01 April 2017

Aeros Winter Race Slovenia

Results here! I was very happy to start the first competition this European season in Slovenia, with great weather. Despite the name "Aeros Winter Race", it was unusually warm - well, except on 2500m where we unexpectedly got to on the first two days!
The European top pilots from Italy, Austria, Germany, Norway, Slovenia, Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and a lot more countries were here to celebrate the start of the 2017 hang gliding season - and we were rewarded with four consecutive days of amazing flights! We were even two girls in the comp, my friend Julia Burlachenko drove a dedicated 1700km from Kiev to Vipava!
For an entry fee of just 110€, every pilots received a nice comp t-shirt, maps of the area, a free dinner and a lunch pack with a sandwich, an apple/orange and half a litre of water or an isotonic drink every day. For an additional 50 € your drive to take off and your retrieve was organized for the whole comp too! Thanks to the organization and all the volunteers who ran this comp with a lot of experience and motivation.
We used Lijak and Kovk take off in the area of Ajdovscina in the west of Slovenia, about an hour west of Ljubljana. My first flights in the area - I was impressed by the scenic views of the mediterranean sea! The air was unusually clear, and being a southern hemisphere softie, I was glad I brought my Thermo Pads hand warmers to let my fingers survive.
Most pilots have flown here many times and know the special tricks of this area - fly fast and don´t turn!!! I was glad that Matjaz, Jörg, Roland and Tom Weissenberger helped me to decipher this technical area. Still I was very careful, as I could see a lot of vinyards, forests and powerlines in some areas. Some of the headwind legs made me want to weigh more, but I only take ballast once I´ve figured out a place and the possible (safe) landing options, definitely not for the first time in a new area.
Day 1 most people made goal at Lijak after the 61km task - and we were rewarded with a great, vegan cafe at the landing! Best food I have ever found at a goal field - local, organic produce and all vegan, tasty and healthy, for a very reasonable price! Marco Laurenzi won the day with a 46Km/h average. Man, I only made a 33km/h average speed...
On the 2nd day, once I figured out that I can´t continue my flight in a safe way (I got left behind the first two groups, going too slow for their pace), I decided to turn around and land at Lijak as well. "Mischu" Franc Peternel, one of the top Slovenian pilots, won the 122km task.
Day 3, we went to Kovk take off (Jörg went up with us and helped me find it...;)), as the wind turned more west. In fact, it was a really strong west wind, and after heading towards the 2nd turnpoint, I flew against a rubber wall and was drilled down, couldn´t get around the corner like Jörg and the others of my group. Anyway, I tried my best and enjoyed 3 hours of flying and a nice landing anyhow! My dedicated driver David found me in no time, packed my glider and took me back to Pizzeria Anja Headquarter where I downloaded my tracklog. Tom Weissenberger won the 126km task with a respectable 40km/h average speed.
For the last day, the organizers decided to stay in the Vipava area to not make it too hard to get around the mountain against the headwind, which had forced more than half the field down on the third day. A 90 km task with two laps of the same turnpoints - great way to learn how to do it! My second lap was twice as fast as the first one I guess. Almost 40km/h average speed - but nothing compared to day winners Matjaz Klemencic´s 65 Km/h!!! What a way to finish the comp.
Tom started with the 26th place on the first day and won the comp in the end - with Balazs Ujhelyi in 2nd and Franc Peternel in 3rd, and my German team mates Roland Wöhrle on a respectable 4th, Jörg Bajewski on 13th, Kajo Clauss on 29th and Semmo on 30th. I finished 39th - not exactly a top score, but a great training and learning experience in a beautiful area! Yes Matjaz, I will be back in your home yard and play some more in the air!

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