The Devil in the Dust
The forecast would have had most free-fliers sleeping late and digging out kiting gear. Not the paragliding world champs! We enthusiastically headed up the mountain after a sublime rest day to bask in the sun while the wind was howling over the back and producing dust devils commensurate with an event of this magnitude. We watched in awe as the first devil tried to steal a boomerang and harness lifting it a dozen swirling meters before slamming it back onto launch while fighting two desperate pilots for ownership of a second and third glider and almost succeeding. A second dusty came steaming through launch like a freight train a little later and this time it grabbed two harnesses with gliders in pack bags stripping them clean of any loose pieces before rapidly moving them down the hill with frantic owners in hot pursuit tackling their kit and holding on for dear life. The dervish raged for a chaotic minute or two before retreating with the spoils of its raid taking two garments all the way to into the clouds above launch in minutes.... and then we flew the task.
Happy Place - Waiting around listening to blues and thinking of home and cloud streets
Fear no Evil
So we bombed off into the valley-of-death-glide for a seventy km challenge in the valley to keep us off the lee of the mountain. The start was one of those days where one hundred and fifty pilots spent a lot of effort ridging up the side of rapidly developing cumulus while trying to stay out of the clouds at the start followed by a desperate glide to the first turn point across the Sopot Valley to the south followed by a blanket search of just one thermal in the valley without sun. One thing is sure at events such as these so soon after the start: the fact that if there is a thermal anywhere within one hundred square kilometres of a valley in shadow, it WILL be found and ridden back to base. Having said that, this knowledge is not very comforting when you have been on glide for 15km and that elusive thermal is shy and not showing her skirts. We eventually found a tiny patch of sad looking sun and almost all got up in the end before flying around the course in around two hours twenty. The first fifty pilots were within one hundred points of one-another with a total of one hundred and twenty five pilots in goal which is amazing considering the diabolical start! A good day for team with most in goal pushing us into eight position overall. Russel is tenth overall and Andre 17th some fifty points back with Chris top fifty.