Award Winning Instruction
2009 Paragliding World Championships - Task 5
January 29th, 2009 – Task 5
As predicted, the Task Committee stretched out the course and made Task 5 the biggest yet of the 2009 Paragliding Worlds. The 114km task had Despue launch set as a 6km exit cylinder once again. The task sent pilots to La Pila, Elefan, Peñon, Tezca1, Escalares, and Quintanilla was goal. The start time was 12:45pm, and goal closed at 5:30pm. Hector Vasquez of Columbia went from the outhouse to the penthouse. He scored minimum distance on task 4 receiving only 22 points, and will surely get 1000 points today by winning task 5 which is the longest and most valid task we have had so far at the 2009 Paragliding Worlds.
Crazy Thermal Mesa is where the gaggle gets high and waits for the start, and today was no different. The gaggle got to 10,500 here, and there were nice clouds early on which gave hope for an epic day. The Armada left plenty high for La Pila, and the long glide allowed the cluster of gliders to separate a bit on the way.
There were some climbs on the way to the La Pila turn point, but some pilots pushed in very low. The leaders arrived and tagged the turn point, got a climb, and got out of there. The leaders headed down wind and did get a climb again after a bit of a downwind run. The chase gaggles seemed to get the turn point then push in deeper and found a monster climb. The leaders ended up getting a good climb, and everything was relative as these two gaggles met up at Three Kings.
Three Kings turned into a desperate death gaggle, and the whole world was there. It got really slow, there were no climbs, and pilots were hanging onto tiny little bubbles hoping to find a big release. Everybody was looking to do the thermal dance but it just wasn’t happening. As this grovel fest continued it seemed like the entire field showed up to join the party. Some pilots finally started to get climbs while others got to stay and play and fester a bit longer losing time on the pilots who had finally connected.
The lead gaggle which was made up of more than half the field at this point moved across the mesa and came into the convergence which was starting to peak as they arrived. These pilots trucked over to Cerro Gordo and most got climbs out in front on the lake side of Gordo.
The convergence was well marked as the clouds lined up nicely. Pilots topped the climb at Gordo and took a line toward the clouds marking the convergence. The clouds were lining up a bit off course line to the right. Some pilots made a bit of a move to cut the corner and go left more on course line to see if they could get a good climb on more of a direct lien to the turn point. They began to get drilled a bit, and turned east and limped back to where the convergence was clearly working.
The climbs were healthy as pilots worked into the convergence and climbed close to base before pushing into the foothills of the ridge which led to the Elefan turn point. One rogue pilot had kept pushing on the direct line to Elefan. He didn’t find anything for a majority of the glide, but finally found a weak bubble that turn into an average climb. The leaders arrived at the turn point before him, but he did make up some time taking this line. This pilot turned out to be Hector Vasquez who would eventually win the day.
The pilots pushed on toward Elefan together, and the cluster of pilots was huge. After following the terrain and clouds to the end of the ridge, they pushed on and tagged the turn point, then turned back to work the same line. The gaggle that formed was enormous, and this group worked it out together and pushed toward San Ramon.
The small clusters of Chase gaggles had the misfortune of seeing the convergence which had been exploding when the leaders drove through starting to fade a bit when they arrived to make a run at Elefan. These pilots had to hang on in zeros at time on the way just to stay high and in the game. The leaders were suffering a bit on the way back after Elefan as well, and the lift that had been there before was not to be found. The line they had taken on the way out was shaded, and not working well. Lots of the world’s best ended up getting really low at or just past San Ramon and decking. It was shaded in and there was wind to deal with in this area.
The chase gaggles saw the festering happening and held the high ground a bit more left of course line, and ended up leap frogging the leaders here. These pilots got high and had a better piece of it when they drove back to the mesa. They got excellent glides through buoyant air as the marched toward Sacamacate, and found a strong convergence on the South side of Sacamacate and the Penitas. With their altitude and line the moves back into the Peñon turn point were much easier.
The chase gaggles who had finally tagged Elefan saw the convergence drying up as they fought to stay in the game. Some landed, while others finessed some nice lines to connected the dots and stay alive. There were late climbs on the small hills between San Ramon and Jovan, which allowed some of the stragglers t hang on and get to Sacamacate for a climb.
The leaders pushed into the mesa right of course line after Sacamacate instead of taking a line right at the Peñon and pinged out to the moon on the mesa at or just before The Wall section of the mesa. The chase gaggles went for this climb and it was gone and fell off to the Peñon to tag the turn point, and hopefully get a big climb. They didn’t get the big climb the leaders had at the Mesa.
The leaders left and raced out on glide, and the chase gaggles fought to push on at lower altitudes and keep them in reach. It wasn’t working as well on the flats, as the chase gaggles festered along trying to make it happen.
The leaders pushed past the edge of the cylinder. They went 2km deeper than they had to for the turn point in order to get up on the higher terrain. They ended up getting a good climb back up to cloud base clear back in the mountains, and then started their journey back. The chase gaggles who festered along did not make the same play. They tagged the edge of the cylinder and turned around and came back. Some pilots pushed into the lee of Llano and got drilled and ended up landing.
The pilots who got up to base on the high terrain had an easier time getting back to the launch area, while the pilots who had tagged the turn point and come back lower made a play for the knob on the Llano side of the big canyon we fly over on the way back to the area around launch. A gaggle dove in here looking for a climb, and two of the lowest pilots in the gaggle didn’t get it and had to peel off into the canyon and land in the trees.
The leaders had arrived at the Peñon zone when all the excitement was happening back at toward the Tezca turn point, and they once again went into fester mode. Pilots have become accustomed to getting up at launch, going to the Peñon zone getting high and heading over the mesa. This is especially true for late afternoon flights. This didn’t work today. The big climb was in the arm pit between launch and the Peñon, back in the corner. Pilots who fished here were ripped into the sky and got high enough to make the play for the Escalares turn point.
Pilots left on glide to the Escalares turn point, and everybody needed more altitude before putting it on final. Hector Vasquez pushed out into the final turn point alone, and surfed a bit before finding the climb that would give him the altitude to win the day. There were a handful of pilots who went on glide a bit early and came up short. There were others who had made it to Escalares but simply ran out of day. They worked weak lift at Escalares but couldn’t find anything that would get them high enough to glide to goal. It seemed like there were just over 40 pilots in goal. Tomorrow with be the last day of racing before we take a one day break for the action, and resume the second half of the 2009 Paragliding Worlds. I imagine they will send the pilots on another long task if the weather lines up once again.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit
Back to Top
Back to Top