Ager Women’s Open 2011: Day 3

Day three: ‘My best task ever… and all for nothing as the task is stopped.’ Judith Mole reports

In the air but grey skies at the Ager Women's Open. Photos: Judith Mole

In the air but grey skies at the Ager Women's Open. Photos: Judith Mole

Today we assumed would be a write-off, with an occluded front coming through and possible thunderstorms later. However, having done a final check Nicky told us all not to get too drunk, as there may be a window of opportunity.

On waking up there was already a lot of cirrus and wave was apparent over the high Pyrenees. We went up the hill regardless and the task committee set a zig zag round the valley task. This would allow Nicky, the meet head, to keep us in sight and to be able to monitor the conditions on the whole course too.

Taking it easy on launch in Ager...

Taking it easy on launch in Ager...

Whilst getting ready I was starting to have my doubts whether it would really work. We started unpacking our gliders in the sunshine, a blue hole having helpfully appeared over us, but by the time briefing came, the cloud had obscured the sun.

The wind dummies did stay up though and even thermalled to a reasonable height. Nicky decided to go for it, but with deteriorating conditions forecast, the task committee decided to change the task from race to elapsed time, which means every competitor chooses their own start time and whoever gets round the course fastest wins.

Zen master on take-off in Ager

Zen master on take-off in Ager

My view was that we needed to get to the start fast. With thicker cloud and possible rain forecast for later in the afternoon, it seemed to me that we needed to get going quickly.

The task was along the ridge to the east end, back to Corca in the valley at the west end, thento the village of Atmella at the east end of the valley, then highest point of the ridge at Sant Alis, Agullo in the valley and landing at Camping Ager.

M4 above launch at the Ager Women's Open 2011

M4 above launch at the Ager Women's Open 2011

Getting to the valley turnpoints was going to be the tricky bit. You could see from the wind dummies that the ridge was working, but going out and getting back would require height and patience to get it.

I launched as one of the first and headed straight to the start with Laurie, Sabine and Christelle. The ridge was soarable all along, so I didn’t bother thermalling, I just used any lift to top up. Laurie was cruising ahead as usual, so she was mapping the whole thing for us.

In the air at Ager

In the air at Ager

The rest of us got to TP1, turned back and used the top ridge to get to the other side. By the time we got there, Yayoi Ito, Daniela Hofer and Catherine Bartoldi had caught up with us.

I was going to head out on a mad glide to the turn point, but stopped myself when I saw cumulus forming under the cirrus. I decided to wait on the ridge until it came closer. This allowed others to catch up, but it meant I had safe passage to the turn point, and crucially, allowed me to come back as well.

We got a nice thermal just before the turn point. Some took the valley route, but I headed straight back to the high ridge and cruised along it, being taken over by Sabine and Catherine.

The clouds were getting bigger at this point and people were voicing some concerns. After getting back to the east end of the ridge, and tagging the next turnpoint, Catherine and I (who are both on the safety committee), both felt rain and the task was subsequently stopped. Laurie had just got into goal. The only one to make it.

Everyone was very disciplined about getting down fast. Unfortunately, Monica Engen from Norway hit a tree, but thankfully the only injury is whiplash.

Back at HQ in Ager

Back at HQ in Ager

So the result of all our efforts today? Nothing. Because it was elapsed time, it is unsporting to give the early launchers an advantage, so the only way to score it would be to take the time of the last person to leave the start and apply that to everyone and see how far they got round the course in that time. Because the last pilot left the start so late, we would all score minimum distance, so the task will not be scored.

It’s a real personal shame for me. It was the best task result I have ever potentially had, coming between 5th and 7th. Not bad on a DHV1/2. The disappointment soon wore off, and it’s a big boost after my dismal performance yesterday.

Everyone seems to be enjoying the comp and the camaraderie is as good as last year. The evening programme was a belly dancing lesson and was a hoot. Great to see Italians shimmying with Japanese, Belgians shaking their funky stuff with Mexicans, etc. Everyone’s certainly gelling very well.

Ager Women’s Open 2011

See all Judith Mole’s posts from Ager


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