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2009 XC-Open Araxa

Competition Results  
pdfOverall 1 Richard Pethigal (BR) Swing Stratus WRC
  2 Sebastien Bochet (FR) UP Edge
  3 Washington Peruchi (BR) Mac Para Magus 6
pdfWomen Natalia Bonilla (US) Axis Venus 2
pdfSerial Class Gustavo de Oliveira (BR) Niviuk Peak
pdfSport Class Wendell Gomes Pereira (BR) Advance Sigma 7
pdfFun Class Xavier Girin (FR) Gradient Golden 2

Saturday 17-Okt-2009    
The last day in Araxá dawned rather grey and cloudy but quickly improved just like the first. Could we get one more task in the bag? Everyone was keen and at launch there was a good breeze blowing and an improving sky with good lift apparent. Quite a few pilots took the chance to have a play around launch while the top runners were kept busy being interviewed by the local and national TV. The organization called the same task as the last few days.
As the window opened it was series organizer Hans Bausenwein who showed everyone the way, finding a thermal and climbing to base. It was the encouragement everyone needed and soon most of the field were in the air, although conditions at launch made it tricky for some. Base wasn´t that high and the climbs were drifting fairly quickly over the back. This meant that quite a few pilots had to make the decision to head back to the ridge as soon as they started to loose lift or risk landing on the way back. The alternative was to be very patient with the climbs as they drifted making the most of the lift to get you to base. As the lead gaggle made the first ridge behind, it became obvious that the large rain shower to the south was moving onto the course line and Dio the meet director made the decision to cancel the day.
The end of competition party was held in the local night time hot spot, the Tantra Bar. Richard  Pethigal (BR, Swing Stratus WRC) took first place overall ahead of Sebastian Bochet (FR, UP Edge) and Washington Peruchi (BR, MacPara Magus 6). Serial Class winner was Gustavo de Oliveira (BR, Niviuk Peak), Sports Class winner was Wendell Gomes Periera (BR, Advance Sigma 7) and the fun class win was taken by Xavier Girin (FR, Gradient Golden 2) with top woman Natalia Bonilla (US, Axis Venus 2) who came 15th overall. After the prize giving the bar gave the pilots a buffet and the caipirinhas flowed long into the night with some drifting back to the Virgilius Hotel as it was becoming daylight...

A big thanks to organizer José Wilson and the Araxá Club and SOL paragliders for all their great support, Durval Henke for the scoring, Dioclecio the meet director and of course Hans and Andreas for the whole XC-Open series. We must also all thank the Hotel Virgilius and the Tantra Bar for making us all so welcome.

The XC-Open series moves to Manilla, Australia for the next leg, you can still register at www.xcopen.org

Marcus King signing out from Brazil
Friday 16-Okt-2009    
Day 7
Another beautiful morning but a re-run of the previous day, except the organization quickly took the decision to cancel the task so pilots could get off free flying before it blew out. Most of the pilots were quickly in the air and enjoying the good conditions. Cloud base wasn’t that high making any decent XCs difficult, but some flew along the ridge to the East of take-off while others pushed out into the flat lands in front. Those who managed to get back to launch were able to enjoy a cold beer and a buffet lunch at the restaurant. How civilized is this country. Retrieve buses gathered in those who had landed elsewhere and despite the lack of task there were a lot of smiling faces and more tales being swapped.
Thursday 15-Okt-2009    
Day 6
Everyone was rearing to go and a blue sky meant there was a lot of excitement. Park and play Fred and Xavier, used to strong winds in New Caledonia, were quickly in the air to check out conditions. "Best of ze week" was Xavier´s opinion when he touched down. The organization set the same task as Tuesday with two turnpoints taking the pilots past the Serra de Canastra National Park and then open distance. Unfortunately as the pilots were sorting their kits a CB went off directly on the route and the meet director took the decision to cancel the day.
As the wind quickly picked up only two local pilots were able to take to the air, climbing out backwards showing that it wasn´t for the faint hearted. With no flying, mini buses were organized to take the pilots to the waterfalls, the source of the rio de San Francisco, the second biggest river in Brazil. Of course being paraglider pilots we only got to see them in bad weather but some local pinga helped.
Wednesday 14-Okt-2009    
Day 5
When the pilots woke up it was raining. Many of them were relieved to get a rest day especially those who had done back to back competitions with the Araxá Open the week before. Some pilots had been up on the mountain far earlier with New Caledonian pilot Xavier Girin, US rising star Natalia Bonilla and some of the German pilots up at the crack of dawn to do a piece for Brazilian national TV. Amazingly the camera crew managed to find a small slot of flyable conditions on this otherwise non-flyable day.
With no flying on the cards for the majority a churrasco with feijoada, accompanied by beer and caipirinha drinks at a local bar was offered by the organizers. Great for birthday boy Swedish pilot and Cross Country photographer Fredrik Gustafsson, he may have missed out on beating his personal best on his birthday but was suitably plied with drinks and even got a birthday cake.
Tuesday 13-Okt-2009    
Task 4
The morning showed a perfectly blue sky with very little wind. By the time all the pilots were gathered on launch clouds were forming nicely. There was a gentle breeze and the birds were doing their best to entice us into the air. The same task as the previous day was called taking us towards and alongside the national park. There was lot of excitement at the chance that we may get to fly past the very scenic Sierra de Canastra.
With a warning that the winds were forecasted to pick up the pilots quickly took to the air. Finding lift was easy and the first gaggles quickly drifted over the back on track. Up high there was a good tailwind giving glides on trim of over 60 km/h. The first transition proved tricky for some having to grovel their way out from low down. US pilots Natalia Bonilla and Kevin McGinley showed the way out finding a great climb. For others who had maximized their height in the first thermal it was easy to come in above the climbing gliders and get back to base.
By now the clouds were getting pretty black but didn't seem to be sucking hard. A large group of gliders were able to cruise along at base. Things were looking ominous at the end of the street with an obviously lower and more active cloud but we were all forced to head more south anyway to get the first turnpoint.
Away from the street things got tougher with many pilots finding themselves down low working scratchy lift in the shade, never a good place to be. Others who found a climb ahead were reporting very black clouds and rough conditions. Then the first spots of rain started to fall and meet director Dioclecio took the decision to stop the task at 13:40. Most pilots were at 40-45 km with a few faster pilots reportedly further ahead.
Back on the ground the retrieve vans swept up the pilots who were scattered along the main dirt road heading to Roques de Minas, taking them back to Araxá for a well earned caipirinha and tale swapping.

