Friday, July 12, 2013

it can always get harder

... and it did yesterday. This was the biggest struggle you can think of mixed with fear of gliders performing ridiculously dangerous maneuvers. I just have to mention it because it was insane at some stages. There were 40 gliders (all classes) in gaggles spread over maybe 200 m altitude (between 300 m and 500 m AGL) and some ladies had the wonderful idea to join thermals like that, at the same altitude, pulling up like crazy. How stupid is that? Flarms were yelling RED all the time and I had some gliders at my 6 o'clock less than 5 meters. It was scary but on the other hand you had to stay with them to survive ...
Weather was worse than marginal. Very strong winds and convection (0.5 - 1 kts) up to some 1800 ft AGL when they launched us. It then got "higher" to 2500 ft AGL. The whole flight was like this. Absolutely crazy.

myself (photo by organizers)

Asia (photo by organizers)

Coming back home was the hardest part especiall for club class gliders. There was 15 kts headwind and almost all of tem landed out - some managed to cross the finish line before doing so. We were lucky to have the high performance gliders that don't care much about wind and made it back over the finish and to the runway.
Something just had to happen and we were extremely lucky that there was no mid-air yesterday. We ended up with one hard landing in a field short of the runway. Glider seems to be OK but the pilot was taken to the hospital for observation over night and released this morning. Another glider ended up 15 meters above ground hanging in the trees. It took them hours to free out the pilot, who was taken to the hospital as well and will be released this afternoon. Glider is still hanging in the trees ... Sometimes I just cannot understand the amount of risks taken for something that it supposed to be fun. In my opinion we shouldn't have been flying yesterday but I'm not the one to decide.

Yesterday's results:



Today is the last day. The organizers seem to want to be more cautious about the conditions. The deal is: if we're not gonna get 3000 ft AGL at 2 pm we will not fly. Tasks are ready, so are we. We will see what happens.

Here are few pics taken by Ogonek:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

struggling through day 8

According to all met men it was supposed to be the best day of the comp. Nice and fast. Well, it was supposed to ... In the end it was the slowest and possibly trickiest day of the comp. Tasks were not long but we needed forever to complete them fighting against up to 20 kts winds. Asia and I went on task and were flying together again. After the first turn point we met up with the "Germans + followers" gaggle. We then escaped again and Asia got bit lower so I continued forward till ... I got low. Asia rolled me over on top and stayed in the front from there. So did the gaggle. I shifted gears and caught up with the "Germans + followers" gaggle and stayed with them till the end. We managed to get closer to Asia but never completely got her. She was doing really well yesterday. It was bloody windy up there, thermals were low, weak and broken up. The 90 km leg into the wind was a huge struggle. Every time we stopped to top up altitude in at the most 1.5 m/s the wind pushed us back 3 km. It went on and on like this. Carrying water in the weak thermals was painful but being without it with this headwind was almost suicidal. I stuck to the golden middle and dumped 1 min 45 sec. This gave me enough comfort to use the thermals and also to penetrate into the wind.
All photos below are either by Ogonek or the Organisers:

Ziggy helping me to strap in

showing off my braces

Here are the daily results:

Total after 8 days:

And "the pain" on the OLC:

all good - get me up there

no, we're not talking about tactics

I think he's pretty serious

Today will be a lower day with more wind. Gliders are on the grid and we are waiting for the briefing. I'm taking off from the very first row today and will have the "privilege" to explore the conditions. Let's hope it will be sort of flyable. This is how we look from the air perspective (yesterday's grid):

photo by organisers

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

day 7

It started out nicely and then got tricky. There were severe thunderstorms to the south. They looked spectacular from the distance but managed to influence conditions in the task area. We had to fly a big detour to follow the bits of clouds. It was working and we never got too low but were pretty slow. We went fairly deep into the first area and then just basically touched the remaining two. It was not a pleasure to fly in yesterdays conditions but it was, as always, huge pleasure to fly XM. She's just gorgeous.

Yesterday's results:



I noticed that I'm flying evenly every day. I have no problems completing tasks and have reasonable speeds. There is just a touch missing somewhere to make it all faster. It doesn't need much - just few km/h every day. I'm very comfortable with the glider. The way she flies is just amazing and I'm sitting very comfortably. There is no muscle power required for steering (so different from all Polish build gliders) so I'm not suffering any muscle pain at all. In fact, I'm physically not really tired even after a long flight. This is just great. I think the only bit remaining is to figure out how to gain these additional few km/h. It will come with experience though.

