Wow, while being in Macedonia for the pre-Euros, there was an epic flying day in the low countries and Northern Germany. Dirk Ripkens and Reinhard Pöppl flew a 350+ km flight from Trier, landing south of Nürnberg. Congratulations to both! Sauber!
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Based on the weather predictions, we set a 125 km task in the morning. But on launch, it soon was evident that things looked more complicated, so we decided to enlarge some cylinders and reduce the task to 105 km. And that turned out to be quite a tough cookie! Here's a replay of the task.
For those on the first start gate, we initially had quite fast racing along the ridge. My timing to cross the flats was a bit off. I went for a cloud that started collapsing, so I had to change my plans, go perpendicular to the course and survive on a hill for a while. After climbing out there, I flew into the shaded valley, which luckily had some small cumulus wisps under the cloud cover.
The next thermal was a weak one, but I had to take. After 10 minutes of turning in 0,5 m/s up, Matjaz glided towards me and started turning 500 m before me in a 3 m/s thermal. So close and I had no clue it probably was there all the time...
Meanwhile, Primoz had flown over our heads at cloud base. He was on his way to nice line of clouds from the power plant to our turn point. Flying straight over one of the cooling towers at 2000 m was a cool sight. Strangely, the top edge wasn't nearly a perfect circle, looked like a badly made scale model from up there :-)
While flying to the 2nd turn point along the east side of the valley, the idea was to return north along the same route, to get back into the sun on the east side, before crossing the west to take the last turn point. But, after turning around, that line didn't look very active anymore and it looked like there was some convergence which would allow crossing the valley in the dark shade. That didn't work as well as expected, but it still was an amazing glide and I just managed to get into the sun near the last turn point.
The climb out was slow and didn't take me very high, but it was enough to take the turn point and head back in the valley to take another climb before final glide. And then it became quite a struggle. The next climb was weak and only took me to a 15/1 glide into goal. I attempted it, but after 2 km on 10/1 decided to turn around and try to go further north to find a better climb in the sunny area of the valley. Flying away from goal was such a strange feeling! I had to climb out from pretty low again, but this time, the thermal was better and I could glide into goal from the cloud wisps at 2000 m.
After those detours, I was surprised to find out I was first in goal, especially because Primoz had distinct advantage on me on the second turn point. But, it turns out to be a 1000 point task win :-) Quite proud of that in this field!
The view in the late afternoon sun was just magnificent. This valley is beautiful and I took my time on the final climb to just enjoy the view. I'll definitely come back here. It's beautiful, the people are very friendly and the flying has a lot to offer due to the nice combination of valley and mountain flying.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Day 3 started with rain in the morning and almost everyone was already giving up the idea of having a flying day. Briefing was delayed until 11:30 and because the sun started to appear at that time, we went to the Treskavec launch on the west side of the valley. Whilst driving there, the conditions improved dramatically, the question just was when the thermal activity would start and if there would still be enough time for a task.
We set a 75 km task, which was pretty optimistic at the time, because although clouds were abundant on the east side of the valley, there were few in our area and we also didn't have thermal cycles passing by launch. But, we wanted to get everything going as fast as possible, to have a reasonable task window.
The rigids launched first and all thermaled up, be it slowly. So, there was hesitation with the flex to launch, because it was easy to bomb out. I launched quite early behind Primoz, Alex and Anton. The best part of the cycle had just passed and I saw the others climb out while I had a bit of a struggle. In the meantime, the wind sock on launch showed winds from the back and no-one could launch for quite a while. I realized that probably few people were going to be able to take the only start gate in time.
I searched around in the area and very slowly gained height. A few minutes before the start gate, people launched again, straight into a strong thermal. Primoz and Anton were able to take the start gate, while I thermaled up in the 25 pilot gaggle. The majority of the pilots, including me, took the start gate 7 minutes late. For the task, it would have been better if we would have added another start gate.
Anyway, I enjoyed being in the air after dark grey morning skies and we started racing. My glide to the first turnpoint was bad and the clouds in the valley looked nice. I had nothing to lose in the overall standings, since I messed up the first task, so I could take the risk of trying it on my own through the valley. And it worked out super nice with beautiful climbs. The flying was very enjoyable and the late afternoon light was just beautiful. Sasha made some beautiful pictures while flying.
I hadn't seen anybody along the course and flew into goal first. Always nice ;-) The naughty lawyer was there to capture the moment:
Thursday, August 20, 2015
The weather predictions for day 2 called for weaker conditions and almost no thermal activity in the valley. So we thought a rather short 80 km task would probably be hard enough. The predicted SW winds also meant that we needed to take off rather soon, to avoid being lee side later in the day and not being able to take off. So we ended up with a long launch window.
Turns out that the conditions were quite a bit better than predicted and most pilots immediately went to cloud base after launch. For me, it was quite a struggle and I worked for 1,5 hours to get back up from low. So I was lucky with the late start...
Since I had messed up yesterday's task, there was no point in holding back, so I went for it flat out. And of course, it's not a really good idea to do that right from the start. After 25 km I glided out on a bad line and lost quite a bit of time in a lee side thermal which was completely broken up. After that, it was a low and slow struggle to get through the shaded valley.
Once on the other side of the valley, there was a bit more sun which resulted in a long final glide at 15/1. Well, it was nice flying, but we definitely undercalled the task... which resulted in many happy faces at goal.
You can watch a replay of the task. A bit of a shame that only 15 pilots had activated their phones.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Yesterday we set a 124 km task, based on an optimistic weather forecast. Immediately after launching, the conditions were clearly weaker and more turbulent than expected, but I was confident that the conditions would improve rapidly.
Turned out I was wrong. I kept looking for a better thermal which would bring me to cloudbase, but couldn't find one and was scratching rather low the for 1,5 hours, missing the first start and obliged to take the second start low.
My flight didn't last long after that. I landed after a miserable 13 km.
Almost all did far better and 4 pilots made it to goal. Elio won, with Suan in second, followed by an incredibly low final glide by Balasz. Tullio made it to goal as well. Congrutalions! Also a strong performance by Sasha, who missed goal by 4 km.
Balasz his glide was unbelievable. From a few km's out, it was certain he wasn't going to make goal. It looked like he could turn around at any time to land. But he came closer and closer to us, seemingly without losing height and made it in with a few meters to spare.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Now, this sucks. For 2015, I planned to do less competition flying and focus more on pure XC flying, trying to get the max out of a day. And the coming week should have been perfect for that. A week in Southern Spain, based with the Frenchies at Caceres. The idea was to leave for Spain today, but this morning I got a message stating that one of the 2 tow pilots is unable to be there. Looks like I need to look at an alternative.
The Alps look good for Friday and Saturday...
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
We're having great times right now. Our group, 15 pilots strong, is flying the Annecy area and we're lucky enough to have great flying conditions. The idea is to fly together and do some XC-flying. The area is outright beautiful, with snow capped mountains all around. Yesterday, Kurt and I flew a nice 80 km flight, soaking in the views. Today's idea is to fly to the Aravis range and, if the conditions look good enough, into the Chamonix valley. 2 More days before the bad weather arrives and we'll get out of here...
Crossing the Annecy lake during the first leg of yesterday's flight with Kurt:
And this is on the way back to Annecy:
Everyone is just having good fun. Some are flying cross-country and some beginner pilots are doing local flights. No-one has outlanded yet. Time to push it a bit more and go twice as far ;-)