Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ager World Cup Task 2, August 23

The official website with results and live tracking etc can be found here.

I DNF'd today; a hard decision to make (I've only DNF'd 1 or 2 times in my comp career, and never at a World Cup) and definitely not what the majority of the pilots here chose.

Today's task was changed due to the east winds not abating like they were supposed to, so the new task was essentially over the back to Castejon, with a turnpoint in Isona to the east to stretch things out.  By the time the task was changed and the window opened, it was quite late (after 1pm), by which point the launch was getting quite windy.

Ever since getting to Ager I've found the launch winds to be quite do-able, albeit on the strong side the later you wait.  Today while there was plenty of drama with the usual comp-wings-launching-in-high-winds hoopla, there were also plenty of lulls that were quite sane if you were willing to wait for them.  Launching earlier would have alleviated much of this (although in all fairness to the task committee, the winds didn't do what they were forecast so changing the task made sense).

I wasn't comfortable with the current launch conditions so I opted to watch and wait. Pilots were calling level 2 on the ridge, and level 1 out in front on the flats, in keeping with the ridge compressing the wind and making it worse close in.  It did actually calm down on launch quite a bit after the majority of pilots took off, but my decision to DNF had more to do with the route of the task and not the launch conditions: I felt a section of the task was unsafe (at least for me; others will likely have a differing opinion). Since the ridge was producing all the trouble, it seemed like a good idea to avoid it (which pilots were doing after taking off by staying out front).  But after the start the task was supposed to take us over the back in the lee of this same ridge , on the way to a turnpoint that I also suspected was in the lee.

Now admittedly, I have limited experience flying in this area and am not familiar with its micrometeorology, but this didn't sound like a good idea. The rest of the course seemed fine in my opinion...in fact I imagine the further north you went towards Castejon and the higher terrain, the nicer and higher pilots would get.  But I wasn't prepared to deal with the potential nastiness of the ridge and flying into the lee at the beginning of the course (although I could be totally wrong on this point and just squandered a really nice flight), so I packed up.  Standing down while watching 100 pilots thermal overhead was not an easy thing to do!

On the ride down we heard over the radio that a pilot had tossed his reserve over the back of the ridge on the way to the first turnpoint, landing OK.  Despite the flying looking quite nice once established over the back (and I'm sure many pilots will report that it was fine), I'm happy with my decision to DNF.  Being near the bottom of the rankings has its advantages...I'm under absolutely no pressure so don't have to fly just because everyone else is.

Unfortunately I can't comment on the task or goal conditions (but it appears from the live tracking that, once again, something like 70 pilots made goal), so you'll have to go to another blog to find that information out :)


  1. Nicole, I have flown in that area to Castejon before. I totally know where you are coming from. The later it gets in the day the more scary it is there. In fact we were launching very early when I worked there with a local group (like 10am!) Good for you to make that decision. Dont look back it was probably the right one for you. You are doing great and flying safe that is what matters. As I sit here in Victoria I am reading your blogs with enthusiasm. Wishing you all the best. Annelies Browne

  2. ...good call....