Award Winning Instruction
2008 Paragliding Pre Worlds News - Valle De Bravo, Mexico
Day 1 of the 2008 Paragliding Pre-Worlds started with a 75km task. There seemed like a bit more wind today than we had last week during the Monarca Open. I noticed less penetration when pointing toward the Peñón.
Luckily the glide toward the Peñón was buoyant, and there was lift waiting for us when we arrived. Benching to the Mesa above the Wall was easy after getting a nice climb. The wind was ripping some of the thermals up, and it was very spicey at the G-spot and Crazy Thermal.
The clouds set up nice marking the lift for us. There was a fair bit of drift from the NW on the Crazy Thermal mesa as we were getting to just under 11K. There were nice clouds setting up between the Crazy Thermal mesa and the Piano, as pilots made sure to stay close to the edges and avoid being eaten up by a cloud.
Everybody was pretty high just before the start, and almost everyone was able to tag the 1km exit cylinder at the Piano then race back to the Crazy Thermal mesa for a climb. The thermals were ripping and it was fairly hectic with the armada trying to find some cohesiveness as we climbed to base together just after the start.
It was evident that the head wind was stronger than other days as we made the glide for the Three Kings and Maguey to get a climb on the way to the Divisa turn point. We left on glider higher than other days, but the headwind didn’t allow us to capitalize too much on our altitude.
Some pilots got a climb at Maguey, but there was lots of drift with this climb. Others dove toward the slot between Three Kings and Maguey. Some got a climb while others just kept pushing. There were decent climbs out in front of the Mesa. You had to be careful not to get too deep and risk getting pinned.
Pilots battled toward Divisa, and we found good climbs up on the Mesa the closer we got to the Divisa turn point. Most pilots got high before the turn point, and then tagged it and made the run for the Stamar turn point. Some pilot got good climbs at the Divisa turn point as well under nice clouds.
There were weak climbs on the way to Stamar, and people stuck together for the most part to help each other mark the lift. Some pilots tanked up right after getting the Stamar turn point, while other dove for the Three Kings ridge.
The pilots who came in low here scratched to find something to hang onto. It was working in the lee of the Three Kings ridge, and pilots climbed nice here. Some pilots took this climb and made a play for the ridge at the Three Kings turn point in hopes of connecting then drifting into Maguey for another nice climb to base.
This didn’t work as well as the lee side. Some pilots lost time and got stuck here looking for something that would get them high enough to cross the Mesa. It seemed there was a little convergence happening behind the Three Kings ridge, and the lee was the place to be.
Most finally got climbs and tried to catch up a bit. The sky was really dark and you could see pilots in the distance working weak lift near base. It seemed like most pilots did a dog leg to tag the San Ramon turn point. They stayed high on the Mesa, swung by Sacamacate, and followed this around to the San Ramon turn point.
The dark clouds made a nice buoyant path which took longer to fly, but ended up being a safe bet for those who got their early enough to take advantage. Some later pilots took a line directly from Cerro Gordo following the edge of the sun line toward San Ramon.
The climbs here were pretty weak but they were drifting right toward the turn point. These pilots ended up making it to San Ramon at the same time and height as pilots who had taken the longer route at this point in the day.
There was a headwind as pilots pushed toward the Iglesia turn point. The late arrivals were running out of day. Some pilots did a good job of down shifting and getting a good slow climb before making a move for Iglesia. A handful of these pilots push into Iglesia and made goal.
There were a few gaggles that had to climb at Iglesia before heading for goal, but for the most part pilots were arriving at Iglesia with enough to make goal on glide.
The clouds were nice today, and the stronger wind made for an active day early on. Things softened up a bit when the shade arrived, and the tempo of the day really changed. Things always seem so much softer and kinder on the east side of the Mesa. Lots of happy pilots in goal. Hope we get more of the same tomorrow with a little less wind.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
Photos provided by Thia Konig Photography.
