03 November 2016

Best friends forever!

Since we met in Canungra for the first time many years ago, Tascha and I have been closest friends. We are very different, but also very open and tolerant for each others´ worlds. Together we went flying in many beautiful places on several continents and enjoyed great travels - in Europe, my parents adopted her, while I felt very much adopted by her parents in New Zealand.  I could not imagine a more loyal friend than Tascha - we supported each other through one or the other dark time in our lives, even though we couldn´t possibly live further apart.
Whenever I see a chance on a trip to Australia, I try to stop over in Christchurch for a few days to see her and her beautiful family. This time we got extra lucky - after a long period of rain in New Zealand, we had been surprised with two magnificent flying days!
Tascha took me to the dunes of Brighton Beach and helped me with base barring the Sonic into the air, top landing like a seagull on the small sand hills, and taking off again. Concentration every second of the flight, as the wind was howling with about 40km/h - every mistake would get punished! But we did well, had fun and learnt a lot! Thanks to the Sydney northern beaches guys who had been training me for two years now, I was quite confident and did a long flight up to the pier and back, racing along the dunes close to the ground.
The next day, first I accompanied Tascha to Rangiora airfield where she takes flying lessons on a Jabiru to get her motorized license. After that she took me to Taylor´s take off, setting up the Sonic and her little Litespeed 3 between a cute flock of sheep, just to remind me where I was I guess :) I had not brought any of my flying equipment over, so Tascha happily gave me everything, her harness, helmet and glider to fly!
We met Jean, a paraglider pilot and the Taylor´s site instructor, on take off. The wind was too strong for him to fly, but he seemed delighted to see two girls setting up their hang gliders and getting off into the air in no time! So nice to have some help shifting the gliders around in windy conditions, big thanks to Jean! And this air was silky smooth compared to the rough, bumpy stuff on the dunes that we had been battling the day before.
I kept buzzing around Tish for a while, as the cute Litesport was faster and more movable than her Sonic. After a while we landed at Scarborough park beach, happy and full of joy that we are allowed to just enjoy flying and life together in a happy moment like this!

31 Oktober 2016

Canungra task 6: patience! And awards

Final results here! On the last day of the Canungra Classic, we set up on Tambo. Only Gecko Girl Niki got off the mountain, then the tail wind started. We decided to pack up around 12pm, go over to Beechmont and set up there again.
I was sweating when I was finally ready to start into the task, and didn´t quite make the first start gate at 14.15pm. Base was quite low and I had to drift-glide over the back of Beechmont, which is always a bit scary if your name is not Jonny.
Flying into the Kerry Valley, it was raining on my sail, so I tried to glide out to the foothills of Mt Mahomet. I saw many pilots down on the ground just there, but I found a tiny bit of lift. Couldn´t quite work it, and the wind picked up, so I landed in one paddock with Josh Woods showing me a beautiful wind sock - that way it was easy to pull off a perfect landing!
Back in Canungra, the HQ Hotel was already preparing for our event. A quick download, shower, getting my luggage ready, then over for the awards evening.

Jonny won the comp with Mic Jackson in second and Blenky in third. I won the women´s class with a 16th place overall, and Niki Longshore won sportsclass by a good margin.
Pilots, drivers and families had great dinner together at the Canungra Hotel. After that, Davo, Kenny and Tony G. started the awards ceremony, supported by beautiful Amy Rickertt. 
I left not too soon afterwards, as I was flying out early the next morning. Billy told me we were lucky, as the weather has turned horrible as soon as all the pilots left Canungra.
Can´t wait to get back next year, my favourite competition in the world!!!

28 Oktober 2016

Canungra task 5: cancelled due to storms

We went to Beechmont, set up and hoped for good conditions to fly. Nobody got up for a long time, and the clouds kept building. When we heard thunder for a while and had constant tailwind on take off, the task was cancelled for the day.
We hope for one last task today, possibly from Beechmont again. Jonny´s home site!

27 Oktober 2016

Canungra Task 3 and 4

After a tough day on Wednesday with a really early landing, I tried not to show my disappointment to much and cheer up for the Red Faces night. With Nils Vesk, we have the most creative mind of the whole comp in our team, and he sure invented a cool story for the funny evening of the comp, involving our whole team. Specially Peter Burkitt and me had to be in a lot of scenes, and in the end we won the competition for the funniest act which was rewarded with 500$!
The task setters did a great job on Thursday with a 75km task first to the south, then going north with goal close to Beaudesert. Storms had been in the forecast, and even from take off we could clearly see the overdevelopment in the far south over the ranges.
Base was lower than the previous days, and without clouds it was important to stay with other pilots to find some thermals. Took a lot of patience that flight. I climb quite well, so it was a good day for me to catch up a little. I was stoked to finish 5th of the day, flying a lot with my team mate Rohan. Except for Peter, our whole team made goal! Everybody had a safe task, which was great! Jason Kath won the day, Jonny Durand is still in the overall lead with Blenky close up.

25 Oktober 2016

Canungra task 2: 85km around 2 tp

Results here. With a lower base, a slight head or cross wind and long glides between thermals, it was definitely harder to fly around the 85km. As there were almost no clouds, the big gaggle who took the second start gate caught up with the few guys in the front who had taken the first start.
I was with them until they shook me off between the two turnpoints. Very scenic flying at Mount Maroon though! I just took my time to find a thermal, got up, and was happy when I got to goal at Boonah airstrip. RT and Craig were already there, Nils and Pete landed just after me, so my whole team made goal! Our driver Allan was happy, and so were we :)
24 people made it, and Josh Woods won the day! Jonny is in the overall lead now.

