BIG Thursday ! 218 km FAI TRIANGLE

Thursday 10th of May

The forecast for thursday 10th and friday 11th looked pretty good -light winds to 3000 m and cumulus to 2500-3000 mts- which is just average for here. Quite a few pilots out on the Chabre including Alain Chauvet -the local "master" of circuit flying aroud the Laragne area, and the holder of most of the site records.
T.O. top south at 1pm with the first cumulus forming on the Chabre. As always I never know for sure where I'm going to try and fly too until I'm in the air and see how the day is developing (I've spent a fair bit of time studying maps to have a good idea of triangle, etc.). So off down the Chabre to a first turnpoint about 20 km to the west. As good clouds were forming to the north, I headed that way by Beaumont - the site of Aspres- and on into the big mountains leading up to Obiou at 2790m ( it's the other  high peak you see to the NW of Pic de Bure but further north and west). 
Approaching Obiou from the south

Looking north west from Obiou towards Grenoble
The summit of Obiou seen from the north and behind is the Pic the Bure
Montagne de Féraud, the thermal link between Obiou and The Ecrins
 2nd turnpoint off to the north of Obiou then headed SE down the edge of the Ecrins where when you reach the Piolit you have to get maximum height for the glide out across the Serre Ponçon lake to get on to the Morgon -then Dormillouse-  and down to l'Estrop.
I got to 3050m on the Piolet and went on glide towards le Morgon, the mountain the other side of the lake on the left

Approaching the Morgon
In front of l'Estrop looking south : you feel so small here ! The summit in the clouds
Here the cloud base was lower so I had to push out in front of the peak for turnpoint n°3. Came back up the Blanche toward Dormillouse before heading out west for Laragne. This is the most difficult leg as it's getting late and there was a westerly headwind (often the case). Fortunately the series of moutains I flew over each gave off a thermal (see trace) but on final glide I was sure I wouldn't make it, but luck would have it, a last thermal 5 km out gave me just the height I needed to glide over the small hills on the west of the campsite to get there with 200m to spare at 7.20 pm.
Laragne landing field and camping : what a welcome site ! (top of picture)
 6h20 flight time and average flight speed of 36 km/h, pretty pleased with that !  The FAI triangle record for Laragne on a rigid is by Gil Souviron  (European and world record holder) at 276 km. 
I looked up on Leornardo this week (the German/Austrian leagues internet site)  and there have been at least 13 circuits over 200 km and 2 over 300 km done in the Northern Alps on rigids, flexi's and p.g.'s !

Friday 11th of May
Pretty similar forecast to yesterday tried a similar triangle but with a 3rd turnpoint further south down at Saint André (would of been about 230 km if I'd got back) but I messed up behind the Cheval Blanc as I went the more direct route down Cote Longue, only to find myself in the lee side of the increasing westerly, and Cheval Blanc, and got "dumped" down near Thorame Basse, one valley north of Saint André. At least there are nice big open fields here ! 162 km flown and the same flight speed as yesterday.
Note : got on to the Morgon (2327m) much lower than yesterday (1600m), not knowing if I could get up from this low down but with landing options at the Serre Ponçon as the lake is quite low -but the afternoon westerly that sets up (which is why Saint Vincent works every afternoon) allowed me to ridge soar up then connect with thermal dynamic lift and then pure thermal lift to cloudbase.
I didn't plan on landing here, but part of the beauty of the sport we do !