Task 2 Map
75K task set for Day 2 of the Paragliding Pre-Worlds in Valle De Bravo with a 1km exit cylinder at Espina. It was nice to have less wind to deal with today, and there were nice clouds forming long before we got the task at the pilots meeting. The day looked as though it had the potential to overdevelop. There were some big clouds with strong lift but there was always enough sun to keep us climbing and racing.
Pilots were getting to just under 11K before the start. You had to work to stay out of the clouds. They were lined up from the Peñón to Espina. Everybody would get into a core and take it to a few hundred feet before base then run for the edge to avoid the white room.
We had lots of cloud surfing on the edges just before the start. Pilots were thermaling in the start cylinder at the start. Some pilots on the south side of the clouds that had set up between Espina and Crazy Thermal mesa had to get on big ears with speed bar to avoid the whiteness before heading to the Three Kings turn point.
The armada came into the Three Kings turn point and most got a nice steady climb right away. Some pilots had taken a line more to the east and climbed above Maguey, but it wasn’t really worth it with the drift. The best climbs were more to the west. Pilots got up and got out on glide to the south toward the Llano turn point.
The leaders made a move toward Espina while other realized they had taken more of a climb and were high enough to come back on top of the Crazy Thermal mesa. The pilots who had gone for Espina dog legged back to the left after clearing Espina. These pilots stayed south and had a decent climb.
Other leaders made a move more to the left and glided directly toward the Llano turn point and found a nice climb on the way. There was drift from the SW for everybody. The pilots who stayed more to the west had the better line. The pilots who took the glide directly on course line were now drifting a bit east off course line to the Llano turn point.
There were a couple of pilots who pushed hard to the SW well upwind of course line trying to reach a nice cloud that was developing. These pilots got a nice climb over the small town. This gave these pilots a quartering wind and a fast track toward the Llano turn point after they finished this climb. They needed one more climb before getting to the Llano turn point and got it.
The pilots who were east of course line eventually took the Llano turn point, and went for the big climb over the peak south of the Llano turn point but there was no love to be found. These pilots left the Llano turn point and went on glide lower than they would have liked. This was a large gaggle that made its move together.
The pilots who had the quartering wind finished a big climb, Tagged Llano then came back to find another nice climb over the town between the Piano and the Llano turn point. These pilots got to base and the clouds reached far enough to the north to allow them to glide toward the Crazy Thermal mesa, or the Peñón.
Meanwhile, the pilots who had taken lift and drifted east of course line were finally getting up further to the east. These pilots took a glide toward Launch. Some of them needed climbs to make a play for the Peñón or the Mesa behind The Wall, and some had tanked up enough in a climb to make it on glide.
The pilots coming from the cloud that was a few kilometers south of the Piano went on glide wanting to get to the nice cloud development on the Mesa behind the Wall and the G-spot. Pilots who took the line over the Peñón seemed to get more love than those who went for Crazy Thermal, but everybody here eventually got up and on course towards Cerro Gordo.
The two different lines pilots took to get to the Llano turn point and come back toward Cerro Gordo were completely different, but everybody arrived back at the Mesa around the same time after all that strategy. Pilots took good climbs on the Mesa behind the Wall and the G-spot then made a play for Cerro Gordo.
People were getting climbs at Cerro Gordo, but it was looking like some pilots might deck on the way. You could see pilots low, hanging onto scraps on the Mesa hoping to get high enough to get to Cerro Gordo.
Some pilots found a nice climb on the way between Cerro Gordo and Escalares. This climb took these pilots to base before they left for the Cerro Gordo turn point. The others who made the glide all the way to Cerro Gordo from the Mesa behind The Wall made there way toward the La Casa turn point and had some nice markers to show there where the strong cores were located.
Pilots got to base after tagging Cerro Gordo and made a move back toward La Casa. Those who weren’t that high made a good move to hold the high ground and push into the sun on the Mesa. There were good clouds above the Mesa. It was just a matter of having enough altitude to push into the lift before you bombed out.
Most of these pilots got to the lift and climbed to base in some good lift. Pilots got to about 10K then made the move for La Casa. Pilots had enough altitude at this point to go for goal at Torre.
