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25-04-2004 > 2 Windtech's in top 5 of Snowdon Open 2004.
With some tricky conditions around Arenig Fach launch, followed by fast race to goal, at the Snowdon Paragliding Open 2004 (also the first round of the 2004 British Paragliding Cup series), 2 Windtech's came in the top 5 overall - more than any other manufacturer!

Snowdon Paragliding Open 2004 Results Overall:

> 2nd Aiden Toase, Windtech Quarx
> 4th Carlo Borsattino, Windtech Syncro

Snowdon Paragliding Open report, by Carlo Borsattino:
The Snowdon Paragliding Open 2004 turned out to be a mixed bag of tricks as far as the flying and conditions were concerned. All in all it was a great weekend, warm and sunny, with many hot-and-bothered sunburnt pilots eagerly panting their way up Arenig Fach, in anticpation of what looked like fantastic conditions on both days. As it happened, although the general conditions around were clearly excellent, it wasn't quite as easy as it could have been from a 'getting away from the hill and going XC' point of view. Here's how the weekend's flying unfolded from my point of view.

On the Saturday it began a wee bit on the windy side (probably just compression below the morning inversion, which had not yet broken), and so the learned and wizened BPCup task committee decided to wait for the breeze to abate a little, which it did graciously, after not too long. As this was the first BPCup round, and the first major UK paragliding competiton, of the year this worked out quite nicely really, as it gave time for old friends to catch up on things and new acquaintances to be made.

Conditions were looking pretty fantastic, with beautiful cumulus clouds all around (more so generally to the east and south), and so excitement and anticipation was running high. As it was the first round of the year, with many a rusty pilot needing to blow out the XC cobwebs from their winter-chilled lines, the task committee decided to set what seemed a relatively conservative task, considering how good the conditions were looking, and so we all got ready. Then, of course, the wind all but died - typical!

It was looking tricky to stay up, never mind get up and away, so I waited and watched conditions develop, whilst pilots struggled to find a decent climb-out in front of launch. This is how I read the conditions: On a more 'macro' scale, there seemed multiple sea-breeze fronts coming from three different directions - from the north and west facing coastlines nearby, and 'swishing' up the valleys - mixed up with typical mountain valley winds and thermal cycles, and an apparent general change of air-mass as the high pressure crept steadily, but surely, over us. On a more 'micro' scale, there appeared to be the nebulous head a sea breeze front snaking it's way up the valley just to the south of us, looking like it was going to be reaching us quite soon.

After carefully observing the conditions developing for some time, I felt the right moment had come and took off, hoping to connect with the approaching sea breeze font. As it turned out, I timed my launch pretty much perfectly and flew straight into a nice thermal off the southern end of Arenig Fach, out over the valley, and climbed straight out with only a minor aerial bun-fight. This turned out to be 'the' climb of the day away from the hill and only around eight of us managed to get in it. I think this thermal cycle was in fact triggered by the arrival of the sea breeze, which explains why it was quite disorganised (and a little bouncy in places) and there were no decent climbs after it had passed through. Chief wind dummy, Adrian Thomas meanwhile had found another part of what I guess was the same cycle further down the hill, and he climbed out as well on his own.

In the gaggle I was in, Windtech team pilots Andy Plimmer and Aiden Toase, both flying Quarx's, nearly got a little TOO friendly at one point (I think trying to avoid another pilot, who for some reason was repeatedly cutting everyone else up in our gaggle), and seemed to both be momentarily overwhelmed with the desire to give each other an aerial bear-hug. Fortunately, at the last moment, they seemed to overcome this desire to show their affections for each other and consolidated themsleves instead with Aiden having a quick 'fun-run' across the top of Andy's glider - most entertaining!

Our gaggle continued working the climb we'd been given hard, glad to be away from the melee down below, squeezing out of it every last once of lift and topping out at around 5000ft ASL. Except for me, that is! It became apparent that, after we'd been going round and around for several minutes in 0.001m/s, everyone was waiting for everyone else to make the next move, and it was time to push on to the next clouds that were well within reach and looking good. I set off on glide and, sure enough, everyone else followed soon after.

As I arrived under the next cloud I found a few weak bits of lift, but decided that it was looking better ahead and so I pushed on again. The pilots who arrived behind me phaffed about in the weak scrappy stuff and waited to see if I would find something ahead for them to scavenge. I arrived at the next cloud and found a reasonable climb and started working it as Adrian Thomas glided in to join me from his thermal, and the rest of the group followed behind arriving somewhat below us.

Conditions ahead were not looking quite so clear cut this time, with a fairly long glide to the next somewhat scrappy looking clouds en-route to goal, so we tried to eek out as much height as we could before we set of on the next glide. We only needed one more climb to be able to make it easily to goal. I got to base with Adrian, somewhat ahead of the rest of the group and decided that it was a better idea to head for a much better looking cloud which was around 30 degrees east off track.

Just after I started to go on glide, I noticed Adrian heading off on a straight glide towards goal. Now I had a dilema - do I glide on my own, with less chance of finding a thermal, towards the better looking cloud 30 degrees off-course, or do I stay with Adrian and chance it that we will find the last climb needed to make it into goal? Unfortunately for me I made the wrong choice and stayed with Adrian (doh!), we never quite got the climb and we both landed a few km's short of goal. Most pilots landed behind us also, but the two that had been left way behind had the benefit of watching us all getting low, and eventually landing short. They bimbled along slowly, eventually coming over our heads about half an hour later, in orbit and glided off into glorious, victorious goal. Well done, you swines! ;^)

Sunday was another glorious day, with fantastic looking skies, but we got buggered by the sea breeze and so no task was run, unfortunately. That's what happens when you're at the wrong hill, I guess.



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