Ozone Chabre Open 2014 - Laragne Area
This friendly, stress-free paragliding cross-country competition will be run along similar lines as before: with the emphasis on safe, achievable tasks aimed at competent and experienced pilots not yet established on the competition circuit. Sponsored by Ozone, the event will include briefings, de-briefings, parties and prizes as well as great flying in a fantastic area.
The competition will be based at Laragne Campsite and will utilise Laragne-Chabre, Sederon and Aspres take offs. The influence of the Rhone valley some 100km away to the West and the Mountains 50km East and North have a huge bearing on the weather and the winds around those areas, not to mention the influence of the Mediterranean 100km south and the whole chain of the High Alpes running from Monaco to Geneva - perfect mix for any paraglider.
Laragne Area Sites Details
Laragne is the best known of the local sites . Many paragliders and most hang glider pilots will have heard of Laragne Chabre, but only recently have paraglider pilots discovered how good it is. Although it is better known to the Germans, Swiss, Czechs, Belgians etc. even the Brit paraglider pilots have now started to match numbers with the hang gliders. Conditions are often strongly thermal in early afternoon, especially in midsummer, as is the case with most other popular French Alpine sites. The site has enormous XC potential, particularly to the North and North East and is a great site for ridge flights to the West and back to land either to Laragne or Sisteron.
The site has a Balise on top giving weather information every 15 minutes on the FFVL frequency, 143.9875MHz this information can, however, require interpretation.
Sederon is approximately 30km to the West of Laragne, (a good cross-country home), and has the advantage of 7 takeoff and landing sites catering for all wind directions. Like many local sites it has its own weather pattern and a good day's flying can often involve flights from three different take offs. (A morning flight from Le Fort or Bergies South, a lunchtime XC from Bergies (North) and a nice evening restitution flight from Buc. Sederon is blessed with very friendly locals, farmers included, enabling a 'vache' (out landing) in almost any non-crop field, of which there are plenty. A local farmer is more likely to offer you a lift than tell you off. The local school here trains well over 200 pilots a year and has excellent training slopes and sites for first high flights (all of which can be used by other instructors by prior agreement of the local school).
Specifically the main Sederon sites are;
Bergies (North and South)
Bergies too has a Balise on top giving wind direction and strength every 20 minutes. It is generally flown in North West to North East winds. The Northerly take off is gentle and grassy and used as a morning training site by the local school and was described as the nicest in France by one famous British instructor, there is a road to the top mainly tarmac, and the North landing is an easy glide some 560 meters below. The northerly take off is also the main take off for cross-country flights from about midday on when the thermals start. The wide open valley to the East makes this site excellent for first cross country flights, lots of landing options and an easy and gentle glide to 6 or 7km is possible even if that second thermal remains elusive. The more ambitious can emulate Ingmar or Rachael and fly to Colmar or St Andre les Alpes just over 100km away or just head for Laragne or Sisteron.
Bergies' South take off is steeper with a cliff below which warms nicely in the morning sun so allowing earlier take offs for longer XC flights when flown in a Southerly wind. As at Laragne, the wind usually turns Westerly in the early afternoon and caution is required during and after this transition. This is the time to head off to Buc or go for a coffee and wait for the evening restitution to establish itself so you can soar for the rest of the day.
For English pilots Buc takes a bit of understanding but does give the feel of a British hill. Due to the influence of the Rhone valley to the West, the wind almost invariably veers Westerly on the site in the late afternoon, even on an Easterly day!, and at any time from about 2pm onwards (earlier in a Westerly or NW flow) Buc starts to work. After an initial couple of hours of thermal chasing, which often leads to a successful XC, the air smoothes out giving the opportunity of an evening of gentle restitution flying, ideal for confidence building for lower airtime pilots.
XCs from Buc generally involve either flying over Bergies and then east towards Sisteron or via Lachau and on to Ribiers. There are a multitude of variations on these routes including crossing onto the Laragne Chabre ridge. Landing areas are numerous with official landings at the foot of Buc, beside the school at Villefranche, or at the church at Lachau. But again there are innumerable fields owned by friendly locals in between.
Aspres has 3 take offs South, West, and North but only the southerly gets much use. This take off is a large grassy bank at the top of a huge (800m) hill with enough room to lay out dozens of gliders. The site is regularly used by the local schools for morning and evening training flights both on paragliders and hang gliders, however the site also has lots of XC potential and Grenoble is only some 50km to the North! There are a couple of landing fields in the large valley below: one directly below take off, the other at the sailplane airfield. There is also a lot of out landing potential but a few, unusually for this area, not all the locals are friendly! The site is also used by sailplanes from the airfield below, not to mention aeromodelistes, but is plenty big enough for all. Top landing is relatively easy, unusual for a French site. T the Balise is generally the most reliable around. Again the wind often goes West in the afternoon in summer but, due to the shape of the ridge this is not so much of a problem as the other take off faces West, unless of course strength increases.
Members of the Ozone team, including their top test pilots, will be on hand during the whole event, whether leading out on launch or contributing to the party atmosphere. The Ozone Chabre Open will feature a full program of extra activities including talks and lectures from paragliding skygods, debriefs of each day's task, the legendary Ribiers Paella/Pizza evening and a final day party.
All images are courtesy of Martijn van Dijk (www.evenementen.vandefotograaf.nl); Copyrights applied