Every year, easter is the time to drive to Spain for 3 to 4 days in order to participate to the F3F open of La Muela. This year the major novelty was that the contest was on 3 days instead of 2 days the previous year. What a good idea !
On the weather side, with the early date (end of march) combined with a cold and snowy winter, we were a bit worried. Center od spain can be very cold in winter (continental weather) with lots of rain.
Competition started on Thurday around midday, to allow some of the competitors to drive in the morning. It was a good opportunity to test the slope in slowly growing conditions. After a briefing at 1:30, we started the competition at 2pm on the south slope. 30 pilots allows to have quick rotation, so mmore rounds. We managed 5 rounds in the afternoon before the sunset. Round 1 was suspended during 20 minutes because of a rain shower. Wind was relatively stable between 7m/s to 12 m/s. At the end of the Day, Inaki was leading the competition followed by Matthieu and myself.
Friday forecasts were bad, but we still could hope dry weather window in the afternoon, which didn't happen unfortunately. We spent the day at the bar La Muela, with games, wifi, cafe, beers and good sandwitches. Around 3:30pm the organiser decided to declare the day OFF, as no improvement was expected. Low clouds and fog was straying on the slope, with some frequent showers.
Saturday was planned to be shiny and windy. When we arrived on the slope around 9 am, the wind was blowing from west, very strong, that is to say around 22 to 23 m/s average with spikes over 25 m/s. Competiton resumed at 10 am. from 10am to 5pm we did 10 rounds. At the beginning the wind was strong and stable, but as soon as the sun arived on the slope face, the wind decreased constantly and even dropped time to time around 5m, with some crosswind from the left. It made the flight very challenging, forcing competitors to change all the time the ballast to adapt to conditions of the instant. Times were oscillating between the very very fast to the very very slow (for exemple 33s to 57s for me...). My team mate Philippe Lanes beated the slope record with a superb 28.94 flying his Freestyler 4.3 (FS4 wings on a FS3 fuselage). Top position were swapping round after round between Matthieu, Inaki and I, until Inaki get a zero + penalty flight after doing a cut and stalling during the recovery.
On the organisation side, everything was smooth and perfectly ran. The round result and updated general ranking was displayed few minutes after the end of the round. The timing system worked perfectly, with automatic reporting into the calculation computer. For the lunch, the organiser proposed typical spanish sandwishes (Lomo, chorizo, Pancetta) prepared on order at the bas La Muela on the road down from the slope.
Price giving happened around 6 pm, to declare the podium, and the fastest time of the slope, before everybody returns home (14 hours drive for us). Matthieu wins the competition. I follow very closely with 50 pts less over 14000 ! Philippe finishes 3rd, followed by Inaki, Gerardo, Frederic, and Alvaro. On the plane side, lots of Freestyler 4, 4.3 or 3, few Pikes Precision, Vampires, Alliajs HM. Personnaly, I'm pretty satisfied with my Pike Precision which demonstrated to be at the level of the FS4. Then this is the pilot who is sometimes under (with 2 cuts for exemple).
I want to say an HUGE "thank you !" to the organisers, and especially the bases judges who stayed during all week-end to beep us. La Muela is definitively a great competition: 15 rounds in 1.5 days (if we remove friday) is a great achievement which demonstrate the efficiency of Miguel and his great team. The slope showed that it can be very fast, the scenery remains very beautiful, and the people very friendly. Everything we are looking for to make a competition a sucess and return with plenty of souvenirs.
See you there in 2014.
Below is my Picasa photo album. More to come with a video. Stay tuned !