26 Januar 2010

Australia Day

At 9 this morning, the flying girls met for breakfast at Brighton le Sands. It was great to have some time with Jorj, Kathryn and Jamie, I wish we could do that more often. That´s one good thing about the competitions- you get to spend some time in the same place, no matter which continent you call home!
After breakfast, Jamie and I had the silly idea to drive over to Bronte Beach to see Jonny and the guys at Bill´s place. Not good thinking, as it was Australia day, and Sydneysiders had congregated numerously at Bronte. We had to walk about 1,5 km from where we found the last half-legal place to park. I took the picture for you, it reminded me strongly of Rimini at peak season... Too much for me, so I left the city and started driving up to Newcastle to meet Adam Parer. He has survived a severe accident and is recovering really fast. He looks very fit and healthy now, and when he described his injuries to me, it seems like a miracle that he is already up and running - and soon he will be back in the air again;) Well, I guess with Dr. Conrad Loten being Adam´s doctor he was just as lucky as I was with Dr. Schroeter and Dr. Obersteiner.
Time to leave today. I hope I get to meet the whole Moyes clan and the guys at the factory to say good-bye. And then the hardest part of my trip - back to winter...

25 Januar 2010


Back in Sydney, I was welcomed again in Vicki´s and Greg´s house in Coogee where I had stayed for quite some time while I was working for Moyes. It has always been a great privilege for me to have been able to live in what is for me the nicest city in the world, and to have been welcomed with open arms by the unique Moyes hospitality.
Great weather, close flying sites, crazy birds, funny traffic lights that sound like crazy birds, interesting festivals (right now it´s Sydney Festival again), beautiful city beaches and a bunch of really relaxed, cool people. And yes, again I feel very much at home.
Im looking forward to meeting up for a brunch with the flying girls tomorrow morning, somewhere between here and Stanwell. The only downside is that I have to leave too soon. And that I won´t have time to meet my friends in New Zealand this time.

24 Januar 2010

Back in Sydney

I just arrived fine in Sydney after a pleasant drive up from Mt Beauty with Davis and Belinda. It was great to meet up with Curt at Stanwell - they were flying in a beautiful smooth breeze today - and a wonderful surprise to meet "DJ Rudy" Gotez from Mexico, he is working with Curt, doing tandems and instructions, one of the best Mexican pilots and a good friend.
On the pictures you see a dead brown snake - there were quite a lot of snakes around this year, then our group from the trip to Mount Buffalo in a howling 100 km/h up there, and the award ceremony, the top 10 of A-grade, B-grade and the top 3 women.

23 Januar 2010

Bogong Cup last day: 113 km around 3 turnpoints

Finally another task, and quite a big and demanding one too. Most of the day we flew with blue skies, up to Gundowring, over to clear spot at Mystic launch, then up north again to Dederang and to the airstrip. I was in the air for 4,5 hrs and had a lot of fun racing along with Olli most of the day. Late about 10 pilots made goal, Rohan Holtkamp won the day, overall winner is Jonny Durand, B-grade won Glen "Junior" McFarlane (Glen McLeods younger lookalike).
I came in 6th of the day and was first German pilot in goal, followed by Oli, Hans and Lukas. Christa managed to fly to Bright, also a very big flight for her. In the women´s ranking, she was in 3rd place, Yulia from Russia 2nd (10 overall) and I won 1st place (7th overall). Quite a good result, but then many of the guns had already left the comp as they didnt think we would get another task.
More details and pics tomorrow.

22 Januar 2010

Bogong Cup Day 6: cancelled by pilots!

The forecast was for strong winds at our flying levels again, so we postpones briefing to noon. Nevertheless, Davis decided to send us up to Emu. When we arrived, the upper level winds hadn´t started mixing in, so most of us started settung up our gliders.
The wind on take off was off to the right, a slight nw direction mixing in, showing a rotor in our little gap between the gum trees. Rohan wanted to set another task to Khancoban, while Lukas didnt regard these conditions as taskable at all. While the task briefing was hald, strong gusts moved through and the first dust devils started. Im on the safety committee, so I let the other members and Davis know that I regard the conditions as unsafe to fly because the wind was not straight in on take off, there was strong wind and strong turbulence in the air (as reported by Oli from the sail plane and Cameron our wind tech, also we saw lenticular clouds again), and it didn´t look like it would calm down too soon.
No words about cancellation were heard, but when Lukas started packing up his glider, it was a clear sign for other pilots. Jonny hadn´t even started setting up his glider then. Most of us just packed up even before Davis called the day. Pilots sometimes make sensible decisions!

