This week-end was the very first edition of the French Alpine Cup in Briançon, in the heart of the Alps, close to the Italian border. Briançon is well known because it is the highest city in Europe, and Briançon claims to be the sunniest place in France with 300 days of sun per year ( A day is declared as sunny when there is more than 2 hours of sun during the day). Briancon is a very lovely city with its old fortified city. You can find more information on Wikipedia.
Following Caussols the week before, The French Alpine Cup was also over 3 days, and welcomed lots of foreign pilots taking benefit of 2 Eurotour contests in 10 days. Countries represented were UK, Czech Rep., Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, and France.
Saturday was initially the most promising day, with south breeze, but finally was a bit disapointing. After meeting at the car park, we continued the drive with 5 x 4*4 Pick-Up to transport the 28 competitors + organiseres and all the planes et equipment. After a quick installation and short briefing, we started to fly on the southern slope. The wind was steady but the lift was very variable, and the right turn could be sometimes very challenging with very few lift and some cross wind. No huge differences between the times, but some pilots taking benefit of temporarely improved lift and straight wind could fly faster by about 5 seconds compared to the average.
We manage 4 rounds, and were in the middle of the 5th round when the rain came with the thunderstorm. We got only one lightning, but shower was cold and "wet". The organiser decided to end the day because other thunderstorms were approaching. By the way, we had showers all the evening and all night long.
Saturday morning, the sky cleared, and weather forecast indicated that the wind was switching to the north. After the usual drive to the slope with the 4x4 pick ups, we waited 2 hours for the wind before to resume the comp and start round 5. Conditions growed continuously all the afternoon, starting from 7 to 8 m/s to finish at about 13m/s. The slope is at 2400m of altitude, and pilots discovered that, at this altitude, it is not good to ballast too much. Where you fly usually with 1.2, 1.5kg, here you fly with 750g to 900g, not more. The lift is in fact lower than we could expect because of the lower air density. But at the end the speed can be the same of even higher. At that game Sebastien Lanes, Matthieu Mervelet, Reto Blumer, Frederic Hours, and myself did well, achieving some sub 40s. At the end of the day, we managed 6 rounds, so a total of 10 rounds already with one more day to come ! Not that bad ... After 10 rounds Sebastien Lanes was first with a comfortable margin, Matthieu is second, I'm third followed very closely by Fred Hours and Reto Blummer.
On sunday, the wind was supposed to blow stronger than Saturday, so we were expecting to fly earlier. But the North wind decided to blow from 2pm only, so we have been able to complete 2 extra rounds, but with strong conditions and blistering times under 40s. The battle at the top of the ranking was at its maximum. Reto shooted first and flew in 39s, like myself later, when other top pilots were around 44 / 45s including Sebastien, but he was untouchable. With this 39s, I was second bypassing Matthieu, keeping Reto behind but still closed to me, and Reto bypassed Matthieu and Fred. In the last round Reto did a cut so finishes with a 43s. Fred did a 39s, but few minutes later Matthieu exploded the chronometer with a 34s, followed by Sebastien with a 37s ! Difficult situation for me before to fly. I launched for this last round with the idea in mind to limit the damages, but I was lucky enough to have good air, and this made my Pike very happy (and very fast), so I achieved a 34 also, beating Matthieu by 0.2 s and wining the round, with the fastest time of the competition as a bonus !
Ather completing the second and last round of the day, we drove down to the car park around 4pm for the results and price giving. And the winner is ? ... Sébastien Lanes fly seriously F3F for few years only, but follows his father Philippe who is a piller of the French F3F community for years. He won or did very well already in few comp of the french league, but recently started to participate to Eurotour events in Austria and France. Sebastien flew very consistently over the week-end, didn't cut even if he played with the base (according to him), found quickly the right flying path and the best turn style for each slope, and finally managed very well the pressure of the end of the contest. Sebastien flies a Target and likes it very much ... well given the final result, I can understand ! Congratulation Sebastien !
This first Alpine Cup has really been a success with a little help from the weather. Alain Gallinet and Frederic Hours really did a great job to organised this comp. A big thanks also the the judges, to the young course directors Thomas Delarbre and Joël Marin. For information the Alpine Cup will now be every 2 years in alternance with Laurac/St Ferriol FAI.