Friday, October 16, 2015

Bringing a Moyes Matrix Race harness to the DHV meeting

I'm going to spend this weekend at the DHV Hang Gliding Meeting in Southern Bavaria. It will be nice to meet with so many flying friends again :-)

I'll also be bringing an almost brand new Moyes Matrix Race harness, belonging to a friend of mine. He bought the harness and loved every bit of it, but only did 5 flights with it, before he had to give up hang gliding due to an accident. So, now he's selling it.

If anyone between 1m80 and 1m90 is interested in buying a new harness, come and see me, this one is definitely an opportunity!

If you're not able to attend the DHV meeting, but would be interested in the harness, please send me a note on FB. Thanks.

Here you find some pictures to show the immaculate state of the harness:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Epic day at home

Wow, while being in Macedonia for the pre-Euros, there was an epic flying day in the low countries and Northern Germany. Dirk Ripkens and Reinhard Pöppl flew a 350+ km flight from Trier, landing south of Nürnberg. Congratulations to both! Sauber!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Krushevo, pre-Euros, day 4, task win again :-)

Based on the weather predictions, we set a 125 km task in the morning. But on launch, it soon was evident that things looked more complicated, so we decided to enlarge some cylinders and reduce the task to 105 km. And that turned out to be quite a tough cookie! Here's a replay of the task.

For those on the first start gate, we initially had quite fast racing along the ridge. My timing to cross the flats was a bit off. I went for a cloud that started collapsing, so I had to change my plans, go perpendicular to the course and survive on a hill for a while. After climbing out there, I flew into the shaded valley, which luckily had some small cumulus wisps under the cloud cover.

The next thermal was a weak one, but I had to take. After 10 minutes of turning in 0,5 m/s up, Matjaz glided towards me and started turning 500 m before me in a 3 m/s thermal. So close and I had no clue it probably was there all the time...

Meanwhile, Primoz had flown over our heads at cloud base. He was on his way to nice line of clouds from the power plant to our turn point. Flying straight over one of the cooling towers at 2000 m was a cool sight. Strangely, the top edge wasn't nearly a perfect circle, looked like a badly made scale model from up there :-)

While flying to the 2nd turn point along the east side of the valley, the idea was to return north along the same route, to get back into the sun on the east side, before crossing the west to take the last turn point. But, after turning around, that line didn't look very active anymore and it looked like there was some convergence which would allow crossing the valley in the dark shade. That didn't work as well as expected, but it still was an amazing glide and I just managed to get into the sun near the last turn point.

The climb out was slow and didn't take me very high, but it was enough to take the turn point and head back in the valley to take another climb before final glide. And then it became quite a struggle. The next climb was weak and only took me to a 15/1 glide into goal. I attempted it, but after 2 km on 10/1 decided to turn around and try to go further north to find a better climb in the sunny area of the valley. Flying away from goal was such a strange feeling! I had to climb out from pretty low again, but this time, the thermal was better and I could glide into goal from the cloud wisps at 2000 m.

After those detours, I was surprised to find out I was first in goal, especially because Primoz had distinct advantage on me on the second turn point. But, it turns out to be a 1000 point task win :-) Quite proud of that in this field!

The view in the late afternoon sun was just magnificent. This valley is beautiful and I took my time on the final climb to just enjoy the view. I'll definitely come back here. It's beautiful, the people are very friendly and the flying has a lot to offer due to the nice combination of valley and mountain flying.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Krushevo, pre-Euros, day 3, task win :-)

Day 3 started with rain in the morning and almost everyone was already giving up the idea of having a flying day. Briefing was delayed until 11:30 and because the sun started to appear at that time, we went to the Treskavec launch on the west side of the valley. Whilst driving there, the conditions improved dramatically, the question just was when the thermal activity would start and if there would still be enough time for a task.