20 Januar 2010

Bogong Cup Day 5: Lenticular clouds

After yesterday´s flight in quite strong wind conditions, the forecast for today was not too promising and very early we could see lenticular development. Strong high level winds of 50 knots might sooner or later mix into the lower layers. Briefing was postponed to see if the winds were easing off, but as they kept being stronger than yesterday, Davis made a safety decision and cancelled the day, we didnt even go up to Emu. I was very glad about that and I had voted not to go up in the safety committee, as flying in the alps at high winds is not desirable.
Quite a few pilots are packing up their gear, as we might not be able to fly for the next couple of days, and there are many other things to see and do in Australia than hangwaiting. Actually my neighbours are about to leave - we made up the Viking team, you qualify if you have red hair ;) it is Zippy Zac Majors (US), Shedsy (Dave Shields GB) and me.
And yesterday´s task winners, team Red Bull!

19 Januar 2010

Bogong Cup Task 1: 99 km around 3 tp

Today we finally had flyable weather. As cloudbase was low and the wind still quite strong from westerly directions, the task committee set a 78 km task around 3 turnpoints in the Kiewa Valley.
After a good take off, I was lucky to be nice and high at the last start gate. The air was rough and bumpy, but with my little full carbon Litespeed, I felt safe and had fun climbing out with Jonny Durand. He left me just before the first turnpoint at Gundowring, as I had decided to fly a bit more conservative and stay high. Up high, I faced sometimes nearly 30 km/h headwind, so I had to fly a bit lower to move.
Carol drove our car down, and I teamed up with Oli and Tony Lowrey (on the photo) to go to launch and with Ashanta, Fredy and Thomas for retrieve. Luckily our whole team was in goal today! I had a good landing at Mt Beauty airstrip, but I was a little exhausted. Hadewych came over and helped me carry my glider and harness to the packup area- she is a fantastic friend and could tell that Im really tired! So nice when people care ;)
If the wind speed drops as predicted, we might be in for a really long and scenic flight for tomorrow, with a higher cloud base than today. Up on Emu take off it was freezing cold today and I was even wearing thermal underwear trousers and shirts! So lucky I brought them, that way I wasnt cold in the air.

Bogong Cup Day 4: Mt Emu

So finally we get started, after another rest day yesterday with strong wind and a lot of rain. There is still a bit of wind around, so we might fly a one way task from Mt Emu to Khancoban, which would be quite a long retrieve, so we will be back late tonight.

17 Januar 2010

Bogong Cup Day 2: cancelled

While it was too windy in the mountains yesterday, we experienced a really strong wind of over 50 km/h in the flatlands today. Comp organizer Phil Schroeder and Meteo-support Oli Barthelmes were right with their prediction, sooner or later the flatland wind would turn into our valley and make it difficult to find taskable air. Im glad that they cancelled the day, as it is howling outside at the moment. The clouds broke up, but the wind kicked right in.
Tonight Phil set up a movie night and Jonny Durand is going to show his morning glory movie, that will be a nice treat for us.

16 Januar 2010

Bogong Cup Day 1: cancelled, too windy

On the photo with Oli, you see Jonny Durand who just won the Forbes competition.
We had the initial briefing yesterday at Mt Beauty holiday centre. As the winds were quite strong from the north, we postponed briefing to 11. Then the day was cancelled, as the wind was still too strong to set a flyable task. Usually this weather means strong turbulence and broken lift, so I was happy with the decision.
The wind speed dropped down and Davis was positive yesterday that we will fly today, probably from Emu take off (on the photo), but at the moment we have quite a lot of clouds around. They can dissolve quickly as we saw yesterday, so at this stage it is difficult to predict the day. The forecast was for a coldfront moving through tonight, bringing snow (!) to the high mountains. I know it sounds ridiculous looking at the masses of snow and temperatures at home in Europe - but hey, it can get cold in the Australian Alps as well. Lucky that I am equipped for any kind of temperatures with my Adidas and Icebreaker gear!

