I launch and head north immidiatly. My first leg should take me 25 km to the north cape of Lanzarote – one of the coolest ridge runs of the planet! I am soaring close to the hills in good dynamic lift making my way towards the 'Risco de Famara', an impressive vertikal cliff reaching 600 m out of the ocean. After 5 km continously gaining height in a straight flight I find myself in a good position for approaching the first spine. I jump over the last valley and get ready for strong dynamic ridge lift. To my left beneath me the beautiful bay of Famara stretches across and I can even see the wave sets rolling in. From now on I will glide along the cliffs without any landing possibilities; or better without any easy retrieve.
Approaching the big cliff
I am starting to race right next to the cliff's top at its strongest uplift. Due to the fast air speed I cannot hear my vario but I am confident in the geodynamic ridge lift. One steep trench after the other passes by which directly end into the sea. A lot of bird life makes the cliff to a busy airport! Suddenly I am not alone anymore and some curious sea gulls try to get next to my wings. But I am speeding too fast for them to keep up, funny birds and a good company!
2kms off shore
Already after 15 min I get to the end of the ridge. I look for a good thermal to make cloud base and to set my turnpoint as far as possible off shore. From 600 m I make it up to 1.200 m and I top out. Gliding over the sea reminds me of flying at Stanwell Park playing the chicken game with Gerolf: the pilot who turns around first looses. I am very happy that nobody of my austrian mates is now flying next to me – thank god!
Lanzarote left, La Graciosa right
After gliding 2 km over open water I turn around – chicken? With 20 km/h cross wind from the right I head back enjoying this unique perspective view of Lanzarote in front of me! I am now even closer to the little island of La Graciosa about 1 km to my right. I am still 800 m high and easily I could fly there looking for a thermal. But I am not pushing my luck to far! I just have an eye on it if getting short and keep heading back.
Finally I reach the cape again and from 600 m I get back into the ridge lift. Flying close to the edge of the rising cliff I directly pass by 'Mirador del Rio', a crowded tourist look out place. Of course I cannot resist doing some over-shoots while all these camera lenses go from focusing down to straight up! After some fun introduction of our sport of hang gliding I am off racing back. 15' later I am over take off again closing 50 km out-and-return in one hour. It is 12 am and I decide going for it another time to make it a 100 km Jojo!
The village Teguise,take off at the last white spot (house) under the village
Conditions keep improving and I take my time making pictures: ridge run, chicken game, scaring tourists. Also the wind has turned more northerly which means almost tail wind on the way back. After a relaxing second ridge run I make it back to take off. I find a good thermal and easily I get up to cloud base at 1.200 m! Finally I see a bunch of gliders but many of them are low and struggling due to cross wind at the hill. I check the conditions on course to the south where beautiful cu's peppering the whole island. I decide to leave the ridge behind and go for the real adventure: crossing the whole island from cape to cape!
With the landscape also the flying changes from dynamic to thermal flying. I am now on the way inside the vulcanic island which is not piled with many landing places. I make it over the dessert of El Jable trying to stay high before I reach the bad lands of La Geria – 25 km of devil's land!
One little vulcano after the other passes by beneath me and I am quite busy with thermalling, decision making and taking pictures! After an epic flight over this impressive moon scenery I reach Femes, the very last mountain pass in the south of Lanzarote. Leaving the black lava fields behind me I made it over the worst part now.
At 700 m and just over the peak I start looking for my last thermal of the day before going on final glide. It is 3:15 pm and I already can see the south coast of Lanzarote in 15 km distance! I head into the wind looking for lift and find the best thermal of the day with 4 m/s. I easily get up to 1.300 m and while I am circling I enjoy the 360°-panorama of the island. This was quite my position when I was flying over to the next island of Fuerteventura two years ago. I check again the conditions but there is too much cross wind to make it over the 14 km wide sea channel. Maybe that inter-island flight should stay as the first and only one.
I decide to go on final glide to the south coast to complete this XC-flight from cape to cape. On the way I spot enough landings around the village of Playa Blanca. After 16 km I reach the light house still 700 m high. I cannot resist to keep on going to play the chicken game again...
The view to Fuerteventura is cristal clear and welcoming like an invitation! But not today. Now 1 km off shore at 600 msl I turn around to reach the shores of Lanzarote again safe and sound. With my last turnpoint I set up a 136 km distance flight crossing the whole island. I glide another 5 km making it just to a big landing field next to the main street.
After a flying time of 3h40' I touch down in Playa Blanca with a big smile on my face – the perfect season ending on 31st of December! But this task is still not finished yet. It is hot and with three turnpoints over the blue atlantic sea I am hungry for it. Or should I better say thirsty!? I phone up my friends trying to arrange my retrieve and pack up my glider. One hour later I finally make it to goal jumping into the warm sea of Playa Dorada... Happy New Year!