British pilot and blogger Judith Mole explains, ‘How to do everything wrong and still get to goal’
Judith Mole heads off on glide at the Ager Women's Paragliding Open 2011. Photos: Judith Mole
Well, registration went well. We’re 32 women from a multitude of countries. Laurie Genovese has decided not to attend the Pre-Euros and fly in what may be the last ever Open Class competition. She missed out on the top spot when she got food poisoning on the last task in 2010 and is hoping to make up for it this year.
Practice day had two flying opportunities, both in the middle of the day and in the evening, when Nicky Moss and I arrived last on take-off and expected a top to bottom. What everyone in the air encountered was classic Áger restitution… it got liftier as the evening progressed. I got down just before night fall, but some people landed in the dark, including our esteemed meet director, who had to be retrieved at 10.30pm.
All smiles on launch on Day 1
With a forecast of possible storms later, today’s task was a four turnpoint 47km zig zag round the valley and then a dash over the back. Basically (if you know Áger), from the main Col de Ares launch to a start in the valley over the village of Agullo, then to the end of the ridge to the east, then turnpoint over Áger Camping, back to the highest point of the ridge at Sant Alis, then over the back to the Castell del Mur and goal at Vilamijana.
Task committee is made up of Nicky Moss, Nicole McLearn (Canada), Sabah Boudaoua (Morocco/Spain) and Domenica Bender Tcacenco (Brazil).
Conditions were mixed and I nearly went down just after the start. We were thermalling left before the start and as soon as one o’clock arrived I was back in my comfort zone. Roll on tomorrow when we turn the proper way.
Sorting gear on launch, Day 1
Somehow I managed to do everything wrong today. Following others (when I fly better when making my own decision), going to the worst possible places on the ridge to find thermals and generally farting about getting further and further behind.
Thankfully I like a good scratch, so I got back up from the lower ridge… you wouldn’t have thought I was able to thermal from my display today. Laurie had lapped me by TP1 and my heart was sinking. What saved my flight was that I can soar. A ridge is a ridge, regardless of how big it is and I managed to squeeze past the serve and volley brigade (otherwise known as the ‘thermal and glide guys’).
Why bother turning, when you can just fly straight and get there faster? I got stuck again on the higher ridge after the Sant Alis turnpoint and couldn’t find a strong enough thermal to take me safely over the ridge.
After giving myself a good talking to I finally blundered into a corker when I was distracted by a potential accident… no skill, just pure luck. From base, it was a dog leg glide into goal, where by some miracle I arrived 10th. Obviously I wasn’t the only one having an interesting day. So I have exactly the same result this year as I had on day one of last year. Tenth overall and highest placed DHV1/2. It’s all uphill from here!
Convincing winner was Laurie Genovese (France), who blitzed round the course. Provisionally second is Daniela Hofer (Switzerland) and third Patty Gracia de Letona (Mexico).
With 14 in goal there were many happy faces at HQ. Tomorrow looks good for another early task and the task committee did well choosing a good first run to get us all going and accustomed to the conditions.
And at present we have no live tracking… some other comp stole our toys. Still, it’s not all bad… we stole their staff in return. More tomorrow…