maguey cylinder before the start. The Armada made its move and pilots tagged the start cylinder then looked for a climb before heading toward Divisa.
Lots of the pilots were high enough to take the Maguey turn point and put in on a glide for Divisa. The wind and ragged thermals were a continuing theme as we made yet another cross towards Divisa. Some of the pilots were higher on the mesa but the convergence hadn’t really developed here.
Most pilots battled low along the rim catching good climbs and pushing on as they began to get weaker. There was a good climb before and at the Divisa turn point. It was amazing to see the leader’s race back so low before the rest of us tagged Divisa.
It was the same scrappy battle to get back to Maguey after tagging Divisa. The leaders were already making the cross over the mesa toward Cerro Gordo or the clouds further south toward Esclares. The chase gaggles got big climbs at Maguey.
After tanking up at Maguey pilots took different lines over the Mesa. There were pilots climbing out in front of Cerro Gordo over Iglesia, and there was a huge cloud to the right on the way to Sacamacate if you could get there high enough. The pilots who skipped Cerro Gordo and went for the cloud made up some time if the connected. There were a few who landed out on top of the Mesa not making the connection.
The pilots who made the climb at Iglesia were now high enough to make the move for the big clouds others had been able to get on a direct glide from Maguey. Everybody tanked up here and got to base before making the glide for the San Ramon turn point.
The line to the right was better on the way to San Ramon. The pilots who did a bit of a dog leg to the right did better as they took the longer route but paid attention to the clouds on the right which made their glide more buoyant. There were even a few of these pilots who climbed a bit more in the lee side of Sacamacate before getting on glide.
Pilots came in low once again to San Ramon. This has been the do or die spot all week, and it played out again today. Pilots circled in zeros hoping to catch hold of the convergence.
Some pilots got it and some pilots had to land. Once in the convergence, pilots climbs to 11k together and went back toward La Casa to get established rather than heading straight for the Iglesia turn point. The convergence was in full swing and it was going off behind Sacamacate.
The more conservative line was to come right in behind Sacamacate and speck out before making a play for the Mesa. It seemed like most pilots who didn’t take the conservative line connected back on to the mesa. However, this was the line that had dirted today’s over all leader Alijaz Valic earlier.
After getting established on the Mesa, pilots had a beautiful cloud street all the way over to Iglesia and making goal was easy at this point. Pilots hit the Iglesia turn point, and then made their way to goal at the Torre turn point before landing at the lake to celebrate.
I predicted the Americans would have a slight advantage here because we make the annual pilgrimage here to compete in the Moncara. This competition has given Americans an opportunity to compete against some of the world best pilots. Congratulations to the all the pilots for flying safe, and working together to make this a safe and fun competition.
We have never seen a field with as much talent and experience at The Monarca Paragliding Open as we have had this year. The organizers have done a wonderful job on every level. We now have two days of rest to prepare for the Pre-Worlds. Check back on Monday for another week of flying from the front line in Valle De Bravo.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit