Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 Europeans, task 3, 22nd!

A 112 km task was set yesterday on a day which had a very pronounced inversion. People were not looking forward to the start gaggle as very dense traffic was expected due to the low thermal height. It was indeed very busy!
The day before was cancelled to strong winds and I bought some cycling gloves because my gloves are too hot for Spain. But... I pulled the VG when I jumped from one thermal to another above the start. When I wanted to release it when I entered a busy thermal, the VG rope got stuck around my bare fingers after only releasing a tiny bit. My right hand was stuck to the glider and I was flying the busy thermal with almost full VG. Not good. It took me about two minutes to untie the knot with my left hand and release my fingers which were pretty sore by then. Won't fly with these gloves again!
A few minutes later I was pretty high for the conditions and the first start gate opened. I decided to start, but only Markus Ebenfelder and I flew away. Two out of 90, I didn't trust it, so I returned to the start gaggle. 8 Minutes later I was pretty high again and I went anyway. That's an 8 minute penalty in time, but hey, it was good to get away and to be in front. I just had to make sure I kept flying and then a lot of people would pass me.
It turned out that I was very fast towards the first turnpoint, where I caught up with Markus. We were both thermalling with about 1 km between us when a group of about 15 vultures shot up beneath and in between us. We both headed for the birds. Their thermal was the best of the day for me and it was impressive to fly really close to them. One was only about 5 meters from me for a while.
I lost a lot of time from the first to the second turnpoint because I went through the valley and was caught by some pilots while I was thermalling up in a crappy thermal at the turnpoint. But from now on, I was no longer alone. A few kms further, the lead gaggle caught us (they started 20 mins after me) and I flew with the top pilots for the first time. I even sacrificed some height just to be able to glide next to Jonny and Gerolf for a while, to see how good my glide is compared to theirs. Not bad actually, I expected more of a difference.
Goal was only 2 thermals away at that point, so I started flying cautiosly because I really wanted to make goal. I took my last thermal only a few kms before goal under a convergence line because we were going to have a headwind from the sea breeze behind the convergence. Gerd Doenhuber flew under me to race towards goal and I had 400m excess height from a 6 km distance, so it really couldn't go wrong anymore. I had Gerd in sight and could race by him due to the height I had. Nice game :-) I lost the lead gaggle by flying slower, but came across the line in 12th position or so. Wow, certainly my best flight ever!
They published the scores for yesterday's task and I'm 22nd with 747 points. New PB. Taking the risk of going early provided me 91 lead points. The guys in 21st and 23rd were a good 10 mins faster. I like lead points :-) I don't know where it takes me in the general classification, but I think I will be in the top 50. Let's hope I can keep flying like this!

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