Last night was the famous Baba Yaga Party. Witches were good but we were missing some music there to make them dance like they usually do. It was also the very first Baba Yaga for our World Championships newcomers Agata and Judyta. They underwent the whole introduction procedure. They were very sceptic to start with but few beers and punch did the job. They participated and seemed to enjoy it.


Kerry's first one

with our mentor

Agata's first

Judyta's first

Czech team captain Petr will be participating in the next Women's Worlds


Today will be a very challenging day. There will be thunderstorm activity here and very strong winds aloft. We're hoping for AAT tasks to give us a chance. It will be another tricky day which might turn out to be the most challenging one. We all know that  it's also a matter of luck on a day like today. There might be people achieving humongous average speeds - when they happen to hit the right phase of building up thunderstorm. There will also be outlandings if you miss the right phase. 30 minutes to the briefing and we'll know it all.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

first reasonable day

Hey, would you believe if I told you that there can be soarable days in France? Yesterday was one indeed. We had Cu's and there was some lift underneath! Unreal ;) We struggled a bit trying to get to the cloud base after release but then went really well on task. The cloud base went up as the days progressed and we were reaching 5500 ft at some stages. Clouds were pretty close together so flying straight for longer periods was possible. It was a nice task and nice day - just right.

Daily results:

Total after 6 days:

And as usual the OLC:

My whole flight was just 4 hrs and 40 min - much shorter than what we're used to over here. The ground crew - so used to us being away for over 6 hours - didn't cope with all their tasks. They were joking they should tell us to stay up one hour longer so that they can catch up with everything.
Our team captain was waiting with his camera while we were landing and took these few cool shots. It's good to have him cause my crew is perfect but pretty much hopeless with a camera ;)

The morning briefing will be an hour later today. There was an unfortunate incident during landings yesterday.  One of the German pilots lost control over her glider after touchdown and collided with a Polish glider that already came to a stop on the runway. Everybody is OK but two club class gliders damaged and they can't be fixed on the spot. We already know that the Polish girl will be able to get another glider to fly. We will know more after the briefing.
Weather looks all right for today again. There might be some thunderstorms developing in the south. They are also planning the traditional Baba Yaga night tonight so they better not overdo the tasks. We have to be back early enough to be able to have a shower and get nicely dressed for the party.

Monday, July 8, 2013

after day 5

cool T-shirt purchased from the British Team

Yeah, what am I supposed to write today. I struggled big time yesterday. It started off beautifully and the first leg was a run. I mentioned on the radio that it was too good to be true and sure enough we hit a big blue hole on the way to the second turn point. Then the wind got stronger and started messing up with thermals. They became very hard to work with, especially at low levels. I lost connection to the first group and had to shift to 6th gear trying to get them back. I still had some people behind me and lower so I wasn't quite on my own. Asia was still within the first group but then lost them as well. At some stage I was 20 km behind Asia and really desperate to catch up. The day was dying and we had to be very patient working the weak thermals and flying with best glide speed. I almost managed to catch Asia again and finished not quite 2 minutes after her. I was really exhausted but happy to be back without the need to fire up the engine like some others did.

Daily scores:

Total after 5 days:

And my flight on the OLC:

lining up for the scales this morning

Task setters here are using every flyable bit of the day. They basically leave us no room for play with the starting time. You have to go as soon as you are ready to do so, otherwise the day will be over before you get back. My flight yesterday was again almost 6 hrs 30 min although I went on task just 10 minutes after the gate opening. I'm really curious what's in for us today. One thing is sure though: whatever it is, it's not gonna be easy. We've learned that bit already.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

another day in ... paradise (?)

We did race again yesterday. For the first time the 15-m class had an AAT task. In 4 h 30 min we managed to cover 440 km distance. It was very hard work ... again. The max height was about 4000 ft AGL and the average lift for the flight was 2 kts. We were really lucky to have clouds marking the weak choppy thermals. Asia mentioned at some stage the level of our suffering and I told her that it could have been worse if we had no clouds at all. It felt better straight away.

Daily results are here:

Total after 4 flying days:

My flight on the OLC:

We are flying 6 hours every day so it becomes physically challenging too. Your mind is being drained beyond imagination and the flight keeps you so busy that you don't even think about having something to eat to keep the energy levels up. After you land all you can think of is a shower and a bed and you kind of force yourself to eat something before you do the above two. It looks like we'll be flying every day till the end of the competition so it will turn into an endurance game.

photo by Ogonek

We are waiting for the briefing and tasks are already published on soaring spot. For us it means 440 km racing task: