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British Open Championship 2009

British Open Championship 2009

What an adventure! I planned the trip from Toulouse knowing that a competition at the end of June in the Pyrenees would be tough, but if I could survive that I could have a chance at a good result in Piedrahita. I never imagined I could end up on the podium and only 80 points off winning the British Open!

The wing was on the pace from the start. Moving up from a serial glider to the Mag6 allowed me to aim at far away gliders and reach them fast. The precise handling meant I could keep going even if I things got tough after a long glide.

The French Open tasks were racy, with lots of turn-points. We flew in 3 valley systems: two of them with quite strong winds. Weather conditions were great for the first 3 tasks, with cloud-base up to 3000m. Sometimes we had to be patient to wait for the inversion to break and allow us to reach higher cols. Glider handling was crucial to get a good position in tight, crowded thermals.

We also met some really hot thermals on south facing rock faces. The turn-point at Lac D’Espingo was an unforgettable high mountain corrie, surrounded by snow filled slopes. By this time I had lost the leaders and finished a relatively slow 55th.

The 3rd task had me break the accelerator line I had originally used on my serial glider. It ruined my overall result, since I decided to land after no longer having ground-speed on my MLR and the risk of high-winds due to storms building from the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. I tried to be positive and set myself an impossible target of moving from 56th overall to 30th. This meant that on the 4th task I was fast, being at the top of the lead gaggle several times. I finished the 51km, 8 turn-point task in the top 20, just 2 minutes behind the leader in 1h38mins.

We packed up and drove to Piedrahita ready to fly the next day. Then we had 2 days rest due to high winds.

After the complexity of valley systems in the
Pyrenees it seemed that Piedrahita was relatively simple. Now we had very long glides, with a chance to compare glide performance over 10 minutes. The Magus was very good at glide, working the trimmers and speed-bar on and off according to how turbulent the air was. Thermaling was great fun in both wide and tight cores.

Then the good progress I had made in the
Pyrenees really started to pay-off. 12th after task 1, 7th after task2, 4th after task3...I knew we needed at least one more task. The last task was a relatively short 51km, after doing a total of 341km in the first 3 tasks. Was it coincidence that the distance was the same as that 4th task in the Pyrenees? I treated it the same, determined to race home as fast as possible and try to catch a podium place. I needed 40 points better than Lee Garcia Davies on his Sol Tracer – which would probably be about 3 minutes faster. I got a great climb over the pass and stopped only at really strong climbs. Gliding in from 15km, I passed 3 gliders still turning. I tried to dolphin the lift, by slowing down, but not turning and it started to pay-off.      

Chris Harland


I counted the gliders in front and worked out I could finish 7th, with no sign of Lee, nor the 1st or 2nd placed UP Edge gliders. I landed feeling really good about my chance of getting on the podium, not realising that Cecilio Valenzuela, the current leader had landed short. It meant that my consistency had got me an almost unbelievable 2nd place.  Well done to Olympio Faissol for a much deserved 1st place and first Cat2 win.

Thanks go to Nia for keeping me calm during the 2 weeks and being a great support and photographer. Next stop the last ever Bleriot Cup at Moustiers and final round of the British Championships at St.Jean Montclar in the Southern French Alps.



Results overall

2nd place Chris Harland (Magus 6)

7th place  Hugo Robben (Magus 6)

14th place  Craig Morgan (Magus 6) 


We congratulate to all competition pilots