29 Mai 2010

German Open: Natalia 1., Im 2nd overall!

Today the last day of the German Open was cancelled - cloud base is still just a few hundred meters above the ground, the mountains are invisible. The awards are at 11 am, and this means that Natalia Petrova (RUS) won the competition overall, and Im in 2nd and Primoz Gricar (SLO) in 3rd. Also, I am the best German pilot, so I am the German Champion. It has never happened before that a woman won the German Nationals overall, so I wonder what they will do. There is a woman´s class, and an overall class, but I guess they will call the second best German pilot, Konrad Schwab, German Champion, while I will just stay German Championette?
German Champion in Rigid Class is national team member Peter Friedemann, with Ulf Neumann in 2nd and Tim Grabowski in 3rd place, while Toni Raumauf (AUT) was in 3rd of the German Open international scoring.
I never thought this could be ever possible. I had a lot of luck during our short flyable time to have made the right decisions about early take off and early leaving the mountain. Later the weather always deteriorated. Yet there are many local heroes with good knowledge of this area, and also some of our national team pilots. I hope my sponsors are as pleased as me with this surprising result. I guess I was just too happy about every minute of flyable weather after the two weeks of no flying at Tegelberg ;) And after some bad luck in the beginning of the season, now the good luck came back to me at the right time.

28 Mai 2010

German Open Day 3, Task 2: 51 km Flatlands

Today the weather allowed us to fly a small task from Hochries out into the flatlands northwest of Chiemsee and then back down to Marquartstein. I took off early as the forecast of overdevelopment in the mountains always makes me nervous.
When Natalia and Toni Raumauf left, I went with them. Low we found the next lift just north of the Autobahn and slowly went back up to cloudbase. Ahead of us, the ground looked good, plenty of sun around. I lost the others pretty quickly and found my own way around the turnpoint. On the way back, I saw Beni with the Red Bull trike very low flying along our course. Two sailplanes showed me the thermal of the day between Simssee and Chiemsee. It took me up high enough to start the final glide from there, about 15 km out. I was happy to see that the glide got better and better.
When I landed in goal, the teachers from the local hang gliding school came over and said they all had a great day of training today - we landed on their huge, nicely cut landing field at Weßner Hof in Marquartstein today. Toni Raumauf was just leaving when I got there, Ulf Neumann and Peter Friedemann were the other two ridig wing guys who had made it in, and - the only other flex wing pilot I saw was Natalia Petrova! She jumped over and helped me and hugged me, it was incredible for both of us, that we were the only ones who made it into goal today in our class. Here you can check my life tracklog
As soon as todays results are online, you can see the results here.

26 Mai 2010

German Open Day 2: Task 1 - 55 km

Here at Hochries, the organizers are doing a great job to motivate pilots to go up the mountain - there is a great breakfast buffet included in the entry fee at the restaurant on top of the mountain! So every morning, it is fun to see pilots socializing while having a cuppa and muesli. Today did not look too special, and a heavy rain shower at 10.30 am did not rise our expectations for a flying day. Anyway, Dieter and Carsten were positive and asked the pilots to set up the gliders for a task briefing at noon. The miracle happened - the sky opened up and we could fly our first task.
55 km around Hochfelln, then some kms past goal and back to goal. A short distance, as they did not expect really good conditions nor a long day - the rain and storms were forecasted for 5pm and it really started raining at 5. The lift was good and I flew around 40 km before I decided to land as the black clouds seemed to grow very fast out of the mountains south of us towards the course. Turned out that they slightly fell apart again before they really went off. Christian Zehetmayer landed in the same field. Tim Grabowski won the rigid race (there are about 10 pilots), but I don´t know yet who won the flex task.
For tomorrow they expect more rain, but it looks pretty good that we will fly on Friday. It will be interesting to see the scoring, as they set nominal distance to 70 kms - quite high for marginal weather like we experience here.
Currently the weather is very dramatic and romantic, with a huge rainbow around the whole take off mountain of Hochries. I´m pretty impressed with the organizers!

25 Mai 2010

An epic day at Greifenburg and too windy at GO

I needed a nice, long flight, and predictions were great to find that in Greifenburg, so we went there for two days. Sunday was not so special, the sky pretty covered, but Monday was great. I took off at 11.45 and flew 6 hours, up to over 4000m of cloudbase, and to mountains I had never seen before.
In the course of the day the wind had switched to the southwest and got stronger, so landing was a bit tricky. I was happy that I flew until I was too tired to go on. We left for the German Open at Hochries after my landing, and here the sky looks epic, but it is way too windy to fly, gusts of up to 40 km/h in the valley are too much for hang gliders to handle. The local club has put heaps of work into this comp, with a big tent at hq, tonight there will be a meal and music and special local performances. The forecast for tomorrow is not really inspiring, and after that it is mostly rainrainrain - maybe I should go back to work and wait for better weather? I hope we will have more luck in Ager and Monte Cucco later this summer... Poor Masahiro - the Japanese team leader is here to compete at the German Open, so are many guys from Russia, Ukraine and Italy.

