31 Oktober 2014

Day 7: 70km around 2 tp, goal Rathdowney

Incredible - we already flew 7 days out of 7, and might get into the air again today! I recall one Canungra comp with as many tasks, but that is a while ago.
The forecast was for northerly winds, with sea breeze kicking in pretty early. We went to Tambo launch and hoped to get off. Turned out that about 12 pilots could not get off because at some stage, the wind kept coming over the back. The lucky other pilots enjoyed Hillview east and Palen Creek as turnpoints again. We flew mainly in the blue, only very occasionally we saw some clouds on course.

I took the 2nd start gate and went along with the lead gaggle ahead of me. Just shortly before the last turnpoint, Adam Stevens, Trent Brown and I chose another tactic and got ahead of some of them. We had a good height at Palen Creek, and the Compeo said 200m above goal, but these number changed dramatically when the northerly suddenly kicked in, and out goal was to our north! We carefully tried to punch our way ahead, hoping that we would make the 2km goal radius. A hill was in my way to dive down to the goal paddock, and I saw Adam landing and then, when I approached, jumping up and down, pointing to the ground. He just showed me where the goal radius was, and I was stoked that I cleared it by about 5 meters and then touched down! That was the closest goal Ive ever made in my whole flying history :) Adam and I are both light pilots, so in these conditions it´s not easy for us to get anywhere.
Jonny Durand, Big Jon and Blinky had smoked ahead of us, with Jonny winning by a good margin, thus taking the overall lead of the competition and Blinky falling back on 2nd place. Jonny didn´t have a good start into this competition, and it´s amazing to see that he was able to catch up in the end - I don´t know how many times he has won his "home comp" before.
At the moment, I see low clouds and quite a strong northerly wind outside, let´s see if we get another task in today.
Big thanks to Zupy for the nice photos!

30 Oktober 2014

Day 6: 90km around 2 tp, goal Boonah airstrip

Just a quick write-up as I need to go to the next briefing soon. We had less wind than the day before, so we went up really early to Beechmont take off, Jonny Durand´s home. It is not much height difference, and in conditions like yesterday, it is easy to bomb out, so I was really happy that I could launch into a nice thermal and get up above the hill straight away.
With some of the best pilots I took the 3rd startgate at 12, coming from a great, strong thermal. It went up to about 2000m yesterday, so it was a mere luxury to sail over the beautiful hills and valleys. The most scenic part was when we glided along Mount Barney - huge cliff faces, lush rain forest, a lake, a huge flock of parrots starting into the air, it was just unreal! But we had to concentrate, the last leg wasn´t easy and grounded quite a few of the top ranking guys.
I was lucky and caught a nice, last thermal that took me safely into goal. Over the airfield of course, like always, it was impossible to get down. I wish I could have sent all that lift to my team mate Rohan, as he had to land only 2km short of goal. Nils luckily made it in. We were about 11 in goal, with Blinky winning the day.

29 Oktober 2014

Day 5: 70km to Lake Moogerah

The weather forecast looked much nicer for today, and it turned out to be a good Beechmont day. Finally we got to fly with a few clouds here and there, some convergence and also "real thermals" - it´s just so pleasant if you can fly a full 360 in climb! All the way up to 2000m, it was such a luxury :)
We first went to Boonah, then to lake Moogerah another 16km west of the first turnpoint. I flew most of the way with my team mate Nils today, and we were happy to join the party at goal. Also RT and Dr Craig arrived, so our driver Alan was quite pleased to see all of us there. The other highlight for me was a flock of about 50 pelicans. I went to take a photo, and they started to swim on the lake in a line that was about 100 m long. Beautiful birds! Lucky that my team is so understanding for their "tourist´s" requests to stop for Australian wildlife.
Trent won the day and moved right up into the top ten. About half of the pilots of the comp made goal, which was in a really scenic place.
On the way home we were re-writing some songs and practicing to perfom them, because in the evening, we had the "Red Faces Night", a fun competition where all the teams invent some acts to embarrass themselves (or others too). After the pilot´s dinner, the show was shorter than normal, as Thursday looks like another really good flying day with a very early start.

