Saturday 5th August: Task 8 - Three pilots in goal

The final task is finished with three pilots in goal - in fact the same three pilots who will stand on the podium to collect their medals tomorrow.  First into goal today was Jacques Bott (FRA) who will take the silver medal tomorrow.  Second into goal was Franz Pacheiner (AUT), who will be presented with bronze tomorrow.  And third into goal, taking it easy, is 2017 FAI World Hang Gliding Class 2 Champion, once again, Manfred Ruhmer (AUT).  The fourth contender, Steve Cox (SUI) landed out today.

The weather conditions were tricky in places, starting with the launch.  Thermal gusts and dust devils on the airfield, with the wind veering between north and west made take off very difficult.  In fact the task for the Class 5 pilots was cancelled on the ground.  In Class 2, half the field launched in increasingly turbulent conditions.  Two pilots decided not to start. The remaining two pilots launched as conditions allowed.  Once airborne, the thermals were strong and most were at a good height when the race started.  Unfortunately, Guenther Obweger (SUI) suffered an instrument failure and landed soon after.

In the early part of the task, Steve and Manfred were together and a few kilometers ahead of Jacques and Franz.  Then they came to the crux of the task: a windy section close to Ancel where the north wind was strong through the venturi formed by the valleys north of Gap and through the col Bayard.  Manfred said: "That was hard core hang gliding!  It was very interesting flying in the leeside against a 50kph wind.  We had full-on turbulence and lots of lift."  However, Manfred said he felt secure strapped into his Class 2 hang glider!  Steve, however, felt differently.  "I came in low, I was in the lee, it was bumpy and there was a strong wind.  I managed to get just above the top of the mountains, but it was still very bumpy.  I chose to fly out from the hill, and then rather than go back in there in my 20 year old Swift, I decided it was Level 3 for me, so I went to land."  Jacques knew he needed height at this point: "Or I would be in the lee in a 50kph wind!"  He said that last year he lost time on a task on the same route by taking a more round-about but safer course, but this year, in full competition mode, he chose to fly direct.  "And today was not the day to do that!"  He was grateful that on his more modern Swift Light he had rudder control in the turbulence.  Franz, meanwhile, only found it rough at the launch and the start.  "I was lower than everyone at the start, so I started late.  But I managed to catch up, and was surprised to come in second!  My navigation skills have improved too," he added. 

Provisional results are already published, thanks to the super fast scoring provided by the trackers.  There will be a barbecue and rock band tonight and closing ceremony and prize-giving tomorrow morning at 10am.