23 Mai 2010

Last day: 1 task

How much Murphy can one take? When we woke up on the last day of the competition, the sky was blue. Unfortunately we could not ask for Sunday as well, so we knew we would not get a valid comp in class 1 and 5 - we flew a task anyway, just as a fun competition, and to finish the comp at least with one flight! Natalia won ahead of me and Kathleen Rigg, in rigid class Japanese pilot Itagaki Naoki won ahead of Tim and Norbert.
At least we could officially honour the new and old swift world champion, Manfred Ruhmer, very closely (by 18 points) followed by Steve Cox after two rounds. On 3rd place local hero Bob Baier.
It was a fun evening and we had a lucky draw for the many beautiful prizes of our sponsors. Very early this morning I drove to Greifenburg as I expect a very good xc day here tomorrow and I want to fly as much as possible before the next period of bad weather hits us. Natalia and Yulia want to fly over to Hochries from Tegelberg today, as the German Open starts on Tuesday. Well and the weather again is very doubtful from Wednesday onwards :( I guess at least Ager and Monte Cucco will offer real comp weather...

On the photo, you see Andi Becker from the German rigid wing team in an interview with Bavarian TV. The presenter is a pg pilot which makes the talk really pleasant and easy for us. On 4 consecutive days we had hanggliding interviews on television, first Mike Harker, then me, Andi and on the last day Alex Ploner.

21 Mai 2010

Day 12: Cloud 12

Today we went up and set up in the cloud on Tegelberg, we waited in the cloud, in the rain, the snow started melting. We were hoping for the clouds to lift up high enough so we could take off. The swifts tried a task but had to land again - not enough lift. We kept our spirits high until 5pm, then we officially knew that we could not get a task anymore. Some guys took off into the tiny window between the clouds. At the moment, some of them are still flying around the castle, but cloud base is still below take off. So sad, the forecast looked so promising to start into the first task today!!!
Well, a worlds without flying. At least the swifts have a new and old world champion, Manfred Ruhmer, with STeve Cox in 2nd and Bob Baier in 3rd. And for us, it is all the same - I will be the reigning world champion for the next two years, Alex Ploner will stay the class 5 world champion, and our team will stay the team world champion. Everybody really liked the organization and the program that was set up for the pilots a lot. Up on take off, Charlie Jöst kept us entertained with singing some Italian opera for us.
We will have a free competition tomorrow, as it looks flyable and like the best day of the two weeks, and we will give away all prizes tomorrow as well.
Big party tonight at Tegelberg Bahn.

20 Mai 2010

Day 11: cancelled, too much rain

Today again we have no chance to fly a task - I took my glider up to take off again and found more snow, it must be about half a meter now. More and more pressure if we can fly at least tomorrow or not... We will hope and see.
Tonight between 4.30 and 5.30 pm Andi Becker will be interviewed here life, you can watch it on BR Alpha or on BR around midnight. Yesterday I was interviewed by them and showed the presenter of the show how to hang in the harness and steer the glider. She seems interested to learn how to fly ;)

Day 10: Nearly a task

At least the swifts managed to get in a 90 km task today, so their world championship is valid! Manfred Ruhmer is in 1st place overall now after winning yesterday´s task, followed by Steve Cox and Bob Baier.
Our task was set but cancelled by the safety committee due to the forecast of more rain and wind hitting us too soon, same for the rigid wing class. Our hope is on Friday and Saturday, as there is just rain here today, covered grey skies.

18 Mai 2010

Day 9: Flying in the rain

Today was more unsettled than yesterday, very brief periods of sun changed with blizzard-like snow storms on the mountain. Some very brave pilots went into the air for a short while and tried to avoid the snow and rain showers. I went into the air as well, but together with new presenter Sandra from Bavarian TV and Mike Harker, hang gliding legend.
If we fly a task until Friday, we will also be able to use Saturday as another comp day to validate the worlds! Lets keep our fingers crossed.

17 Mai 2010

Day 8: Flying or no flying?

