Day 8 @ Sisteron. Last Day of a Very Successful SGP! AND … the Winner is DIDIER!

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ready for day 8. Picture courtesy SGP organizers SISTERON in the Southern Alps

5:30 PM. What a fantastic week it was. Heroic stuff is what Brian called it. So do I. Even today you thought, "It's in the pocket," but then they were in "the weeds" and had to dig themselves out. Being first at a TP did not mean anything. TP 2 where you got a bonus point when you were there high and first was rounded first by Rene. At 5 the battle between Didier and Sebastian was REALLY on. Unbelievable how they found each other again in the end. Sebastian 100 m below him got out of the valley while Didier was using the ridges and remained very patient while trying to maintain his height. Cirrus thickened, temperatures got lower, so earlier than expected the lift diminished. A possible mistake keeps Bruce from spot 3. Uli passes and who is on spot 4 depends; it might be my friend Bruce or my friend Giorgio. Congratulations to ALL pilots.

Read the long story with all ups and downs of this last day. Enjoy!

11 AM. With the longest task of the 8 days, 314 km, there was still lotsof laughter in the briefing room this morning, so no stress for this last day at Sisteron.

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Big laughter from Uli but big smiles from others. Courtesy Aussie tram.

Five Pilots still in the race to be the WORLD CHAMPION. Didier leads with one point on Sebastian (36 vs. 33)  and Bruce , Uli and Giorgio follow with 30, 29 and 28! WHO IS IT GOING TO BE?? One possible winner is Bruce, who luckily could smile this morning too. Between so many great, warm and humorous mates he must feel good again. After such an ordeal that's the best medicine.

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Bruce ... Ready to go for it. Courtesy Aussie team

Day 8 has a task with 4 TPs and they finish via check point North. First launches at 1.05 PM. A different sky in the morning as you can see, less wind and warmer as well.

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Courtesy Aussie team

While the pilots are racing in Sisteron and I wait till the launches are over and the last regatta start will be announced, other pilots race the ALPS like formula 1 gliders. Distance flying, this time, another discipline in our great sport. Great distances and good speed and pilots from Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, France and Finland flew over 1000 km tasks. Also from Serres, one of the TP's from this Grand Prix. (Klaus in the Stemme) 9 x1000 Yesterday and 16 on Wednesday. Even 1.633 km with 139 km speed from Calcinate by Alberto Sirone in the Quintus M. He declared a 1400 km task, flew his 1250 badge and an Italian and continental record.

Even 1.012 km in an ASW 24 was possible from Aosta. WOW, what days and for sure lots of happy chappies. More in my Sunday blog. Pilots were busy as well, walking and ... racing but now on the ground!

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If that's not enjoying yourself?Courtesy Aussie team.

2 PM. Last launched was  57 with Mike at 1.50. Weather for today is warm, on the ground 23 dgr, a light SW wind turning later more to a S. wind and a valley breeze, when the mountains heat up. Pilots lined up 2 min. before opening, after having been at 2200 m. They dive through it at 1800 m with a speed of 170 km/h max. The regatta start for the last time during this SGP, the final day of the FINAL was announced by Brian -- 2.30 PM sharp!

2:30 PM. Mike went like a rocket on track, 72 km to the east toward the mountains. A group with Tom, Carlos and John flew S from the track while Nicolas flew close the the track. Mike and a group were at 2000 m going NE. According to Brian it is critical in the first 15 min. to not get low over the valley, to climb out of it, to pass the mountains. He expects them to stay together and to fight it out later.

3 PM. Bruce in the lead at 1800 m climbing to 2000 m and a speed of 140 km/h. He continues all by himself, doing his "own thing". In the mountains now it's flying from peak to peak. Sebastian and Didier are together and 2700 is the height now at this stage.

Kai leading now, like yesterday, but then he got stuck and needed 20 min. to climb. It looks now that 3 groups will join in before the TP. Tilo flies at high speed -195 km/h. Good to see Petr Panek on this last day between the leaders. He still has zero points so I hope he gets at least one today. He was on a few days SO close!

3:15PM. Mike got behind, but climbed well to 3000 m. Graham, flying with Bruce is over 3000 m. Giorgio is with Sebastian and Didier. Tactics! Cat and mouse game under pressure and high over peaks. TP 1 was reached first by Graham at height 3000 m. Rene and Robert followed.THEN there is a bonus point for the pilot who reaches the TP 2 first and good height.

3:30PM. The race to TP 2 and the extra point was between Robert, Graham, Rene, Bruce, Tilo and Petr all in the leading pack. In between, the message arrived that Zintas had out landed. According to Eric it was a nice scenic route for his crew to pick him up.

