Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two nice pictures

Artem, a Russian artist/comedian/photographer made these 2 pictures of me launching in Bassano. For me, the second picture really captures the energy/intensity of a launch. I love it :-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Austrian Open, 3 tasks, great flying

We had 3 really great days of flying at the Austrian Open. The tasks were 70, 120 and 150 km. I was short on the first day (50 km out of 70), but made goal on day 2 and 3! 120 km and 150 km were 2 consecutive personal bests for me :-)
It delivered me 21st place on 53 participants in the overall standings, which was better than expected. I hoped to end in the first 2/3 and ended up well in the first half. The target for the Europeans now is first 2/3 and I want to be on the podium for the Belgian Championship. Top 10 in the Dutch Open would finish it off... We'll see.
The scenery in Austria was stunning, with the bright fresh snow on the mountains. It was really nice to see all those mountains I had walked/climbed on before. Steinerne Meer, Watzmann, Hoher Sonnblick, Tennengebirge, ... I definitely want to fly there more often!

Thanks to the points earned in the German Open, I'm currently 346th on the world ranking. Should be in the top 200 by the end of summer. Maybe even in the top 150? Stay tuned ;-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Austrian Open, here we come

Yesterday we at last had a nice flight in Bassano. Nothing extraordinary, a relatively short 1 hour flight, but I enjoyed it very much. Thermals were weak at first but then we got overdevelopment and I landed after doing the first wingover-alike moves with the combat. Quite an experience, you really feel the energy retention. It's so nice when the speed gradually bleeds off when you rise back into the air. There will be more fun in the future :-)
Today we drive towards Zell am See, where we will probably have three flyable days for the Austrian Open. Competition time again. Keep your thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bad weather all over the alps

The last three days, we headed for Bassano del Grappa on the south border of the alps, because it looked to be the only flyable place in the complete alpine region for a few days.
We drove there through torrential rains, the car aquaplaned at 80 km/h and you don't want a lot of that with the gliders on top...
We found beautiful weather in Bassano, if it wasn't for the foehn. 50 km/h north winds with extreme turbulence. No flying... So, now where wednesday and we haven't been flying since saturday. Today look reasonable to good, so we'll see what happens. We will fly for sure!
The forecast for the Austrian Open has dramatically changed and should give us three good days (friday, saturday and sunday). Keep your fingers crossed for that! Thanks ;-)

German Open, 2nd task

Yesterday (well, saturday that was) we had the second task of the German Open. The weather conditions were difficult again. A lot of clouds and a lot of shade, especially in the mountains.
The task committee decided on a short 47 km task heading out into the flats with a return to the alpine border. Cloudbase was about 200 meters above the mountain top when I launched. The conditions were really weak and we were all thermalling very close to each other, but it was really nice and safe due to the mellow conditions. With my rather large 14 m2 wing, I managed to climb to the top of the gaggle. It really felt good :-)
However, as I was on top and reached cloudbase, I had to make a decision. Head out and start the task, or wait and see what the others do. I decided to head out to reach the more sunny flatlands as soon as possible. I started gliding and noticed that no-one followed me. Ok, let's just try it. I picked a hill as the most likely thermal source and indeed there was something when I arrived there. But not much. I was trapped there for 45 minutes, before I slowly got higher again.
When I reached 1300 m, which is 700 m above ground, I decided to look for the next thermal. 2 kms further, above the autobahn, I found a nice 1,5 m/s second thermal which I left early in an attempt to outrun the increasing cloud cover. It was a mistake, I should have taken it 300 m higher and I found myself on the ground a few minutes later.
However, it wasn't a bad idea to leave early, because half of the pilot's didn't even make minimum distance. On the other hand, my 17th place only gave me 137 pts compared to the 111 for minimum distance or less.
The end result is that with a 21st and a 17th position during the tasks, I found myself in 23rd position overall. That puts me just in the top half (46 participating pilots) and I do not feel bad about that.
More important is that I felt very good after the flight. The fixed harness gives me a much better flying position and I felt a lot better what the Combat was doing. I also thermalled a lot slower and thus tighter. Looking forward to the next flights!