Chris, Kris and Andy spent two weeks in Piedrahita (Spain) with Chris in early July - both Kris & Andy achieved personal bests. Chris acted as retrieve driver! There was a large contingent of Kiwis in Piedrahita - Russell Read, Craig Collins, Grant Middendorf, Jasmine Hill, Sheralee MacDonald, Angus and Gette Tapper, and Fiona Dalziel (a NZer living in the UK) - approx. 3% of the NZ paragliding population!
The first week was spent cruising around the hill near Peidrahita, and attempting (unsuccessfully) to "jump the gap" at Villafranca - about 12 kilometres from the launch. The NordicOpen was on at the same time that Kris and Andy were there - 140 competitors. Circling with 80 - 100 other paragliders in thermals is a little bit like riding a huge fairground attraction - all these brightly coloured wings circling around you in the same direction.
A few days before the departure date Kris flew 38 kilometers and then 42 kilometres the final day. Both days he caught a low thermal from an area above a quarry, going straight up to 3000 metres (10,000 ft). The area surrounding the quarry has lots of wild thyme - which you could smell it for quite a distance up the thermal!!
At one stage Kris was King of the thermal - with 150 paragliders lower down. An amazing feeling! Another time Kris was circling in a thermal with a kite - a European bird of prey. - with each eyeing the other cautiously!
Andy managed to fly 51 kilometres on the final day of flying.
Piedrahita, where we stayed, is a wonderful little city - there are no other tourists other than paragliding and hang gliding pilots - so it makes it a rather nice place! Piedrahita also has lots of storks - there is a tree just outside the place we stayed had over 20 nesting in it!! The food in this region, however, isn´t anything to write home about - french fries with everything, and most other things are deepfried... The tapas and calamari however are good.
After several of our flights we went to a little swimming hole in a river about 20 kilometres away - huge square blocks of granite which you can lay on, and a deep pool to jump into to cool off. Over the pool was a 10 metre high stone arch bridge - lots of photos were taken! We took baguettes, Spanish cheese, olives, tomatoes and cheap Spanish red wine - it was absolute paradise...