Some pilots held a line to the left hoping to stay out of the wind on the lake and get a more buoyant glide being closer to the Mesa. We saw one of the lead gaggles make a play from La Casa too low, and some of these pilots didn’t arrive high enough to tag the Torre turn point. The wind on the lake was light and there was no ridge soaring to be had.
As we got closer, we could see the wind on the lake was actually very calm and wasn’t going to be a factor. Pilots got busy mashing the speed for the race to goal. It seemed like at least 50 pilots were in goal.
We are getting epic conditions in Valle for the competitions this year. Let’s hope it continues. Team USA was in the top spot today followed by the Czechs. We will post results as soon as they become available.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
Photos provided by Thia Konig Photography.
Task 3 Map
So with 85 people in goal yesterday, the task committee wanted to make things a little more difficult on Day 3. They called a 93km task, and sent us deep again. There were pilots spread out all over the course, and approximately 35 went the distance making goal.
They moved the start up 15 minutes to 12:30 pm since it was going to be a long day of flying, and gave us a 3K enter cylinder at The Three Kings for the start. Pilots were not getting very high today before leaving for the Peñón zone to connect. I don’t think anybody got above 8,800 feet before making the move.
It was a below average day at the Peñón. Thermals weren’t going off like they normally do for us anywhere around the Peñón. It was good to get on the Mesa and stay there once you were established. Most folks ended up hanging at Crazy Thermal mesa and further west toward Espina getting to just under 11K.
The mesa behind the wall was working as well, but not to many pilots were tanking up there. Most probably thought the line was going to be better coming from the Crazy Thermal mesa into the start at The Three Kings.
Pilots who were working the Crazy Thermal mesa and Espina took a direct line to the Three Kings turn point. There wasn’t much action when pilots who were high enough to tag the turn point arrived. The head wind was strong, and pilots continued to push past the Three Kings low hoping to get something.
Pilots who were climbing at the mesa above The Wall took a line towards Maguey at the start and drifted into a nice climb, which had them fairly well establish on the Mesa toward Divisa initially. This altitude was used up quickly as they bucked the headwind on the way to the Divisa turn point.
Big climbs were discovered as pilots pushed away from the Mesa. There was a good bubble out front about halfway between the Three Kings and Divisa turn points. Windy conditions down low made it hard, and pilots fought get small climbs and push on towards the Divisa turn point.
Some of the field was able to bench up onto the Mesa before Divisa and get nice climbs before tagging the turn point. There weren’t any big climbs at the turn point, but pilots grabbed a big one back on the Mesa and topped it out before getting on glide to the Lapila turn point.
Gliding to Lapila was pretty easy. Pilots got a few small climbs on the way, and some came in low before the turn point, but everybody got a really nice climb at the Lapila turn point. We tanked up on this big one and got as high as we could before leaving on glide toward Espina.
Most pilots got back high enough at Espina to get established. Some who came in lower had to fight to get back up. A few pilots took a bold line right at the back side of Crazy Thermal, and arrived with just enough altitude for it to work.
Once you were up on the Crazy Thermal mesa and the mesa behind The Wall, the climbs were great. We all took these climbs and got to base before heading to the Sacamacate turn point. It came together really nice at Sacamacate and we made the move for Iglesia.
Gliding was nice on the convergence and clouds were popping on the way to Iglesia. There were some pilots climbing past the Iglesia turn point. This gave them a nice chunk of altitude as they made a move toward goal at LZ3309 which was over 35km away.
Some pilots made a move directly for the sweet spot at San Ramon where the convergence has been setting up for pilots who are low and looking for love over the past two weeks. Others kept the Mesa within reach and pushed into the air that was lifting in that area.
As we approached San Ramon, it was light and looked a bit desperate. We circled in the weak stuff before it came together. We needed more altitude, and the climbs were still weak. Three pilots flew in from the south and marked the convergence line between Mesad and San Ramon. Pilots at San Ramon push into the convergence and got a really nice climb.
