A far cry from yesterday. This morning it was overcast, which in itself is not such a bad thing for here...often in Valle a cloudy morning presages excellent afternoon conditions after it burns off. But in addition to being cloudy it was blowing down, hard, on launch (NE catabatic flow from the volcano), which I've never seen here before so wasn't sure if the usual generalization of cloudy morning = excellent afternoon would hold.
Nobody was keen to get their glider out and it was very relaxed on launch until the task committee announced 2 provisional tasks. With a few wind techs tossed off launch it was confirmed to be lightly soarable (reports of 2m/s) so one of the provisional tasks was confirmed and it was time to fly.
|Our reception upon landing.|
The start was 10km around La Pila but when the start time came, practically nobody went! It sure was strange to watch pilots still milling around at Espina trying to get high before attempting the glide to La Pila (it was completely overcast, and the previous definition in the clouds had transitioned to a more uniform grayness) even though it had been OK to go for some minutes now.
Eventually, in two or three gaggles, we decided it was time to head out over the flats. One gaggle tried the westerly route, while our gaggle tried the more easterly route. I chose this route due to the small hills along the way, which I was hoping would trigger some sort of lift. I think most other people were thinking the same thing as we all beelined for the hills but they just weren't producing. In fact nobody was turning in anything, and it was clear this was pretty much going to be a gliding contest.
With no obvious lift our gaggle pushed as far towards La Pila before turning around to land in a small village which seemed convenient to the main road. The field we chose initially seemed to be fine with what appeared to be various small humps of brown grass, but on final glide turned out to be nice football-sized rocks. Perfect. And of course all the village kids were streaming out of their houses and screaming "aqui, aqui" so we had the additional challenge of avoiding rocks + moving kids.
The retrieve van was already there so I'm thinking the organization must have realized there would be many pilots landing out towards La Pila and pre-sent the vans out there (otherwise it's a 1.5 hour drive around from launch), which was very thoughtful of them! As we drove away we could see a gaggle of maybe 12 pilots still in the air but not sure if they made it very far. I'm pretty sure nobody made goal and given that so many pilots landed out I don't think it'll be a very valid day.
Despite the task being too ambitious for the day's conditions, and once I was able to get above launch, I really enjoyed the flight. It was so mellow and mild which is so unusual for here that the gaggles (once we achieved terrain clearance) were really very nice to be in. So long as nobody tried to be greedy and everyone co-operated in the areas of generalized lift, everyone gained and very few people actually sunk out before the start.