Eastern, The Cathedral and the Holly Mary
Holly Friday (1999), Paracas, irónicaly at the "Cathedral"
(Bault shaped erosioned reefs 250 Km south of Lima - Perú)
The endless wait for the wind, 12:10 p.m, the wind comes in blowing at a delicious 22 Km/H totally facing the cliff, I take off and Eric decides to join me, I go straight ahead to the cliff next to the Cathedral, I ran into George there, we play a little bit bringing our wings next to each other, I move on, facing the wind to check its direction and speed, everything is OK, I ran into Diego and Rafael, I see Erick coming, I wait a little bit, everything is still OK, maybe a little stronger but not crossed, I decide to go across, the sun reflects itself on the different shades of the warm colors that are characteristic of the site, the birds have come out to fly with the blowing warm breeze.
I fly across pleased, its going to be a great day, the pictures are going to be perfect, normally I would take the pictures after noon, since the sun lights up the reef better at that time. Looking at the reef I can see my shadow, I can feel the turbulence, my glider is going to fast, I turn immediately to face the wind, but I still continue to drift, I can see Erick on his glider just coming across, I started to scream, I signal him, he waves, after insisting energically he takes notice of what´s going on, the wind has changed, and is too late for him too.
Eriiiiic..., ACELÉRATE FULL... ACCELERATEEEE:..., I can see his too tense, his glider is flying backwards, I'm surprised to see him fighting desperately (furiously) against the wind, in spite of the distance between us I can see the terror (fright) in his face, his wing it's really doing its job, he is managing to move forward a little, I on the other hand release the trims on my risers, thank god I have them, I'm barely moving, I step on my accelerator as hard as I can, the wing tries to collapse but holds on, I'm getting closer to him, I can see his really afraid, he's loosing a lot of altitude and almost not moving forward, I start taking pictures, I don't know why, I'm thinking it may give him the courage he needs and undermine the seriousness of his present situation, I try to give him the strength to continue by coming closer to him, he doesn't have that much experience and is in shock because of what's happening to him, I keep yelling: ACCELERATE...............
We're about to get to our savior Rock, Erick gets there but all of a sudden stops for a couple of seconds, the turbulence has hit him too hard, the wind is getting even more crossed and his loosing more altitude, finally his glider moves forward a little, I yell to him GO TOWARDS THE SEA, but he hesitates. He understands, moves away a little and finally gets to the corner, at this point his got at the most 10 m over the sea (pointbreak), I have lost too much height waiting for him and can no longer get across, I must get back to the previous (LADERA). While turning, I can nervously see Erick out of the corner of my eye, he gets across and I can't see him anymore, I can only hope he gets close to the shore.
I'm trapped, the wind gusts are now coming at over 50 kph, I'm trying to gain enough altitude to get away, I take a look around, I look inside myself for the strength to keep my head straight, I remember my Divine Mother, I implore her to help me through this, I acknowledge that the situation has become critically dangerous.
I can't go back since there are no landing areas there, and I don't have any altitude, and I'm barely a few meters over the edge, I get close to the reef and to try to land on top but the Cathedral is forming a huge rotor that doesn't let me go in, I loose 50 % of my wing, and not trying to be humble, I don't know how I could control it, considering that I had my trims totally released and was fully accelerated in a prototype glider, I thank god for that, loosing control meant loosing everything. Moving forward was impossible, I could barely stay in the same position THINK JOSE THINK!
I'm really scared, the sea is wild during the eastern week, going to the sea would mean to die being smashed against the pointbreak of the waves, my only chance would be to go back drifting outwards far away from the pointbreak of the waves and try to get 300 mts further back and then to swim to a small beach not far way, my years of profesional diver experience give me a little confidence but what about my my weight? 157kg does not give me a very good chance of being successful, maybe I could fight it for a couple of minutes but not much more.
I can see Dieguito and Rafael coming in the truck, they get close to the edge, and yell something at me, I cant hear them but at least I know I have my people there, I'm no longer alone, maybe now I'll dare to go in to land, maybe if I collapse the glider during landing they could help and with their help I could avoid leaving my skin between the rocks, I gather all the courage I can, I do the big ears and wait for what has to happen to happen.
Impossible... even with the big ears, as I'm getting closer and closer the movements increase, the wing tries to collapse desperately, I can barely keep it from doing that so I decide to abort this attempt.
I'm really low but I'm able to regain my position, everything its lost now, I'll have to opt for the ocean THINK JOSE THINK! I yell to myself, maybe to give myself some courage, maybe to let off some steam, analyzing my situation I realize it couldn't be worst, if I have to go the sea maybe it'll be better if I used the wind to get me closer to the beach, I tell myself that the wind may go down, it would be out of the ordinary but it could still happen so since it cant affect me now I decide to wait. My friends company helps me through this although they cant do anything for me and I can see their desperation and impotence, they are almost close enough to touch me and also so far away as to become silent witnesses of what's happening.
All of a sudden the unthinkable happens, the wind goes down a little, I only have about 10 meters over the ridge, but fully accelerated I can feel myself moving forward, I decide to play my last card, I retrieve to the sea trying to get to the Cathedral if the wind keeps constant for a few more seconds I'll be able to get at least to the outer part of the Cathedral, from there it would be easier for me to safe myself, actually I could get there I'd be pretty safe I would just loose my equipment, my equipment? what the hell... I step on the bar hard, and my accelerator ends up breaking by the raiser, thank God due to a previous incident I had secured it and its able to hold me still. I throw myself back hoping for the best while at the same time I release my helmet, harness an even my camera.
I get to the edge, my heart is beating furiously, I only have 4 mts of height and I'm ready to jump out if my harness. This will be my second time landing on water, I still remember when my spare failed in a security course in Switzerland, I must get out of my harness before touching the water. Luckily having the wind so crossed and strong it allowed me to maintain some height on the corner, I make a left turn and my heart its beating faster than ever the worst its over by now, it also comforts me to see that Eric's glider is not on the sea or the beach which means he's safe. I continued to fly 1 meter away from the ridge, I didn't loose to much altitude and finally got to shore at great speed brushing up against the waves.
I got ready, knowing what was waiting for me, I started to run even when I was still in the air, I touched ground with my right foot, followed with a big leap from my left one and finally tumbling on the ground, it's a pity no one filmed that landing (like the nice shots they did on me in the lake)
My body still hurts a little bit, my knee and my ankle, but at least I didn't even get a finger wet and for the moment I rather fly over land for at least a couple of days.
Eric Mennel: "I felt terror, instead of understanding you towards the see, I understood: you'll get killed..."
Rafael Plaza: "I landed flying backwards, barely with the glider open after a huge collapse"
Arturo Wong: "Still airborne, I felt inmense envy when I saw Rafael landed"
Diego Meza Cuadra: "When I saw you crossing and realised the wind speed I got really afraid for you guys"
Jorge Hernández: "That was too much, I thought you were not gonna make it, we have to celebrate tonight"
Jose Rosas: "Thanks Virgen Mary" K. C. G. G. V. V. S.
Minutes later the wind speed was over 40 mph and later a "Paraca" (desert storm) was formed