Monday, July 4, 2011

Croation Nationals, Beautiful Istria

It's about time to write down how it was in Croatia! First of all, Croatia is the first country where I was stopped at a border and told I could not cross it. The GPS sent me over some tiny roads in the middle of the night (and also in the middle of nowhere) and suddenly I saw two headlights coming my way. And they aimed straight for me. I had to stop on the tiny road and it turned out to be a border patrol sending me back. I could not cross the border there at night. And I was only 4 km from the place where I had to be. Raspadalica, above Buzet:

Raspadalica is a very nice take-off, 400 or 500 m above Buzet, with a camping right next to launch. The grass field is covered with a variety of herbs. When you drive your car to the tent, the tires roll over them, resulting in an intense perfume when you exit the car!
The competition tasks were run from Ucka, a 1400 m high mountain on the Adriatic coast. Here you can see that the rigging area was small and we needed to use every inch of it. (Funny how you swap metric systems when you swap languages...)

We had three tasks in total. Primoz won the first and third and was second in the second task. A convincing win for him. For me, the first task started with true racing with Primoz, Balasz and Franc. Somehow I thought I saw a better line leading to the second turnpoint and I went for it. Only to regret that I thought I knew better than Primoz... I got low, spent a lot of time recovering from it and had a slow run into goal then. Still 4th for the task, so it wasn't a bad result.
The landing still had a surprise. The winds were switching when I approached the field and I waited too long with my decision on how to fly the circuit:

The second task started with an interesting launch. We had NE winds above 1500 m and S winds down in the valley, which I didn't realize. I explored the area on my own before the start gate and waited under a very nice cloud. After a while, the cloud got stronger and when I exited the lift, I got into quite severe turbulence. I was scared even with the VG off. So I left that cloud and went for the cloud where all the others were. When I arrived there, 4 minutes before the start gate, I saw that Primoz was still climbing, but very slowly, while all the others were looking for other options. I also started searching for stronger lift and only found sink. So, you fly at cloud base for 45 minutes only to lose 500 m in the last minutes before the start :-( I decided to start anyway, convinced that the ridge to the first turnpoint would work. But that wasn't the case due to the S influx of maritime air into the valley. I was on the ground much sooner than expected. And I could forget about a nice classification in the comp... The 4WD Mitsubishi came in handy during the retrieve:

The third task started with magical flying before the start. A convergence set up north of Ucka and I was flying between the cloud wisps, at 2400 m, with a fantastic view over Istria and the islands in the Adriatic Sea:

The first start gate was at 14h30, which is already very late, but it was a blue day out in the flats, where the task was flown. Being the only one very high at the time of the start, I had 2 options: start and risk it on my own in the blue, or give up my position and wait for the second start, half an hour later. I opted for the first and had a 25 km glide to the ground... Here I fly into the valley where I had my last hope to find a thermal:

It ended with a landing with the drogue chute. I practiced a few a those landings since I haven't been doing them for a long time. I'm always shorter than I expect to be. The drogue chute is working well :-)

I couldn't find the scores online yet, but if I remember well I ended up 12th. Wanted to do a lot better...

1 comment:

  1. Your pictures are amazing! Looks like you had a lot of fun. Istria is fantastic, glad you enjoyed it!