Award Winning Instruction
2009 Paragliding World Championships - Task 6
January 30th, 2009 – Task 6
We delayed our report of Task 6 in order to pay respect to Stefan Schmoker who suffered a fatal incident on Task 6. Stefan had a deflation which turned into a cravat in a precarious spot just east of the Wall behind the Peñon. The area was very challenging for emergency services to access and transport Stefan. His injuries were very serious, and nothing could be done to save him regardless of the timing of any rescue attempt. Austrian pilot Helmut Eichholzer somehow managed to land near Stefan in challenging conditions and terrain to help. Our deepest condolences go out to Stefan’s family and friends. Stefan was an amazing pilot and person, and we will miss his spirit and smile.
Task 6 was an 87.5km task which had Cerpel set as a 1km exit start at 12:45pm. The turn points were Despue launch, St Augustine, Santa Maria, Aguila, Cualte as a 4km end of speed section, and Valle as goal.
Pilots were reporting strong east wind at altitude before the start window, and the air was fairly turbulent compared to previous competition days. As the task started, pilots took a few different lines to the Despue turn point. The largest part of the gaggle had been blown of Crazy Thermal Mesa from the strong SE flow. Others had managed to stay upwind a bit on the mesa, and a third group was well upwind of Cerpel, and this group of pilots took a line from the start cylinder directly back towards launch.
This turned out to be the best line, and a few of these pilots got a climb as soon as they arrived at the Despue turn point, and got high enough to make a play towards Sacamacate and got a climb half way there to become the lead gaggle. The others came back to launch on a line over the Peñon. They wanted a piece of what the leaders had on the way to Sacamacate but after pushing toward the mesa from launch they realized they weren’t going to connect and had to push back toward The Wall from a position well north of launch we call the armpit. They got the climb at The Wall, a put it on glide towards the next turn point.
This group got a climb that gave them enough altitude to make a move for St. Augustine. They found a climb at Escalares, and got a crummy glide over to Maguey in an attempt to tank up some altitude before continuing on to Santa Maria. Everybody got super low and in the lee at Maguey very tight on the trees pushing around the corner. These pilots eventually pinged out. Another gaggle made a move for Crazy Thermal, and others were low and had to try and find a low save on the mesa.
Part of the group that got high at Maguey pushed out toward Three Kings, while others from this group stuck on the Mesa towards Divisa and had a much better line going out into the flats. The group from Crazy Thermal made a play at Santa Maria. All three of these groups ended up coming together at the Santa Maria turn point around the same time at about the same altitude.
All these pilots got as high as they could after tagging the Santa Maria turn point, and battled a 20-25km/h head wind as they pushed toward the Aguila turn point. This was a tough leg, and people arrived low at the ridge at Aguila, and some had to try and battle in the lee to find a lee side thermal.
The leaders arrived high and were able to get a great climb over the town and go to base. Half of this group went off course to the right towards Crazy Thermal to get to a cloud that was forming and got up to base again. The other half went to the left on a line between Diente and Cerpel and got very low. These lower pilots ended up getting a booming climb and would become the day’s winners. Some of this group went straight from this climb to Cualte, and a few stopped to tank up a bit at Maguey.
The other group at Crazy Thermal wasn’t getting the big climb, and they saw pilot getting it at Maguey so they got off the mesa and made the play for the climbs happening at Maguey. Some of these pilots stayed at Maguey climbing for a bit too long losing some time. It turned out a 13 to 1 would have worked just fine from Maguey to hit the 4km end of speed section at Cualte and glide to goal in Valle.
Rob Sporrer reporting from the pit
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