Juniors rock at PG XC Pre Euro in Pegalajar
The Test event of the 17th FAI European Paragliding Championship has come to an end with 4 valid tasks out of 5 possible. The event was held in Pegalajar, Andalucia, Spain from May 1 to May 5, 2023. The prize-giving ceremony was held on May 6th as a joint party with Paragliding World Cup that is held right after. For the local community having two important airsports events held head to tail is an outstanding experience. It will also be a more serious test for the organisation running a fortnight comp instead of the usual week one.
There were 134 pilots from 18 countries competing. The nations with numerous participants were Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy. Among them, there were also 10 females from 5 countries (Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, France) and 13 Juniors from Spain and France. It is remarkable to notice the age spread - the oldest pilot was 75 years old while the youngest pilot was only 16. You can read an article with their interviews by this link.
Pegalajar flying site is known for many years - the first flight was made here back in 1990. Club Vuelo Pagalajar has been operating already for 33 years both in competitions and regular paragliding tourist activities. This place has hosted 2 events of the National League, 4 Spanish Championships, and 2 Pre-PWCs in the past 20 years.
The take-off has everything a paraglider may dream of: a clean grassy slope, wide enough for 3 gliders to launch, plenty of picnic tables in a shady area, a bar with a terrace, toilets, water, Wi-Fi, a caravan parking place, besides it takes 30 min walk from there to the town centre.
Competition-wise Pegalajar has great capacity with its very predictable and reliable weather, easily understandable meteorology and topology, and tourist-wise it is very welcoming for the visitors with its friendly atmosphere mix of folklore, tradition, and gastronomy that provides a unique experience that can last a lifetime.
During the event, 357 km were flown in 4 tasks which stands for 89 km on average. It could have been better if not for one day when the wind was not favourable to take off at the right time to have a longer task. So we had to wait till it takes the right direction to launch but then we already could not set it long enough.
In general, Pegalajar offers many interesting task-setting opportunities from triangles to straight lines, and flying here also requires sufficient knowledge. The terrain is a mixture of flat land and mountainous flying having valley winds, conversion lines, and other assets that will remind one of the necessities to study meteorology. The goal landings are vast and spacious - mostly sandy of grassy former agricultural fields without obstacles. The organisers always provided cold drinks, snacks, and fruits at the landing tent.
FAI Steward Goran Dimiskovski has highly praised the flying potential of the place, noticing a few things to be done better on the part of the organisation. You can watch an interview with him on CIVL Facebook. Still, with the coming week of PWC he will have all means to make it better.
As we have observed during the tasks, it was never possible to predict the winner as there were always these small decisions during the task that led to big results. It is remarkable to notice the obvious success of young and rookie pilots in this competition.
First of all, the winner in Overall is also a winner in the Junior category Ivan Haas from France - a 22-year-old pilot. He climbed to the top 5 only in the 3rd task and was never in the top 3 his best place being only top 4 in the task. Another 2 Junior Spanish pilots Roger Pifarré Abad José and Jiménez Belda were constantly present in the top 5-10 of every task.
And the youngest pilot in the competition Marco Sancho Fernández from Spain who is only 16 years old even climbed the podium of the Sport class of Spanish Nationals leaving behind pilots with decades of experience.
It is a pity that a 28-year-old Portuguese rookie pilot Rui Martins Aguiar who has won task 1 and came second on task 2, made a grave mistake in task 4 landing 5 km short of ESS that removed him from the podium. It was his first-ever international competition. In the final 101 km task in the last 20 km he ventured forward all alone leaving the whole leading group behind. They stopped for a thermal lift and he failed to find any.
The winners of the Spanish National League were Luis Martinez Iturbe - whom you may remember as the Team leader for the Spanish team at the European Championship last year - and Rika De Kam - a female pilot of Belgian origin that is currently flying for Spain.
So the event had a great success and we look forward to greeting the best European pilots here in Pegalajar next year.
Congratulations to the winners!
- Ivan Haas FRA
- Luis Martinez Iturbe ESP
- Francisco López Ricardo ESP
- Sandra Antony FRA
- Rika De Kam ESP
- Maite Moreno Benito ESP
- Ivan Haas M FRA
- José Jiménez Belda M ESP
- Roger Pifarré Abad M ESP
- Armada Portuguesa (POR)
- Hilsprich Racing Team (ESP)
- NIVIUK (ESP)
Here are some links to photos and videos that you may like to see to get more info about the event.
Goran Dimiskovski FAI Steward interview