After much deliberation the task setting committee finally chose a 88km cat’s cradle task around the valley in light of the fact that there were some interesting looking lenticulars over the hills to the north.
Race start was at 1350 and I was off at 1300, heading east along the ridge where I found a nice climb up to base by the antennas. The next 40 minutes were great fun, flying round the sides of clouds – really spectacular with a mass of other brightly coloured gliders. Come 1350 I had lost 200-300 ft compared to many others and by the time I reached TP1 at the eastern end of the ridge I could see a mass of gliders above and behind me. The next TP was at the western end of the ridge but my lack of height meant that I couldn’t keep to the upper ridge so I had to make a dash for the lower ridge when it got a bit flat in the middle. I found a decent climb after a bit and rejoined the main ridge but by now there were fifty gliders in front of me!
But then came reports over the radio that a pilot had come down under his reserve on the ridge, and sure enough there he was, stuck precariously on a small ledge. I pressed on to the next TP, bagged it, then a few minutes later the task was stopped because it was clear that the rescuers wouldn’t be able to get to the pilot except by chopper.
Turns out the pilot was my friend Mike Coupe and that he broke four ribs when he “landed”, but apart from that was pretty much ok.
Rather than land immediately (the day was too nice not to free fly), I crossed over to the south of the valley and after spending half an hour in weak lee side lift (the wind was from the SW and rolling down over the hill), I managed to get enough height to glide over to the high point at the Pont d’Àger hotel, and boom, straight up to base at 6,500ft in a 4-5 m/s climb. I joined five eagles/vultures at one point – what a privilege…
I spent the next hour or so exploring the area, and managed to push out to the lake to the west and back to Ager, spending some time playing in the weakish lee side thermals. I eventually landed after three hours in the air – great practice for tomorrow!
Ager Task 2
Wow, what a day! Five hours in the air only to land 7km short of goal! But what a great flight – it had everything, lovely smooth climbs in the flats, strong climbs on the ridges, difficult low snotty into wind sections, strong lee side climbs, relaxing UK XC flying when I was on my own, and finally getting drilled after the last turnpoint, having a 4km walk out, and finally getting back to the campsite at 2300 after a two hour search for a couple of pilots who landed high up in the hills behind Isona. And there was some food and free beer put aside for us at the official BBQ – can’t be bad 🙂
Turns out only 16 pilots made it into goal on the beach by the lake to the north of Tremp and my 20th place overall was good enough for 1st place in sports class – ye-hah!
Mind you, it could have all been very different – getting to the into-wind “Crux” turnpoint was very difficult, and involved a couple of low saves and a lot or persistence. But the lee side climb out back up to 1800m with half a dozen vultures was very special indeed!
Ager Task 3
We were hoping for a 50km dirty downwind dash but it was canned before window open due to the wind on launch and at altitude… Fingers crossed for tomorrow.