We set a 75 km task, which was pretty optimistic at the time, because although clouds were abundant on the east side of the valley, there were few in our area and we also didn't have thermal cycles passing by launch. But, we wanted to get everything going as fast as possible, to have a reasonable task window.

The rigids launched first and all thermaled up, be it slowly. So, there was hesitation with the flex to launch, because it was easy to bomb out. I launched quite early behind Primoz, Alex and Anton. The best part of the cycle had just passed and I saw the others climb out while I had a bit of a struggle. In the meantime, the wind sock on launch showed winds from the back and no-one could launch for quite a while. I realized that probably few people were going to be able to take the only start gate in time.

I searched around in the area and very slowly gained height. A few minutes before the start gate, people launched again, straight into a strong thermal. Primoz and Anton were able to take the start gate, while I thermaled up in the 25 pilot gaggle. The majority of the pilots, including me, took the start gate 7 minutes late. For the task, it would have been better if we would have added another start gate.

Anyway, I enjoyed being in the air after dark grey morning skies and we started racing. My glide to the first turnpoint was bad and the clouds in the valley looked nice. I had nothing to lose in the overall standings, since I messed up the first task, so I could take the risk of trying it on my own through the valley. And it worked out super nice with beautiful climbs. The flying was very enjoyable and the late afternoon light was just beautiful. Sasha made some beautiful pictures while flying.

I hadn't seen anybody along the course and flew into goal first. Always nice ;-) The naughty lawyer was there to capture the moment:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Krushevo, pre-Euros, day 2

The weather predictions for day 2 called for weaker conditions and almost no thermal activity in the valley. So we thought a rather short 80 km task would probably be hard enough. The predicted SW winds also meant that we needed to take off rather soon, to avoid being lee side later in the day and not being able to take off. So we ended up with a long launch window.

Turns out that the conditions were quite a bit better than predicted and most pilots immediately went to cloud base after launch. For me, it was quite a struggle and I worked for 1,5 hours to get back up from low. So I was lucky with the late start...

Since I had messed up yesterday's task, there was no point in holding back, so I went for it flat out. And of course, it's not a really good idea to do that right from the start. After 25 km I glided out on a bad line and lost quite a bit of time in a lee side thermal which was completely broken up. After that, it was a low and slow struggle to get through the shaded valley.

Once on the other side of the valley, there was a bit more sun which resulted in a long final glide at 15/1. Well, it was nice flying, but we definitely undercalled the task... which resulted in many happy faces at goal.

You can watch a replay of the task. A bit of a shame that only 15 pilots had activated their phones.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Krushevo, pre-Euros, day 1

Yesterday we set a 124 km task, based on an optimistic weather forecast. Immediately after launching, the conditions were clearly weaker and more turbulent than expected, but I was confident that the conditions would improve rapidly.

Turned out I was wrong. I kept looking for a better thermal which would bring me to cloudbase, but couldn't find one and was scratching rather low the for 1,5 hours, missing the first start and obliged to take the second start low.

My flight didn't last long after that. I landed after a miserable 13 km.

Almost all did far better and 4 pilots made it to goal. Elio won, with Suan in second, followed by an incredibly low final glide by Balasz. Tullio made it to goal as well. Congrutalions! Also a strong performance by Sasha, who missed goal by 4 km.

Balasz his glide was unbelievable. From a few km's out, it was certain he wasn't going to make goal. It looked like he could turn around at any time to land. But he came closer and closer to us, seemingly without losing height and made it in with a few meters to spare.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Record flying in Spain, abort plans?

Now, this sucks. For 2015, I planned to do less competition flying and focus more on pure XC flying, trying to get the max out of a day. And the coming week should have been perfect for that. A week in Southern Spain, based with the Frenchies at Caceres. The idea was to leave for Spain today, but this morning I got a message stating that one of the 2 tow pilots is unable to be there. Looks like I need to look at an alternative.