15 Januar 2010

Training Day: Mystic

Yesterday we had northerly winds, so Tony and I drove over to Bright, and Oli took us up to Mystic launch. Toni´s glider had been ripped apart by a dust devil in Forbes, so he had to testfly his new sail just like I had to try the Litespeed 3.5 s Moyes sent me for the comp.
We were ready early, I had a little Red Bull shot - such useful small things! - and launched at midday.
I was lucky - a thermal took me right up to cloudbase. Up there the wind was 20 km/h north and I could even soar up the cloud a little and see my own little rainbow with the shadow of my glider on it. Beautiful! This little Litespeed, a full carbon version, is as sweet as ever ;) just what you need after winter break.
I flew around the area for about 3 hours, over into the Kiewa Valley, had a look at Emu launch, and then decided to land at Mt Beauty airstrip. And again I was lucky, just a nice northerly breeze made my landing supersmooth and elegant. Tony was already there and very pleased to see it. Later on, the winds started switching around and we heard a few quite rough landings.
In the evening, organizer Phil Schroeder held the opening briefing of the Bogong Cup. No shirts this year, but the famous Durand Tea Cups for everybody! What a treat, they are my favourite!
I also met Heather over there and talked about the Worlds organization - she is so motivated as well, it will be a great competition in May!
The weather for the first days of the comp looks a bit iffy, but we will make the best out of it. Gundowring launch has been re-opened - Mel Gibson has sold his property - so now we can fly in strong northwesterly winds again. And if there is no flying, it´s plenty to catch up with a lot of friends over here. It´s great to see them again. Christa and Jamie are here as well, Hadewych, Birgit, Zhenya, Julia and Virpi from Finland, we have never been so many girls in a comp for a while, it is great!

11 Januar 2010

No place like cloudbase - Mt Beauty Timezone UTC +11

Oli took me up in the sailplane yesterday, winching up at Mt Beauty airstrip. It looked stable when we took off, but Oli managed to stay in the air, we eventually broke through 3 inversions and found cloudbase at 4000m. A great reward for the suffering in 42 C on the ground.
The 4 hour "walk" took us all the way to Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Feathertop. The first time I saw that part of the Victorian Alps. Very scenic. And it was fun working together with Oli to find the fastest thermals and the best line to get there.
We met Craig in the air (can you find the tiny spec on the Feathertop photo?), he used to fly pg comps, and also Heather and Mart were at the airfield. Heather already soloed as well, seems like the club is taken over by hangglider and paraglider pilots ;)
The paraglider pilots who flew at Mystic yesterday reported that it was their worst flight ever, with a lot of turbulence - even in the sailplane we had zero gravity once, but it is still very comfortable in turbulence compared to the "biting base bar" of a hangglider.
Very good training for the Bogong Cup, and I hope Heather forgives me that we went flying cross country, as she had wanted to go up for a short flight as well. After two hours of hard work at Mount Bogong, it was just too tempting to try and reach the clouds further south...and I didnt have to beg Oli for too long to fly into the mountains that I had never seen before;) a great adventure.

09 Januar 2010

Down under, Timezone UTC + 11

I finally managed to escape the tons of snow and arrived in Bright after a smooth long flight to Melbourne. Even better - also my luggage arrived! It´s a bit of a temperature change, when I left Munich we had - 15 C, now in Bright we get a few really hot days with more than 40 C! As it is in the mountains, it cools down nicely during the night, but during the day it is full on summer.
Oli flew to Corryong two days ago and just flew back yesterday to Mt Beauty airstrip - a great effort, since he was facing a 20 km/h headwind. It´s great to see Carol´s and Oli´s son Luca running around - he is learning new words every day, so it´s time to teach him some German as well ;) And by the way, yes, the old wagon still exists!
My glider will arrive from Forbes, they have another 3 days to fly up there. No rest day yet, no mercy. When it is more than 40 C down here in the mountains, they will face something close to 50 C up there at Forbes, out in the flats. The best (and only) place on those days is - cloudbase! Australian vice-world champion Jonny Durand is leading the Forbes competition at the moment, followed by Hungarian Attila Bertok. Lukas Bader is the top German pilot, currently in the top ten as well.
I will post photos once I settled in and set up everything.