We all got to base and made a move for the ridge just before the big mesa with the small air strip which we have used as an LZ for goal in the past. There was a very nice climb at this ridge and we got together and worked it well.
There were pilots who had taken the more northerly route from San Ramon as well. They went into the peaks behind Saucos and got some nice climbs and followed the ridges along the peaks.
After the climb at the ridge before the Mesa, we had a nice glide into the next prominent peak on the left. There was a good climb on the spine and we worked it well together. Conditions were getting weaker, and the wind seemed to be picking up as we topped out this climb and went out on glide.
As we approached the next spine, we were about 8km from goal. Thermals were weaker and being torn up by the wind as we glided toward goal. Some pilots got low and dropped into a layer of air that was windy and sinky. Most of these pilots landed at the small town of San Francisco short of goal.
Others hung on and were able to get a climb and squeak into goal. There were pilots who chose to land before goal because the wind conditions seemed unsafe. Pilots were going backwards as they came into goal, and some were helping disable the landing pilot’s wing once they touched down. Most everybody who landed was covered in dirt after being victimized by the wind.
Except for the wind at the end of the day, this was an exceptional day of flying. Tomorrow is supposed to be more high pressure with less humidity so they may shorten the track for us a bit. Friday and Saturday’s forecasted conditions look good, and they could send us deep again. We will post results as soon as they are made available.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
Photos provided by Thia Konig Photography.
Task 4 Map
There was a bit of high pressure today, and some ripping winds. The Task Committee called a 75km task with a 1km enter cylinder around the start TP Stater. Stater is just west of Espina and north of Cerpel.
Cloud base was forecasted to be around 9,500’, but at The Wall before the start, the climbs were topping over 10,500’. Some made the move to the start cylinder early hoping to climb over the flats. Some found it while others floundered and had to make the return trip to Epina low. The lower level SW winds were the biggest battle when making the return connection.
Lots of pilots got really low but amazingly got back up on The Wall or over the flats and specked out close to 11k. The next TP was Jovan (Jov218), which meant you could go straight over the Mesa or over launch to make the connection to Sacame which is the best jump point to Jovan. The winds were at our back so making the glide to Sacame was fairly easy. Whichever route you took to get to Sacame seemed to work and once there you were easily boosted to over 11k.
Making the Jovan TP meant pushing out North over the flats that rarely work early on so the trick was to get stinkin' high, tag the TP and make the return trip to Sacame with one glide. Almost all the pilots made the return trip easily and were rewarded with fat convergence the put us all up over 11k again. The easy part was over and it was time to put it in reverse and head to the next TP (Aquila).
Aguila is further South than Stater, so basically we were retracing our steps and again gliding over the flats with a hope and prayer that it would be working on the other side. The great glide and tail wind that got us to Jovan so easily made it a little difficult to get back over The Wall. Speed bar was a must and there were plenty of gliders practicing origami; it was a bit dicey. Of course, once you made it through turbulence and a bit of rotor there were strong thermals waiting on the other side and once again it was a quick trip to 11k. The trip was quick but it included plenty of Kung-Fu fighting. There were definitely thermals along The Wall that were best avoided.
At this point, there were gliders everywhere you looked so it was just a game of connecting the dots. You could make the glide to the Aguila TP from The Wall, but it would put you there very low, even from 11k. Some did just that while others played it safe and tanked up along the way. Half the lead gaggle tagged the TP and headed straight back very low. Still don’t know how many actually made it from that group. The rest played it smart and connected at various places making it back to The Wall or over launch to tank up for the last leg of the course.
The last TP, which was goal, was RAM232 which slammed us in reverse once again. The usual places for lift on the way back to goal weren’t firing like normal so picking your line was critical. Patience was the name of the game and there were plenty of gliders hitting the deck.
The final glide was fast and most were stomping the bar tempting fate. There was at least one reserve toss on the final glide and several gliders were blowing up along the way. It was a very fun day and the rumor is that over 70 pilots made goal today. Another day – another task, this place just keeps pumping out flyable days.
Dean Stratton reporting from the pit
Photos provided by Josh Waldrop.