28 Oktober 2014

Day 4: 70km around 2 tp

We went to Beechmont launch today, but it turned out to be a very stable day with quite a strong northerly which made the eastern site quite tough to fly. I was not the only one who experienced very strong turbulence in several places.
With only 800m of altitude I was nowhere near high enough to fly over the back and start on course, as there were plenty of non landable valleys with strong winds and turbulence. So I decided to look at the small things that make me happy - flying with my buddies Nils and Tim for a long soaring time for example. Or that great batman cloud above take off! Quite unique, that shape. Or a good landing in the bombout with a bit more than just a cross wind to cope with - plenty of cows and their calves did not take notice of me at all when I was on final... Or even better, hearing that all my team mates managed to land fine, even in dodgy spots.
Highlight of the day for me were the cutest wallabies Ive ever seen. Luckily my team, all Australians, were understanding and stopped for the squeeking tourist in the car ;) 
I really hope we get some fresh air soon, would be great to fly with cumulus clouds at least one of these days.
A few guys made it into the Kerry valley, Jonny said he got to Laravale, the first turnpoint, but noone I heard of got the second or even to goal, so it will be another low scoring day. Some guys even packed up on launch.

27 Oktober 2014

Day 3: 70 km around 1 tp

Another day in paradise. Stinking hot paradise - we had 40C today, and I was melting... is this Forbes or what??? How could I be so stupid and forget me e-cooline gear that has saved me on the hot paddock when we had the worlds?
It was a lot of hang-waiting on launch after the alternate window guys got off. Nils was first in the air, and he soared around, barely 100m above take off, for about two hours before the inversion finally broke and the rest on the hill got moving.
Of course we hit a strong cross-headwind again, like on any other Tambo day. It was going slow and low in the blue again. Only towards the first turnpoint Palen Creek I saw some clouds, but those were too big for my taste, some of them with thunder and lightening, so I decided to land. A little bit of rain cooled me down :)
Guy Hubbard flew furthest and won the day, as nobody made goal in Rathdowney due to the shaded area. Blinky is in first place now, closely followed by Adam Stevens and John Smith (NZ), you find the results here!
Looks like we will go to Beechmont take off for a few days now, as a trough moved through and hopefully brings us fresh, more active air!

26 Oktober 2014

Day 2: 60km around 2 turnpoints

Today we had to go to Beaudesert as the first turnpoint, then Hillview like yesterday, and back up north to Josephville as a goal. We weren´t getting very high again, and the wind seemed even stronger than yesterday. I went around the first turnpoint with Blenky, but then made some silly decisions and landed short of the second turnpoint. I think the heat got me today, it is really warming up over here, and despite wearing a bit hat and long sleeves and drinking enough, I was just exhausted.
I guess there were about 15 people at goal today, so the scores will be much higher than yesterday. Nick Purcell might have won the day, Jonny said. 
Sometimes it´s just great to have a friendly farmer who lets you pack up your glider in the shade of a big tree on their front lawn - thank you so much, Sue!!!
On the way back home, Ive met the cute wallaby again, we already saw him yesterday at the same spot. The grass must be tasty there!
The evenings up here on Tambo offer some spectacular drama skies, with big sunsets while having dinner on the verandah.
Well, six more days to go, if we are lucky with the weather. But also tomorrow it will heat up even more...

25 Oktober 2014

Day 1: 61km around 2 turnpoints

The first day of the Canungra Classic is over. A task southwest to Hillview, then northwest to Rathdowney with goal in Laravale was set. Quite ambitious, looking at the conditions. The NW wind picked up quite a bit, so we had quite a lot of cross, on the last leg even a full headwind.
No clouds for most of the day, with a low thermal height of rarely more than 1200m msl (which of course can be much less over ground), and rough, choppy lift didn´t make it easy. It felt like yoyo most of the day. Getting up in lift, being blown off track, heading back against the wind, getting lower, and the same over and over and over. I was superglad that I could stay with the leading gaggle, my swarm intelligence.
When I was heading out on final, for some moments I was leading ahead of Jonny, but of course he punched faster against the headwind than me. Not enough ballast ;) Still Im stoked to have landed 2nd in goal today, with Blenky and Jonas coming in after Jonny. Only four made it, I rarely ever started a comp up there :) Lucky I was only second, so I don´t have to wear the notorious "Red Shorts" - Im sure Davo found them somewhere and Jonny will have to put them on. The day winners of the past 20 years or so had to wear them ;)))
Very cute and curious cows watched me packing up my glider in the goal field.
The forecast for tomorrow looks pretty similar to today, I just hope that the wind doesn´t pick up more. Quite a few guys didn´t even get out of the start radius. Lisa from NZ flew to the Rathdowney turnpoint in a kingpost glider, she did great!

24 Oktober 2014

Canungra Classic starts today!