24 Oktober 2016

Canungra task 1: 72km around 1 tp

Finally the weather looked great for our first task! Learning from yesterday, we were set up and ready to go at 10.30am! And what a beautiful day, clouds and all. Task was set to Palen Creek and goal in Rathdowney.
I don´t get to talk a lot to Gecko girl Niki these days, as all the guys want to talk to her and keep her really busy ;) Seems like she got the right tips, as she flew to goal today! Unfortunately a wedge tailed eagle disturbed her at the last turnpoint so she didnt get all the goal points. Still a great effort for her first flight in Canungra, big congratulations!
John Smith (NZ) won the day 5 minutes ahead of Jonny Durand. I came around 18th, not exactly fast, but I was just happy to have the chance to fly such a beautiful wing! Climbing fast was easy, and I managed to stay with Jonny for more than half the course.
Being around 2.10pm at goal seems wrong - I have not flown around the world to land so early on a beautiful day full of thermals and clouds?! Also the wind was very switchy in the goal field and the landings looked dodgy, so I decided to climb up again and fly along the road home. The guys thought who´s that crazy pilot who just keeps flying back? But I had a big smile in my face and enjoyed the day to the max! I decided to land close to Beaudesert because I needed a big supermarket to get some batteries for my spot tracker.
Even without the spot tracker, my team arrived 15 minutes after I landed (around 4 pm) - we have the smartest and coolest of all drivers, Alan is fantastic! My wonderful team mates and Alan helped me packing up the glider, and just when we left, I saw a huge red bellied black snake crawling off the road. I wasn´t fast (or brave) enough to stop our car to get out and take a photo for you - that guy was at least a meter and a half long! The real Aussie experience... and YES they are poisonous.
When I got home, I managed to download my tracklog online into the comp system. You find the preliminary results here!
Hopefully the weather stays this nice for us :)

Canungra Day 2: Wind over the back

The sky was still overcast from the front, but we were positive and wanted to try a task from Tambo. Four guys got off, but only Glen got up and flew around for a while. We got stuck in a tail wind on take off and had to cancel the day.
A few stories from the briefing which is at 8.30 every morning:
Len Paton had survived quite a severe car crash and hopes he can fly despite his ribs still hurting. Glad he is still with us!
Flocky had brought lots of pink ribbons to raise money for the "pink week", the breast cancer foundation. All cars and gliders are decorated now! It´s the time of year when even some houses in Canungra are painted pink! It´s great to be part of it and help a good cause!
A pilot from western Australia owns a seafood company and brought lots of fresh oysters over. The money from the oyster sale will also be donated. He showed us how to open them and explained the different qualities. Nope I didn´t try one, I am vegetarian...
I stayed with my friend Sue up on Tamborine mountain and enjoyed a really spectacular sunset!

22 Oktober 2016

Canungra day 1: cancelled, strong cross wind on Tambo launch

This morning comp organizer Tony Giammichele invited us for 8am to the opening briefing of the Canungra Classic. Headquarter this year is the Canungra Hotel, very central and convenient. Only 40 pilots entered the comp this year, as most of the Kiwis have pulled out last minute. I will miss Jonas, Hagen, Paris and the others! But as a surprise, Len Paton turned up, and many others of the top Australian pilots trying to qualify for the national team!
Dave Gibbs explained that there are quite a lot of airspaces that we can´t use now, and he also handed out a map with no landing areas - more and more land owners have horses and don´t like us land anywhere near them. We will try our best to stay far away from any animals!
Ken Hill quickly set up task, safety and protest committee, and Blenky gave us a weather report which did not look too promising for today. We went up to Tamborine launch anyway, just to find a really strong, unpredictable north component in the wind. I have had plenty of north wind experiences from this site, and they were not pleasant. I had been voted into the safety committee, and together with Mick Jackson and Jason Kath, we recommended to cancel the day.
Only a couple of pilots set up and took off, and watching them I was glad I didn´t have to try. Tomorrow the front is hopefully through and we can fly on Beechmont. From Monday onwards, the forecast looks great for some long days of flying until the end of the week, so stay tuned!

21 Oktober 2016

Repairing rat damage on my harness or How good is tape?

Arriving in Coolangatta, it was a very warm welcome by my friend Sue. She and I waited for Niki Longshore to arrive. In the morning, she had missed the check-in time of her flight (45 minutes before take off) just by two minutes (turning off to the domestic terminal, we got stuck in bad traffic), and Tiger Air just would not let her on. They asked for more money and put her on a flight four hours later.
Sue took us to Canungra, where Niki is staying with Rory and his team, while I´m staying in Glen´s and Nadine´s beautiful 'tree house'.

As a naive European living in a city, I didn´t realize that rats even get into houses in Sydney to find food. When I left my harness with Craig, I had put some dried organic foods into the harness cause I knew I wouldn´t have a car when coming back to go around and find things before heading up for Canungra. Mistake!
The rats ate their way through my harness bag and ate all foods. Thankfully Craig cleaned it up before RT brought my harness over yesterday! Luckily I didn´t leave a fruit bar in any of the harness bags, like Gabor did - they went right through his harness too, Billy repaired it this morning. Funny how we both had the same trouble!!! Now how do you quickly repair a big whole like that? I just say: How good is tape?!! Patched on from both sides, it seems to be quite strong. Hopefully strong enoug before I get to Woody Valley to have my harness checked and the damage repaired.
Today it´s quite a northerly wind in Canungra, and neither Tambo nor Beechmont take off really cater for that direction. I am happy to take a day off to get everything prepared and set up for the start of the Canungra Classic tomorrow!