Task 5 Map
The three Eagle Team pilots representing the United States are Eric Reed, Matt Beechinor, and Josh Cohn. The official web site has not been posting results for some reason, but they have started printing the team results and bringing the team results sheet to launch in the morning. We will be sure to post the team results now that they are available in the morning on the board.
Team USA was in first place after task 1, 3, and 4. They dropped to 4th place after task 2, but flew well enough on Task 3 and 4 to get the top spot back. With all three Eagle Team pilots in goal on Day 5, Team USA should have the lead in the team competition going into the final day of racing at the Pre Worlds.
Big tasks are usually never called on the final day of a competition since they need to have everyone back in town at a decent hour for the awards ceremony. Today was the task committee’s last chance to call a big one. The came up with a 101km task that sent us further than we have gone all week, and once again pilots answered the call.
Timing on the start was pushed up to 12:30 pm since the task was going to be a long one. We needed as much of the day as we could get. Three Kings was set as the 3km enter cylinder. Thermals were ripping during the launch window. Some pilots got up straight away while others surfed in between the big releases.
There was a fair amount of SE winds to deal with as pilots got established on the Mesa between the Wall and Crazy Thermal. You were either going up in strong lift or getting drilled in sink and wind. There hasn’t been a day in the last two weeks where pilots have been close to 11K, and dropped thousands of feet in a couple of moments in the wrong spot.
Pilots were scanning the sky at the start looking for the clouds to tell where the next pulse was exploding for pilots to dive into and climb. Some pushed out to the south were we saw wispys turn into nice clouds. Some of the pilots who spent a few moments in the sink and wind ended up low and some never got back in the game.
7 or 8 minutes before the start, pilots were looking for the last good climb. The clouds were everywhere above the Mesa, and we had to be careful with so many wanting a piece of the lift feeding the clouds. Pilots were willing to let the SE wind drift them toward the 3Reyes start cylinder at this point. With this much time left, we could take the drift and then get the start instead of having to dive back into the SE wind and get another ripper on the Mesa.
We were at 11K when we all took the start. Most everyone was high and in good position as the Armada made it move toward Three Kings. Some took a climb at the turn point, while others tagged 3Reyes, and turned toward the Lapila turn point.
There were a few who stopped to climb on the way but most of the leaders took a line toward Lapila without turning. There was a good line further to the south of the turn point, and pilots noticed and made the adjustment.
Lapila has been wicking the past two weeks, and today was no different. Some came in high, while others dove in low, but we all were yanked skyward in some strong lift. The leaders topped it out and went on glide while the others flew into the lift zone marked by the leaders and got some good climbs of their own.
We followed the main ridge line of the mountain range as we pushed toward the Llano turn point. Some of the leaders were being drilled as they took a line to the windward (right) side of the mountain range. Other pilots who were behind these leaders took a line more in the lee and this is where we found the big climbs.
We continued to push and climb toward the Llano turn point. The lead gaggle was pushing hard and separating themselves form the rest of the chase gaggles. They were not topping out the climbs. They would get to a certain height then point it towards Llano and mash the bar.
This turned out to be the way this race needed to be run. Pilots who took the more conservative approach tanking up on every climb ended up running out of day by the time they got back to the Mesa where the Sacamacate and the Cerro Gordo turn points are located.
Llano wasn’t giving much love to the leaders. They tagged the turn point but groveled there waiting for a release which never came. The wind out of the SE was easily 20 mph and it was pinning pilots at the turn point. Finally, they gave up and dove over the back into the lee. They glided for a bit with no action, but finally flew into a sweet climb.
Chase gaggles made their play for Llano too. It was evident that the lead gaggle had no luck getting a big climb at Llano, and the chase crew hoped things would be different when they arrived at the turn point. Unfortunately, they were met with the same strong wind the leaders had to deal with at the Llano turn point.