3:40 PM. Rene, just over 3000 m, turned the TP first and got the extra point. He flew more straight to it, with 223 km on the clock ... but needed to climb really straight afterward, as he was down in the weeds but HAD the extra point! The pack turned the TP at St Crepin as well.

4 PM. Sebastian flies by himself now. Making big speed to catch the leading group, which is 12 km further. Graham is still in the lead and Tilo and Bruce following, all not able to fly OVER the top but using the slope first. Tilo has a comfortable run at 2400 m and leads before Graham and Robert and Petr. Tilo loved the racing yesterday and is still in that mood. Bruce needs a climb; Sebastian might see him now.

4:20 PM. They arrived at TP 3 with Tilo and Robert in the lead and high enough to get over the top with Graham and Sebastian following along the slopes. Bruce is still struggling to get higher and is passed by other pilots. Didier flies "on safe" but is more behind, because he stopped in lift. THAT IS AT THIS STAGE. Anything can happen. He is 1000 m higher then Sebastian but around 12 km behind. Tilo turns first at 1700 m and Robert followed as well; so did Sebastian and Bruce, both at 1400 m as well as Giorgio and Petr. Graham is at nearly 3000 m - more to the East - but still has to turn. Tilo races straight to TP 4; he is in the groove. In between Didier is 300 m lower and has to make the decision to go with Tilo or with Sebastian .

4:37 PM. Sebastian takes a more westerly route and Didier goes his own way more to the east. According to Brian he will be either extremely happy or very disappointed. By staying with Sebastian he could win the SGP—choices, choices. These 20 pilots are all courageous and go their own way.

Tilo is still in the lead  AND in the a good mood, with Sebastian on his tail. But then Tilo has to dig himself out of the valley to get over the ridges—he pushed too hard. Sebastian is trying to find lift as well at 1160, Robert at 1800 m, and Didier at 1633 m.

Roman outlanded and is back home—bad luck but ALL OK!

5 PM.  Still a long way to go, with Didier and Sebastian in the lead , Didier lucky catching the lift on the top of the ridge using the more favorable wind and Sebastian more unlucky as there was only sink in the valley; he was on the wrong place on the wrong 400 m. above the ground. As was Tilo earlier he went from the top of the back to spot 12. Running and climbing...THE BATTLE IS ON, between Sebastian who is at 1300 m. again about 100 m higher than Didier. Sebastian can pass the valley now. Didier is flying slowly over ridges trying to climb as best he could. At 1500 he went on track again.

5.22 PM. Everybody slowed down trying to keep their height.Mike showed up again as well as Graham and Uli. Thickening cirrus and lower temperatures , stopped the thermal activity earlier than expected. Mike showed up again, he was "history" earlier but he popped up again.John is back too and Bruce popped up as well. He was at 1900 m. Pretty high for that moment.

Not far any more then they will pass the last TP  and they all need to think how to stay high, as it is more difficult then expected and they still need to pass one high peak. In between Sebastian passed the valley and tries to get higher along the slopes of the mountain. Didier worked his way over the ridges and turns first at 1300 m. With a speed of 203 km./h. he knows he is soon at final  and using the slope effect he races home. A real struggle it is at the moment for ALL pilots. Uli passes the TP but low and Robert as well.Also John is low. Sebastian has passed the TP at 5.35.

The airfield is 520 m. high and they have to pass it above 50 m. Didier wins the day!!!!! He is in at 5.38.Good on him, he must be over the moon. He took his own decisions, of course he knows the area very well, but still ... a superb effort. He is applauded on arrival and Sebastian is still flying and Bruce is still 20 km. behind.So the race between 3d place might be between Uli and Bruce as there is only ONE point between them.

5.45 PMSebastian finishes at 5.47. So he is RUNNER UP!!!!!!! Good on him!!!! Uli is low  and might be 3d today when he is high enough over the finish line, and it looks like Bruce has gone to the Southern checkpoint instead of the North. It looks like Uli has passed Bruce to be number 3 overall. Good him!

Thomas landed back at Sisteron without finishing the task. Petr got in the points, perfect! He is not used to mountains.Bruce lands at 5.57.

So it is not sure yet who is on spot 4 if it is Giorgio or Bruce.It all depends on the scores. What a day this day 8, high and speedy in the beginning and low and slow in the end.

It was MY pleasure to keep you informed my way. LOVED this race . Thank you to all my friends giving me info and allowing me to use pictures to make colorful stories for you.Hope you liked it!
Congratulations to Didier ,Sebastian and Uli and to all other competitors for putting a great show on, flying safe and giving us a lot of joy.

Cheers Ritz

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