And so it was that the Olive Prophecy came to pass with two days and two tasks.
Task one was won by Chigwon Won (try say that five times quickly). Chigwon Won won one here two years ago too (I can do this all day). The Korean charger is leading the comp after another great performance on day two.
Both tasks featured romps into the flat lands due to moderate wind forecast. The first task of seventy odd kilometers started to the south over the back before a westerly leg ending to the south. Several pilots were penalised for breaking the 10,000ft hard ceiling. 'Others' were penalised for stubborn stupidity and general uselessness as I launched ten minutes before the start after messing around with my gear and then running around on launch as the wind changed. In some bizarre turn of fortune I hooked into a pencil of a thermal that boosted me to the top right at the edge of the start cylinder with twenty seconds to go allowing an immaculate start while my fellow competitors, who had been mincing around majestically for close to an hour, wallowed below in my wonderous wake. That was about all I can claim on the first day as I ignored the gaggle and defiantly flew the tiger-line cursing myself every time the vultures helped me dig my way out of the holes I had dug in the excruciating solo cross country that had me slow to goal close to the bottom.
Ghigwon took it from the Brazilian ace Rafael Saladini who won here in 2017. Raffael put in a good performance at the world championships in Macedonia too and must surely be a favorite to win along with Chigwon.
It was another characteristic mass ensemble to goal with three quarters of the field arriving at goal within minutes of one-another after two hours.
The second task started to the west before a southeast leg followed by a southerly finish for and eighty odd kilometer task in stronger wind. The wind forecast saw the entire field fly a huge bow north of the course line to the west for fear of drifting to far downwind of the turn-point. It was too much to bear! Even after the punishment of the first day, I could not bring myself to deviate so dramatically off-course. An observer would have heard some serious rhyming curse-verses as 'we' held an intense internal debate about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Imagine Smeagol trying to decide if he should kill Frodo for the ring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLvIFRNbqOs
In the end I told myself 'I refuse to fly like that!' and went off on another solo mission along the course line knowing full well that my wife and friends would be tearing their hair out in frustration. You expect another sad tale of woe? You would be wrong: after dawdling along climbing in every little bit of lift and getting stuck for fifteen minutes, I still managed to get to goal within two minutes of the lead with 100% of the lead-out points. I wish I could say this was skill on my part, but, acknowledging that one flight a statistic doth not make, I experience the rising suspicion that something's not quite right with the top level of competition in paragliding. The French have perfected the gaggle-control approach introduced by the Swiss many years ago and they are being emulated by just about everyone else. The result is what appears to be a form of group-think led inadvertently by the best in the business. I have the utmost respect for the talent at the top and I believe the quality of the average world-cup pilot is the highest it has ever been. I also think a change is in order if we think the mass procession we witness daily is not really what XC racing is all about.
Having said all that, it was another magnificent day of flying and there is enormous joy to be found on a final glide of almost thirty kilometers with ALL your flying friends travelling at close to one hundred kilometers per hour over the ground. One hundred pilots separated by seven minutes after two hours!
Christian Deacu from Romania took it from the two Brazillian Rafaels and Jon Pio from SA with Emma Casanova leading the women into goal.
The bad news is that Goran, our charismatic world-cup president, crashed at launch breaking his leg in the sketchy launch conditions. We wish him a speedy recovery.