Some pilots who arrived at Llano much later reported climbs in the area, but not at the turn point where we had been finding them all week. This made the play north to tag the Sacamacate turn point a bit more desperate until pilots got some altitude. Plenty of pilots hit the dirt after the Llano turn point. The high winds wouldn’t allow pilots to climb out so all you could do was to dive into the lee low and hope for some scraps of lift along the way. Those who found lift had a difficult time staying in it with the strong drift. The big gaggles had been broken up at this point since everyone was in survival mode and all that was seen along the course line was small groups working whatever they could find. This continued all the way to the launch area where the gaggled reformed and plenty of pilots were getting back up to cloud base.
Sacamacate was the next turn point and getting to it seemed fairly easy with all the high terrain to follow and lots of pilots to mark the lift. Next along the course line was Saucos and it was downwind following the normal convergence line. Pilots were starting to mash the bar and at this point with the hardest part of the course already complete.
Cloud base was close to 12k and pilots were specking out not wanting to take any chances this far into the game. Tagging Saucos was the easy part but reversing direction to come back to Cerro Gordo, which was the next turn point, was a little dicey. Making the return trip to get back up on the Mesa was all about staying high and picking the most buoyant line you could find.
Fortunately, the glide back to the Mesa was fairly buoyant for most and it led pilots right back into the convergence line on their way to Cerro Gordo. Most pilots only had to get to cloud base at this point and navigate the convergence to glide to Cerro Gordo and all the way back without turning too much. The tricky part was making sure you were able to take advantage of the convergence line while there was time. Normally as the day wanes the usual convergence line begins to dry out and the thermals are less frequent and broken up due to the normal late day high valley winds.
Since this task was so long the lead gaggles were running this last leg of the course right about the time the convergence line begins to break down. Fortunately, the convergence was working well and allowed most of the lead gaggles to move quickly along the course.
Today’s goal was Ramona (ram232) and once again you had to reverse direction after Cerro Gordo for the final leg of the course. The final leg seemed to have an 8-10 mph tail wind so all you really needed to do was hold on to your altitude by working the convergence line and your chances of making goal were very good.
The final glide to goal was made up of 4 or 5 pilots about 5 minutes in front of the next large gaggle of pilots consisting of 20-30 pilots all stuffing the bar and praying their gliders stayed open. There were a couple of pilots that came up short on the final glide but the rest came in at about 3½ hours; pretty fast for a 101km task.
Most of the top US pilots made goal again which should help us retain the top spot for the nations standings. Approx. 40 pilots made goal at last count although there may be more. The convergence line started to break down soon after the first gaggles came in so making goal would be difficult for the stragglers, I doubt many more squeaked in.
Tomorrows forecast looks very similar to today’s, so it should be a good day for racing.
Photos provided by Thia Konig Photography.
Task 6 Map
We owe a huge thanks to the team at Alas De Hombres for running an organized, high quality competition. This group deserves the Worlds bid, and you can be certain there is going to be a lot of flying during the 2009 event.
Team results for the Pre-Worlds are official. We mistakenly reported that team USA was in the lead going into the final day. France was actually in the lead going into Day 6, and USA was in second place. Eagle team pilots Josh Cohn, Matt Beechinor, and Eric Reed brought home the gold for the USA. Matt and Len Szafaryn tied for first place on the 6th and final task. Josh Cohn took 4th overall, and Brad Gunnuscio took 5th overall.
Good conditions once again today here in Valle. We were kept on the Valle side of the Mesa for our racing today. Keeping us local gave the organization time to prepare for the awards ceremony and party.
Piano was set as the 1km exit cylinder for the 58km task on our final day. We had nice climbs and lighter winds early. Those early to launch in the window were getting to 9K before making the move for the Peñón.
There was more wind than anticipated on the way to the Peñón, and early arrivals searched everywhere for a big climb. Small cores could be found, but there wasn’t anything big and strong to be found at the Wall or at the Peñón for early arrivals.
Things finally kicked into gear and the Peñón gave us some good climbs, and allowed pilots to make a move to get established on the mesa behind the Wall. Some made a play for the Crazy Thermal mesa and Espina, and we saw a majority of them getting good climbs here 10 minutes before the start.
