Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Task 3 - Decided to land

I've aborted task 3 after 20 minutes in the start cylinder. There are many contributing factors, but the bottom line is that it didn't make sense anymore to me. To be more specific:

  • The terrain is too high to my liking. We land our gliders at 1800 - 2500 m if we are in goal and possibly at 3000 m if we need to land out. Our gliders are not made for those thin air conditions. Many landings will be perfect, but I feel that if I continu to fly here, the chance for an accident is too high.
  • There had been talks about cancelling the results of task 2 after the double goal fiasco. So, what was I doing up there, competing while not being 100% OK with the safety situation and on top of that, the results risk being thrown away? (I fully support the organiser's extended goal cylinder solution, this is the solution which provides the most accurate results for the competition.)
  • I've got Rudy's very severe accident of 3 weeks ago in Belgium in my mind.
  • I'm not in a financial situation where, if I wreck my glider, I can just buy a new one.
  • What actually triggered the landing were two bad turbulences.

So, I'm taking it easy now. I'll just be a tourist for the next few days. And I won't forget the views of the volcano from 4500 m (with the business jet passing by on it's way to Toluca), or the view from straight above the town of Valle de Bravo with it's lake.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Busy days - 2 tasks done

It's busy here in Mexico. We head for launch at 9 AM and yesterday we were back at 8 PM, so it's hard to keep you updated...

But, we had 2 tasks until now. The first was a 108 km out and return task which took us to the foothills of the Nevado de Toluca, which is a huge volcano. We launch at 2400 m, but as the terrain rises towards the volcano, you find yourself flying over 3000 m high landing fields. I really don't want to land there, because the thinner air seriously increases your landing speed. It's hard enough at 2500 m already.

Anyway, the first task started well for me, but the whole middle section was slow. I lost half an hour on Christian, but ended up 7th, which was way better than expected.

Yesterday we had the second task, which took us around the volcano. Cloudbase was at 4400 m and that really gets to me. I actively remind myself to breathe deep and hold my breath for a short while to make sure I get enough oxygen in. It is special flying here.

Sadly, they made a huge mistake with the goal coordinates yesterday. We ended up with 2 goal fields 2,5 km apart: one defined by GPS coordinates and another with a physical line on the ground, Red Bull tents, music and a whole crowd. I made both, but a few only did the physical goal line. I fear there's always going to be somebody unhappy with whatever compromise we could get for the result and that the day will be canned after protests. It's a shame.