When we were finally on the mountain, it was quiet, romantic and - white. A lot of snow in the cloud. At least it is nice and clean to set up our gliders on the snow. Meanwhile the officials were preparing the ramps, cleaning ice and snow off. The task was Buching-Falkenstein-Buching-goal. But we were not even quite at the pilots briefing when a black long wall of rain and strong wind moved towards us. The task was cancelled, we packed up our gliders again and could not go down for a while - the wind was too strong for the cable car to run! So we were socializing and waiting. After some rain and snow it is clearing up a little, no sun but at least it stopped raining.
For more photos, have a look at Ashanta´s Blog and Jamie´s Blog

Day 8: Next decision at 12

Oli said yesterday the wind was off from the west, too much from the right, so he decided not to fly in the end. Lots of snow up there.
Today it seems to clear up a little, the sky is still grey and take off in the cloud, but there is some hope so there will be another decision at 12.

16 Mai 2010

Update: Flyable?

We could see the cable car mountain station on Tegelberg for a while now, and Oli went up to see if he could go for a flight. NO sign of a glider in the air yet, I wonder if he had a really short flight that I missed because I was preparing porcini risotto for my parents and friends tonight? Carol, Oli and Luca are coming over to my place, so I will get a full weather report later.
It is nice to see some "lighter" and higher clouds than the last days anyway, my hope is up for tomorrow or Tuesday. It is great to see that we or the organization don´t get any bad words from disappointed pilots - today Benno organized "flying" for everybody in the "glider on the crane" at the Tegelberg base station, so we get back into the air again! Also pilots are getting wings from a lot of Red Bull. The party last night lasted again very long I heard...
Tonight Charlie will show Mike Harker´s movie (and more) at Helmerhof in Horn/Schwangau, starting at 9.30 pm. Will be great to have Mike Harker there to add some points about his flying and the movie - his whole life has been dedicated to freedom, independency and travelling, I am curious to hear more of his experiences. When he was sitting at our table the other night, we were only able to communicate for about half a minute each time between the songs of the bavarian orchestra... ;)

Day 7: Do we need to offer a sacrifice...?

There is a lot of snow on take off now, and it keeps coming further down. I got out my snowboarding pants to stay warm. Who is the culprit? Andi says it is my fault because I didn´t finish my pizza on the day before the comp started... I promise I have finished every single plate that I started this week, and still no sun in sight. But people are thinking about going skiing now, there is still drizzle outside and cloud base nearly touches the ground.
A small window of improvement might open up tomorrow, if the wind doesn´t get too strong too soon. We still remember the warm and sunny days with lots of flowers in the landing field...
At least Benno organized plenty of non-flying activities. Yesterday there was a walk from headquarter to Neuschwanstein castle and a visit of the castle afterwards, and an Italian night with a band. Even Heather jumped up the stage and sang last night, she is a great performer!
The Japanese team is on the way to find a place where it is possible to fly - I wonder how far they have to drive. On the southern side of the alps it looks sunnier, but that is due to quite strong Föhn which comes along with turbulence. But maybe they are lucky, who knows?

15 Mai 2010

Day 6: Guess...

... no change for better weather yet - if you intend to visit us, bring warm clothes, there is snow on take off again ;) and we remember the good times, our training from the opening day of the worlds, with sun and thermals and warmth.
And we welcome Italian world champion Alex Ploner in our team Adidas! He is very happy to have the right gear to tackle the cold and rainy weather now. Currently it still looks like there will be a change on late Sunday, so we might get to fly on Monday or Tuesday.

14 Mai 2010

Day 5: same procedure as yesterday

So what can we do about the weather? We can´t change that Tegelberg has been hiding in the clouds the last couple of days, so we just keep training - walking, running, some people are hiking or biking up the mountain again, I might go swimming later, and this morning we had a yoga session with Ute.
It seems like the weather will change to the better late on Sunday, and we might get to fly from Monday to Friday! As there is sunshine in our minds, it is just a question of time when the clouds will move.

13 Mai 2010

Day 4: More rain, day canned, but Bob wins day 1!

Today no news about the weather - it gets colder and now everybody knows why the fields are so thick and green and why the cows of Allgäu are so incredibly happy and seem to smile all the time. The secret is: loads of rain! No task today, no class is flying, even the trike and the dragonfly are staying on the ground.
The good news: With quite a good amount of leading points Bob Baier won the first day ahead of Manfred and Steve Cox! And the other good news of the day: next week the weather looks very promising for at least 4 to 5 tasks in a row! We can´t wait for that...
Foolow us also on the adidas air team page with, we twitter the most recent developments to that site!

