I arrived in St Andre late last night, after driving down after work. The competition had been running since Sunday - I was keen to catch up with old friends and fly for the next few days.
As part of my continuing fitness drive I decided to start the day by walking up to the launch. I dumped my glider onto one of the competition vehicles (I'd offered my services as 'wind dummy') before heading off up the hill. I took a few wrong turnings, without a map it seems suprisingly easy to go the worng way, but finally after about an hour I popped out at take off, just in time to see the task set for the day.
I sorted my stuff out and launched before window open, reporting back the conditions. I took the first turnpoint before the start had opened - I'd fly the course but try to get ahead a little as the leaders would surely catch me up quickly. Looking back at the mighty bee-like swarm of gliders circling together as one waiting for the start to open I smiled happy that I could fly out on my own in clear air, happy not actually competing for the first time in the last 4 years. I crossed the start gaggle as they were gliding into the first turnpoint - the insanity of what I was doing hit me only when it was too late - I was going one way and about 130 gliders were coming in the opposite direction at the same height... Arrrgghhhh! Still, it all passed quite sedately and my plan of staying in front was soon foiled by getting stuck. After 10 mins the gaggle was back and with the help of about 100 other gliders we quickly found the strong climb whcih had been elusive to me on my own!.
Now I was in the thick of the lead gaggle and in total contrast to what had been going through my head 20mins earlier, I slipped effortlessly back in to racing mode. Climbs weakening, quick, push the bar - who has the best line? I was loving being back in the thick of the gaggle and racing again. Still I soon realised that my 3 year old serial wing was absolutely no match for the speed of the Ozone R10's. Wow, they are fast.
So, I got left behind, but reminding myself I was not actually ion this race I tried some different routes, and found out why we never go that way! I ended up extremely low (lining up to land if the truth be told) before scrapping out again with my mate Martin. I rolled in to goal, slow and happy not to have this one scored!