Sunday, March 18, 2012

Aeros Winter Race, task 3, 95 km in 1h37m

Today was fast, very fast. And windy.

We had a race along the ridge with 2 excursions across he valley. It all started with going as far against the wind as I could in the start gate. I took it a little further than the leading guys, hoping to have a slight advantage on the start, but although my position was good, it didn't help me. The others had more of a headwind going to the first turnpoint, but got into the dynamic ridge lift sooner. I ended up not far behind Tom and Primoz, in a group with both Christians.

We raced the ridge at 85-90 km/h, slowing down when we hit strong lift, but just skipping all of it. At the first turnpoint, a group of around 50 people was hiking, when we shot over pretty low and turned steep to return. They had an unexpected show I guess.

During the first 40 km, we only needed two thermals, just taking 300 m to jump from one ridge to the other. The rest of it was at high speed. My right hand went numb at a certain point and I knew I still had 5 km a racing to the next thermal. It was pretty tough on the muscles today ;-) I'm happy I did at least some swimming over the winter. Here's the speed distribution:

I'd love to see Primoz's graph, he seemed to be the fastest pilot on the ridge.

While racing, it was nice to compare the glide. My Combat/Tenax 3 combination is gliding just as well as Christian Ciech is doing, so that's pretty good I guess.

When returning from the first valley crossing we were getting low for my comfort and at the same time I spotted an extremely well marked thermal. 200 seagulls (wild guess) were perfectly coring a thermal and shooting up compared to us. The group flew past it, but I thought I could not let that opportunity pass by. I turned in and to my surprise, it was only broken 1 m/s up. I couldn't believe it and tried to find the core with a second 360 (the birds had gone now, probably a bit scared of those 6 or 7 racing gliders). I guess I made a beginner mistake, we were just racing down fast and I misjudged the birds' climb rate.

Those two circles separated me from the group. I continued to race and reached goal 1 minute after the group, 5 minutes after ask winner Tom Weissenberger. Tom had an average speed of 61 km/h. I averaged 57,5 km/h, a new personal best :-)

It was a great day of racing! Some may say it was too easy, but I don't ever think it is easy. As soon as you are competing, it is all about optimizing the conditions and that is a pretty difficult thing to do.

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