12 Mai 2010

Day 3: rain rain rain - cancelled

At the team meeting last night, Andi, Tim and Norbert told us about their flight yesterday - they all agreed that take off was marginal and they had to wait a long time for 0 wind, most of the time it was about 20 km/h over the back. Once in the air, it was tricky, but flyable.
In the evening, we had some spectacular cb´s around, and now the sky is grey and it hasn´t stopped raining for a while. I contacted Stefan Hoermann who is providing us with detailed weather predictions at Gleitsegelwetter - he sees a small chance of a very brief window for tomorrow and Friday, but in general there is a LOT of rain on the map.
Some pilots are going to the Timezone Outlet in Rosenheim today, as shopping seems to be helping a lot of girls getting over weather depressions. Other are heading for the thermal baths - our meet director Heather warned everybody that people in Germany have mixed saunas and are naked in there ;)
Tonight we will have a DJ and it will be a party night with a prize giving for the winners of yesterday´s swift task.
I will just enjoy the first day of absolute free time in I don´t know how many weeks, answer emails, cook something tasty and healthy - and just relax!

11 Mai 2010

2nd day of the worlds: Foehn, day cancelled for FAI 1 & 5

Today only the swifts flew a task - and Bob Baier came in just seconds after Austrian pilot Manfred Ruhmer, Steve Cox from Switzerland was in 3rd! We were at the glider airfield where the 10 competitors towed up with a trike and a dragonfly.
On Tegelberg take off we had tailwind for most of the day, because the Foehn is blowing in from the south and gives us very turbulent air around the mountains.
Tonight we have a team meeting and I am curious about Bob´s flying experience of today!
Ashanta got some new speedarms today - they are sold at headquarter, we made a new design together with Adidas. Around the upper arms and inside the lower arms there are specific patches to give us a much better grip on the uprights. I asked for this feature as it helps me as a small pilot immensely on take off if I have more control and not slippery fabric. Apart from that, I hope you like the colours and the design - with a hood that can be cut off if you prefer to have them without one. For sale until the end of the world championship here at Tegelberg.

10 Mai 2010

Opening and first day of Adidas HG Worlds

Yesterday we had a great opening ceremony at Tegelberg for the Adidas World Hang Gliding Championship, the large tent was filled with pilots and visitors and locals. Special guest was hang gliding legend Mike Harker who made the first flight ever from Zugspitze. He is in great shape and wonders about another flight from Tegelberg...
We went up the mountain this morning and set up the gliders in drizzle. Yet we were positive that we might get a short window of sun. Our meteorologist Volker Schwanitz expected a short break before more rain moves through. At 1pm the wind switched around and it got unlaunchable, and as a band of rain was approaching us, the day was cancelled. A few gliders flew later in the afternoon and I was happy that Dolores and Ashanta pulled off a really good landing in pouring rain...
Tomorrow it looks like the southerly gets stronger and stops the overdevelopment for a while, so maybe we can fly our first task tomorrow.
Have a look at some great photos from yesterday, taken by Mike Hamel
Sorry that I didnt manage to post my photos here today, but the internet in our flat is very weak, slow and keeps breaking up, I need to go to headquarter tomorrow - or take my computer up the mountain, as we have a pretty good connection up there as well ;)

08 Mai 2010

At Tegelberg

Tomorrow we will have the Opening Ceremony for the Hang Gliding World Championship 2010 at Tegelberg at 5pm. It is a great team, everybody is really motivated to take part in this special time here and Im very happy to be part of such a fantastic crew! Come along if you can, and participate. Everybody got here on time before the next dust volcano cloud starts closing down some airports... ;)
And by the way - no professional models, but real hang glider pilots, all of us.

06 Mai 2010

Wings over Neuschwanstein

Last week I went to Tegelberg for flying and training with my team mates. I was filmed while I was flying around the castle - we had great weather, yes, it is possible! Please have a look at the videoclip Flying over the Castle

04 Mai 2010

Seoul, Timezone: GMT + 9

After some training at Tegelberg and meeting Monique and the best pilot of the Japanese team and her team leader there, I headed off to Greifenburg for staying with the good flyable weather until the very end of this good weather period. On Friday I had to leave as a work flight to Seoul was waiting for me on Saturday. Just a very brief "there and return in 3 days" - I got back very late last night.
Yet it was sunny and warm in Korea, so I took the time to go downtown and check out the inner city pedestrian zone (way too many people there, I tell you...). I was happy to see the nicely decorated adidas flagship store in Seoul - every country seems to have it´s own line of designers, and the different styles are always interesting for me to see. Of course, the whole world shares the excitement about the soccer world championship in South Africa. I so wish that I could work on the flight to Johannesburg that will bring down our soccer team, but it looks like it will be the first official flight of Lufthansa´s new Airbus 380, and I am not working on that plane yet.
Seoul was my last work trip before our big competition, and soon I will move to Tegelberg for the world championship. Can´t wait to meet everybody again!