Task winner was Pablo Milholo ahead of Gustavo De Oliveira and ex-world record man Marcelo Prieto. In the overall standings Richard Pethigal is leading the pack with Sebastian Bochet and Washington Peruchi hot on his tail.

day 12-Okt-2009    

A game of two halves
A beautiful blue sky and a lot of excited pilots are met by strong winds on launch. After the requisite hanging around a task is called with two waypoints to take the pilots around the national park and to make retrieve easy.

The first half: as the winds appear to ease the window is opened and the first pilots take to the sky working the lift in front of the hill. The comp gliders make it look easy enticing the 2-3 wings into the air. Things aren't so easy for them, finding themselves parked into wind. The first gaggle drifts over the back en route as there is not much chance of coming back. On launch some pilots have difficulties getting off. It's enough for the organizers who decide to close the window. Lesson learned if it’s flyable get up and get away.

Second half: Just as the window is closing Natalia Bonilla winner of  last week's Araxà Open women's title throws her reserve following a large collapse and cravatte.  Thankfully she arrives back on terra firma unhurt and is quickly retrieved by a quad bike from launch. Out front even the gliders landing in the bomb out field are going backwards. It became clear the window wouldn't be reopened. Those left on top head for lunch or to the bus back to town. Lesson remembered: it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.

We are waiting to see how far the pilots flew with the wind dead on course. Maybe some will have gone far.

Sunday 11-Okt-2009    

Second competition day
The day started grey and windy, but by time the vans and coaches were leaving for the hill the sky was starting to organize itself. Up at launch it was on the windy side but definitely flyable with a classic looking sky again. Task 2 was set with a single turnpoint at 72 km at the bridge of Rifaina, which is on the border to Sao Paulo State and after open distance.
As soon as the window opened pilots took to the sky and the first gaggle was fast at base. Those who got away early made good progress towards the turnpoint. Back at the hill the odd sink cycle littered the bomb out with gliders. The pilots at the back of the field had to contend with a headwind which made the going slow. Lesson 2 learned: go early!
Unofficial news is that Richard Pethigal (BR) and Washington Peruchi (BR) won the day with 103 km with several other pilots just short of 100.

Saturday 10-Okt-2009    

First competition day
Pilots woke up to a windy looking sky with wave clouds evident and the chances of flying seemingly bleak. During the extended safety and comp briefing conditions started to improve and by the time we were all assembled on launch we had a classic looking xc sky. With the forecasted wind it was likely pilots would be heading towards the only airspace around. Therefore a task was set with two fixed turnpoints with 5km radius and after open distance to avoid the airspace.
Conditions were good at launch and most pilots soon climbed to base. In between the climbs though the sink was strong and some unlucky pilots found themselves back on the ground just as quickly. Out on course the drift was in the opposite direction than expected making it hard going. Climbs were peaking out at 4 to 5 ms with a base at around 2700m. Flying between the clouds was dreamlike with the rolling green hills stretching off into the distance below.
Back on the ground the adventure started for many. The day had a standard retrieve system rather than retrieve in teams. For some it was easy with Frenchman Philippe Rigal being picked up by two local girls and taken for lunch before being dropped back at the hotel while others were still on the road after dark. Lesson learned: stay close to the main roads.

Task winner was Gustavo de Oliveira with 76 km ahead of  Pablo Milholo and Bruno Neumann. Top non Brazilian was Frenchman Sebastien Bochet in 5th place.    

Friday 09-Okt-2009    

Registration day

Registration from 18:00 to 21:00 at Virgillius Hotel. 



A short description of the flying area Araxá

The XC-Open World Series event in Araxá is the first event for 2010 XC-Open World Series. It takes place from Oct. 10-17 2009. In sync with the FAI World Online Contest, we are running the XC-Open World Series events from October to October from 2009 on. So Araxá will be the start of the 2010 Series and Piedrahita will be the final competition.

The Clube Araxaense de Voo Livre and it's president José Wilson are waiting for all XC-Open pilots to present them their nice town and the flying site. The take off Horizonte Perdido is located about 20 km outside of the city of Araxá. Araxá a city of about 80.000 inhabitants is famous for it's hot springs and the Grand Hotel. 

The prevailing wind direction on most days in October is North-East. The Take Off Horizonte Perdido is a grassy slope on top of a long ridge next to a restaurant facing the northeasterly winds.

The longest flight has been made by Marcelo Prieto (Cecéu) who landed after 253,5 km near the city of Bebedouro in Sao Paulo state.

The take off area in Araxá is currently (2009-04-02) rebuilt and enlarged. 20 pilots will be able to take off at the same time from the grassy slopes.

Visit Araxá on Google maps here .

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