Clouds were starting to form over the Mesa behind the Wall, and a handful of pilots took advantage getting to base while enjoy less crowded conditions. Pilots hung out at base then made the move for the start cylinder with 2 minutes to go.
After tagging the start everyone made a move for the Despue turn point. Most took the turn point then pointed it at the Peñón. The Mesa behind the Wall seemed like the best spot to get a climb for the glide to the Cerro Gordo turn point.
Some took the high road and went straight for the Mesa behind the Wall, and this small group eventually got up and out and saved some time. Early arrivals at the Peñón beamed skyward in a good climb and benched up the Mesa behind the Wall with ease.
Penetration was an issue on this trip to the Peñón. Ground speeds were as low as 8mph as the late arrivals pushed into the Peñón. The big climbs the early arrivals had enjoyed were gone, and this part of the field went into search mode.
Pilots were looking for a good one to get up on the Mesa, but things were bleak at the Wall, and in front of the Peñón. It eventually came together between the Wall and the Peñón, and pilots were relieved to finally be getting established.
Once on the Mesa behind the Wall it came together nicely. Pilots circled together attempting to dial in the cores. The leaders were already into the high part of a climb when the chase gaggles left on glide for the Cerro Gordo turn point with almost 11K.
Leaders were leaving the Cerro Gordo turn point after a big climb as the chase gaggles arrived. Cerro Gordo gave a nice climb to the chase gaggles, and the pilots tanked up on altitude before leaving.
Hanging onto the edge of the Mesa on the glide worked well. Pilots bucked a headwind on the way. Weak climbs were beginning for those who had arrived at Esclares, and the leaders could be seen topping it out at cloud base behind Sacamacate before leaving on glide for the Mesad turn point.
Chase gaggles pushed into the wind and sun on the mesa side of Escale. Pilots were also climbing in the lee of Escale. Eventually these groups got to base before making a move for the Mesad turn point.
Choosing the right line to Mesad turned out to be crucial. At 100 meters to the left or right of the course line made a huge difference in the glides pilots got on the way to the Mesad turn point. Some neglected to take additional climbs on the way to Mesad in the convergence over the junk yard. Many pilots decked who neglected to tank up and were unable to find the right line.
Saucos was giving decent climbs to lead gaggles, and the cloud street pushed from Saucos to San Ramon as the leaders finished these climbs and put it on glide the Colora turn point then for the back side of the Mesa. Chase gaggles were coming in lower than they wanted at Mesad, and some decked looking for the draw into the convergence.
Those who did get into the convergence took the lift to base which was at almost 12K. Buoyant glides were found on the way to the Colora turn point. Chase gaggles looked west to the leaders festering in the lee side of the Mesa. They weren’t getting a climbs as they waited in zeros for something to pulse.
Chase gaggles made up time here, and were able to come into the Colora turn point high, and make a glide into the lee of the Mesa where the leaders were waiting for something to release.
Things started to come together for the leaders as chase gaggles were about halfway to the Mesa. Pilots in chase dove into the lee and worked light thermals as the leaders topped out and made their move for the Iglesia turn point.
Things came together nicely for chase gaggles in the lee, and most that arrived high enough got steady climbs which took them above 10K. Chase kept an eye on the leaders and they hit the Iglesia turn point to see if there was climb to be had. Leaders kept on pressing and there was no stopping.
Pena was the final turn point across the lake before goal at Torre. The leaders got into race mode and went for it. A huge group of leaders pushed onto the Pena turn point then hooked a right turn and pointed it toward goal. They all had the altitude to get there and it was quite a site.
Meanwhile, the chase gaggles had come into Iglesia and needed more altitude to make the Pena turn point and Goal. A small group pushed back onto the Mesa and looked for a climb to get the height they needed to make the turn point and goal. Others made a play for Pena and found a climb in the lee of the peaks north of Iglesia which gave them the altitude to make goal, and saved them some time. There seemed to be at least 70 pilots in goal.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit.
Photos provided by Thia Konig Photography.