The Alps look good for Friday and Saturday...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Flying with the Belgians in Annecy

We're having great times right now. Our group, 15 pilots strong, is flying the Annecy area and we're lucky enough to have great flying conditions. The idea is to fly together and do some XC-flying. The area is outright beautiful, with snow capped mountains all around. Yesterday, Kurt and I flew a nice 80 km flight, soaking in the views. Today's idea is to fly to the Aravis range and, if the conditions look good enough, into the Chamonix valley. 2 More days before the bad weather arrives and we'll get out of here...

Crossing the Annecy lake during the first leg of yesterday's flight with Kurt:

And this is on the way back to Annecy:

Everyone is just having good fun. Some are flying cross-country and some beginner pilots are doing local flights. No-one has outlanded yet. Time to push it a bit more and go twice as far ;-)

Friday, March 13, 2015

2015 Worlds: a statistic

Everybody's always asking what the best glider out there is. And there are many factors which play a role in that, such as pure glide performance, handling or just the fun you get when flying it. But, now, after the worlds, we can finally calculate it. Here's a statistic: take the number of gliders flown by manufacturer and the number of gliders they have in the top 20. Divide these numbers and you get a relative score which must be the definitive answer to which glider is the best one ;-)

These are the results:

Wills Wing13

So, if you buy an Icaro and participate in the Worlds, you have a 40% chance to be in the top 20. You know that statistics never lie.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Heading for the Aeros Winter Race

I still have a few holidays which have to be used soon, so the Aeros Winter Race is the perfect solution to that problem :-) Except that my harness and glider aren't back from Australia yet. They are currently in Egypt and should be home in 2 weeks time, just in time for spring in Belgium.

So, I won't be flying this Winter Race on my trustworthy RX, but will be flying my 2012 Combat GT. And Kurt has borrowed me his Skyline harness, so that should work out as well. The glider will be checked by Primoz tomorrow and I'm driving to Nova Gorica immediately after, to meet Matjaz again and we'll do some test flying on Tuesday. The comp starts on Wednesday!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Dreaming of the main Alpine Ridge

While checking out options for the Belgian Nationals (20th - 26th of July), I came across a movie of Anton & Artur, who cross the main ridge by passing by the Grossvenediger. I've seen it before, but hang gliding sure doesn't get much better. Spectacular!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Forbes 2015 Movie

By now, everybody knows that we had the greatest time in Australia. And Gijs captured that feeling in his movie about Forbes 2015:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Forbes 2015 - Final Task

We had a great day out today. A 115 km task was set and the thunderstorms allowed us to complete the task. There was only one big one 30 km N of goal, but we never got into trouble.

I raced for dear life today and overcooked it near the first turnpoint. First there, but low. Spent 15 minutes getting some decent altitude again, and by that time, others had gone past me at altitude. From there, I had a pretty good run into goal, sharing the last thermal with Trent. And since we were ex-aequo in the standings, final glide was going to be the decider for us. I watched Trent's glide and diverted of course line, to get into a 4 m/s thermal 5 km before goal. That decided it for us. Always great to fly with Trent. Good memories of Monte Cucco 2009!

I think I was 4th or 5th into goal and I'm probably going to move up to 4th or 5th overall. A nice result to a very nice comp. 27 hours of airtime (incl. practice day). Not bad! All tasks into goal and a bit slow on task 1 and the first half of the long 255 km task. Forbes delivered!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Quick note on task 4 and 5

Task 4 was a 255 km task to Gunbar (50 km short of Hay). There wasn't much wind and I lost a lot of time being low early in the task. Made it to goal together with 28 others which is definitely a strong performance for the group. Lots of people with personal bests. I was slow though and dropped to 8th overall.

