Ager Women’s Open 2011: Day 5

To task or not to task… Judith Mole reports from Ager

Class of 2011: Las Chicas at the Ager Women's Paragliding Open 2011 (Click for a bigger version). Photo: Judith Mole

Class of 2011: Las Chicas at the Ager Women's Paragliding Open 2011 (Click for a bigger version). Photo: Judith Mole

The forecast didn’t bode too well. With a weather warning of extreme instability, 30% chance of between 20mm – 30mm of rain in 30 minutes and other forecasts also predicting storms, I wasn’t very optimistic. However, we’ve had forecasts of storms for weeks and not seen a drop of rain, so you have to take it all with a pinch of salt. Ager has a microclimate, there seem to be storms all around us, but the valley seems very dry.

Judith Mole reporting… Philippe Broers interviews our woman in Ager

There was high cloud when we woke up, and little sign of cu development when it was time to get on the busses, so we went up and tried to decide what to do. At first our instinct was to can the day and allow those who wanted to free-fly, but then the high cloud started clearing, the sun came out, and we had to think again.

Jenny, our wind dummy, did a sterling job thermalling along the lower ridge, and showed us that a task might be possible. So off we went to discuss a provisional valley task, that ended up longer than the previous day.

Once all the pilots were briefed, the task and safety committee had the job of standing on launch monitoring conditions and trying to decided if we should go ahead. What we could see in the sky didn’t tally with the forecast and the local school reported that the nearest storm was in Valencia, some 400km away. As Nicky told us, you have to have some faith in the forecast, or you might as well give up setting tasks at all.

What concerned us more was the easterly wind that was becoming apparent. A free flyer did a spectacular display of unintended acro and this put most of the pilots on the hill off launching. In the end, we thought the combination of bad forecast, east wind, the possibility of stopping the task soon after launch and the fact that we have had four good tasks, meant that we quit while ahead and abandoned the day.

The two people who did fly down sunk so quickly that they didn’t even make it across the lower ridge and had to land in the emergency field between the ridges. Once back in Ager, the east wind started blowing but it was hot and sunny all day. Still, a very good decision not to task.

Alternative programme was either chilling out by the pool or going on the Mont Rebei gorge walk, which half the competitors did. It’s a stunning walkway chiselled into a cliff over a river. In the night the storms finally did materialise. The claps of thunder actually shook our bungalow. Saturday’s weather looks similar, so we may not get another task.

UPDATE: WATCH the Ager Women’s Paragliding Open prize-giving as it happened. Judith Mole wins Bronze in the EN A/B category!

Watch live video from Womens PG Open Prizegiving on

Ager Women’s Open 2011

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