I had a wonderful flight yesterday in smooth air, taking off at Tambo launch, boating from cloud to cloud and eventually landing on Flocky´s airfield with most other guys. And yes - the Technora sail works, I must admit ;)
Right after take off, a big wedge tailed eagle joined the thermal I had found and stayed with me for a while, getting closer and closer, waving to me with his majestic, large outer wing feathers. Then I felt at home!
In the evening at registration, I was happy to see the original team - Davo the organizer just got the best people together to make this comp fantastic for both, pilots and their families and friends. Pilot´s dinner was incredible, all home made supertasty salads, and veggie patties or sausage and steak for the meat lovers.
Today we will have to start early, as the seabreeze might stop launching conditions on Tambo again early. I got off at 10.30 yesterday and it was no problem to wait until the inversion breaks. Will be a bit more difficult with 60 comp pilots ;)

22 Oktober 2014

Finally in Canungra!

It´s great to be back in spring time Australia, it´s beautiful up here in Canungra! After Tony helped me to get my harness and other gear into the airport bus in Melbourne (Im not exactly traveling light...), I was surprised to see HUGE lines of people. Most of them were wearing a pass, so I asked if they had been to a meeting. Yep- sure enough, it was the biggest Jehova´s Witnesses convention in Australia ever, with 75.000 people participating. And of course they all were eager and happy to share their experiences and knowledge with me ;)
Soon I boarded the flight up to Queensland which took about two hours. I flew up with Jetstar, the no frills airline of Qantas. You had to pay for every drink or snack on board, but it was a nice Airbus 321 with a very friendly crew.
When my friend Sue picked me up in the airport, I was glad that I was close to arriving. We stopped for some shopping in Nerang on the way where we met Jonny´s sister Gemma with her son Kai, she wasn´t even too surprised to run into me in that supermarket ;) ?! Nice to be back here, and I can´t wait to meet everybody again. This year, Davo is organizing the comp, which means plenty of fun socializing, good food and optimism - "It´s gonna be PUMPIN´!!!!" He is a classic.
While Jonny is testflying his new Technora RX today in a beautiful SE breeze, I will prepare all my gear and try to arrive in this new timezone.
Big thanks to all the people who helped me to get here and be able to fly - Vicki/Moyes, Mario, Tony, Sue, Nils! 

20 Oktober 2014

Finally on the way to Australia!

After the first shock of having been bumped off the flight last night, Im glad I got on 24 hours later just now. Thanks to Captain Mario, I had a fantastic time and learnt a lot within the shortest time about work and life in Doha! I was lucky to have been welcomed by such wonderful Italian hospitality!

19 Oktober 2014

Stranded in Doha

I was bumped off the flight to Melbourne last night because of weight restrictions. Meanwhile Jonny says that flying will be epic today again in Canungra... hope I get on the flight tonight and finally arrive in Australia tomorrow. First I will have a look around Qatar and check out the soccer stadiums to report back to FIFA ;) Nice weather here!

18 Oktober 2014

A wedding and Seattle

Before going on the big trip to Australia, just a few photos of the last 10 days. I had been invited to Jasmine´s and Benjamin´s wedding, which was really fun. In order to have time, I had to do a work flight early the next morning though. And that took me to beautiful Seattle!
It´s simply a myth that it always rains in Seattle ;) This is the second time Ive been there, and again, beautiful blue sky, sunny and pleasant.
First of all, I went to visit Chief Seattle, the wise Native American who the city is named after. His speaches are legendary and worth reading.
At the Burke museum, they have a great collection of local Native American history and art, but also a really groovy cafe. It´s on university premises, so you meet a lot of studends there.
On the flight out, we paid tribute to beautiful Mt Rainier (I still can´t pronounce that one right, sorry Belinda!), saw the city and Puget Sound from high  above - and just enjoyed awsome mountain views!
More once Im in Down Under, where Jonny Durand is already out in record flight mode :)))

05 Oktober 2014

Rio Cidade Maravilhosa

It´s always great to be in Rio, I love those lazy, large vultures called "Urubus" who always soar around in front of my hotel window. This guy landed on a roof next to my room, and we had a great little chat :)
I took my colleague Volker to see the take off at São Conrado, next time he might bring his paraglider.
Also I visited the jewelry factory of H.Stern and tried on some exquisit necklaces. As long as I have to pay for my gliders though, I think I can´t afford these, but I liked the colour of this blue topaz very much.
On the way back, we saw a funny umbrella sculpture along the beachfront. After the soccer worldcup, prices went up in the city, but it is still priceless to have a chilled coconut water on the beach :)