Yesterday's task was a 150 km race to the South, but it was stopped due to thunderstorms. I had been charging out front all the time but slowed down when we got close to the storms, because I wanted to know if the task would be stopped and because I reached a point where I thought I couldn't go any further without safe escape route. Everybody got together in a big gaggle, which is reflected in the scores. Some flew into the dark sky and got some more points. It is my feeling that the race should have been stopped a bit earlier, because the scores would have been consistent with the true racing positions before things got unsafe.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day at the pool

Yesterday we had storms and today would have been flyable, but the paddock was too wet to be able to tow us up. So we spent a nice day at the pool. Tomorrow is expected to be a big day.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Forbes 2015 - Task 3

Task 3 brought us the fastest air I've ever flown. 30-40 km/h winds with 4-5 m/s thermals ensured the 192 km task was undercalled. Johnny made goal in 2,5 hours (75 km/h average), I arrived 5 minutes later in 14th place, resulting in 5th overall.

The faces in goal were all smiles. It had been an intense race. And the ground passed by at 150 km/h on final glide. Not many of us have the chance to ever experience this. This flight alone already made the trip down under worthwhile. Here's Gijs who enjoyed it very much as well :-)

Lots of us were taking pictures of the sky. As Jonny always says it: "How good is Forbes?" Even Gordon was putting up a smile ;-)

The flight had started with a bad surprise for me, though. I must have attached the towing bridle to my harness instead of attaching it to the release (which was still stowed away in the harness pocket from the previous flight). As a result, I was unable to release when Bobby waived me off. After a while, Bobby realised this and pulled in and up to get the line slack, which allowed me to break the weaklink. Always double check...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Forbes 2015 - Task 2

The task committee couldn't have created a better task yesterday. RASP predicted thunderstorms in our area and our task slalomed 50 km through the Cu-Nimbs (thunderstorms clouds) into the most perfect soaring skies for the last 100 km.

The race went very well for me, charging ahead all the time, often seeing Zippy bank it sharply right in the spot where I was gliding to. Zippy is impossible to see on glide, his almost full technora wing disappears in the background of the landscape whenever he's gliding. We sometimes took different lines, but always ended up together. I had a slight advantage heading to our last thermal, but Zippy hit that one better and I had too much confidence that my core was going to get better. Well it didn't and Zippy glided out first and even managed to get a 3 minute advantage into goal. Seems that my line definitely wasn't the best. I left with a conservative 8 to 1 glide but had to fear I wasn't going to make it for a long time. Congrats to Zac!

The goal field was interesting though. Zippy probably stirred up the air and I hit a 3 m/s thermal when crossing the line. I took it for a while because I didn't want to land in that air. Zippy also was indicating that the winds were switching on the ground. Anyway, I should have waited longer, since the air wasn't calm at all when landing and I dropped a wing, which resulted in a hard landing. Luckily my Adidas Evil Eyes survived the intimate contact with the front wire.

Gordon came in 3rd and then there was a 20 minute wait before the first gaggle made it in. 2nd place for the day for me and 3rd overall. I'll try to keep up the good work.

Good performance by Dutch pilot Gijs as well, who's in 11th overall at this time. On the way back from the goal field, we hit a massive gust front. Apparently Sasha had to outrun it when coming to goal and she landed 25 km away.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A quick note on the first task

The first task was 130 km 'hook' task (70 km downwind, 45 cross and 15 upwind). My launch was quite rough, hitting a thermal at 100 m above the ground, which forced me to release from the tug. But it was good enough to thermal up to 2500 m above the paddock.

Quite a few of us took the 2nd start, forming 2 major gaggles. After 60 km, whilst being in the lead, I overcooked it a little and got low. It took me a long while to recover from that because I chose to head upwind, which was over descending terrain. Not an ideal choice, so I lost almost half an hour on the second leg. 19th in the first task. At least I was at goal.

Forbes 2015 about to start

The 2015 Forbes flatlands comp is about to start. We have a 130 km task to start with. Cumi's are predicted, so that should make everybody happy :-)

The last two days we had some good practice flying. The day before yesterday was spent using tuning the glider and yesterday we had a nice practice task. 6 Hours flying in the past two days was the ideal warm up for today.

And before I forget it: Happy New Year from down under!