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Jun 25

Written by: Jeff O'Brien
6/25/2009 10:44 PM 

We went to Aspres' launch up north about 25km. An amazing launch with room for a thousand gliders and a "sound of music" rolling yodeling feel.

They called a 125 km task cross/tail down to the south well past Sisterone, and then back to camping.



Last year on Aspres, I stuck some flowers in my wires and made goal. I employed the same tactic yesterday.

I got off reasonably early, found great lift out in the middle of the valley and pressed way upwind with Balaz in an effort to get in prime position for the start.

Things worked out well. Everyone on the US team took the first start and I hung back for the second. There were about thirty of us milling around cloud base and it seemed the race was on. Lift was quite strong and the first couple of thermals took nerve to go for it in the crowd. I chose to not battle in the death gaggle and tried to find strong cores off to the side. I just wasn't gaining ground on pilots.

After the first turnpoint, I pressed ahead in an effort to catch up. I hit the strongest "wire slap" I've ever experienced. For two full seconds I was in free fall. The harness main went slack and I clamped down on the basetube. I had time to look over and see the vario hovering at a 45 degree angle at the mount hinge. I came down with a jolt to the main and a thwang. It frazzled me.



The flowers after an afternoon in the sky.

There were gliders climbing above, but I couldn't find a core. I took my lumps and ran way off courseline to the mountains. I knew there'd be lift over there despite being way off course.

The wind wasn't hitting the peaks perpendicularly, and I had to battle in the bowls. FINALLY 1000fpm broke off the highest peak, but it petered out earlier than I'd hoped. I kept moving around the range working windward faces. I was alone.

It stayed junky for a long time. I was getting dejected and just couldn't stay in the altitude power band. I tried to focus on just staying in the air and going how ever far off courseline it took to stay in the mountains. Eventually I got high again 12km before the second turnpoint and got round and back to the peaks.



I noticed I was now catching up. Our final leg into the wind would be a carbon copy of our last leg yesterday. I was intent on following the path I'd run the day before. The climbs were mostly in the same places. There was a gaggle of a dozen or more working junky lift over my head and I pressed in deeper where I'd hit a ripper yesterday and was rewarded with 1000fpm for a few turns. All the others dove in just above me.



This contraption showed up at camping last night. I'll take it.

It wasn't enough to overtake the gaggle, but I was making up ground. The headwind was a bit more today and the lift was a bit lighter, so we hung on and milked 300fpm over the last "shark fin" hill before the final valley crossing to goal.

I had 6.2 to 1 to goal and hit 1000fpm down. I wasn't going to make it! Hung on and arrived over the line in ground effect.

Airtime: 4:30. Miles: 75. Flights: 1.

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