30 Juli 2017

German Open 2nd task: 116 km to Wellmitz

Results task 2 here! After three days of no taskable air, we finally celebrated blue skies again on Friday with a direct flight to Wellmitz. Getting ready early as I was 6th off in the start row, I had to get out of the harness again, because a cloud cover with some drops of rain pushed through before we could get airborne.
After a pause of one hour, we finally started at around noon to tow. In a wind gusting up to 35 km/h from the west (at least straight along the tow direction), I had a good take off, but a very difficult tow. I was glad when I pinned off and found a little bit of lift. I just wanted to stay in the air as long as possible and not land and tow again!
The other pilots from the top ten joined me soon in a little gaggle, drifting towards the northeast. Roland, Hans, Carolin, Bernd, Yeti, all with me. When we reached cloud base at around 1200m, I decided it´s time to go on course, because I could already see a next cloud cover sqall line moving in from the west. I´m not that fast, and I wanted to stay ahead of that.
When I left on course line, I was surprised to not see anybody coming with me. I turned around a few times but no. We had an elapsed time start, and the guys went back to get a better time.
So I flew on my own, drifting in the strong wind, trying to pick the best cloud line. It worked well until Golssen, about 80km out, where the clouds started to dissipate and a cover moved in. I crossed Schwielochsee and got really low, in front of some major forests. Spreewald, a huge rain forest, is famous for nice tours by boat, and for the Spreewald cucumbers, but not exactly for good thermals...
Just at the edge of a major forest area, I found a light lift at about 200m above ground. Of course, I drifted over the forest quite low. At least still in a light climb! Still I was relieved when I saw that I could make it to another landable field.
At about 25km before goal, two rigids caught up with me. One of them, much higher, flew towards goal. The other one, Carlos Puñet, only stayed slightly above me and was happy that I managed to find quite good lift for us that finally really took us to goal, where Dirk Ripkens was already waiting for us.
My friend Rebi had taken my parents on the long and complicated drive out to goal, always providing actual information from the live tracking of my height and position. I was superhappy to see them arriving only 15 minutes after me at goal!
I had expected the leading gaggle to overtake me and to find a faster, better line, but I guess they had been caught in the shady air behind me. Only one other flex wing pilot, Jonas Willemeit from Berlin, and four rigid pilots made it to goal. Ah yes, Japanese pilot Naoki Itagaki drifted past goal to the south. When he landed, he was very surprised that he found himself in Poland, not in Germany anymore! The friendly Polish people were even more surprised to find a man from Japan landing in their backyard, and they brought him sausage and drinks and celebrated his unexpected visit!
What a great surprise when I found out on the next day that most pilots had made half of the nominal distance, and I got my highest score in a mixed comp ever - 954 points, as the day winner! It also took me up to first place overall!!!

26 Juli 2017

First task: 80km out and return

Results here. After the first day of the German Open was cancelled as the wind gusted up to 45km/h, we managed to use the short window on the second day for an 80km/h out and return to Golssen and back to the airfield.
Flex wings were off first, and when I got into the air as 8th pilot of the field, luckily my favourite tug pilot Harm found me the one thermal that was just strong enough to climb to 800m and stay. With elapsed time as a start, it was possible to wait around.
Half an hour later, some clouds started to form and the thermals got higher and better. As the day was supposed to stop at 4pm already, I decided to start on course. Together with Roland Wöhrle, Lukas Bader, Kajo Clauss, Hans Kiefinger and Detlef Maier as well as Dutch pilots Araldo and Martin I was in good company.
Against a cross headwind with low base and not exactly strong climbs, we were not fast, but at least we were flying. I really enjoyed just being in the air, and I was happy to be able to stay with the guys.
Just before the turnpoint, it looked pretty dark. I saw Lukas and the Dutch guys heading off, but it didn´t look promising. to my left, Roland and Cajo did much better, so I decided to fly a detour. Well worth it - the best climb of the day took me up to 1700m, plenty to go around the turnpoint.
Heading back was much faster. Tailwind and a nice line of clouds looked promising. 45 minutes back, while it took us almost 2 hours to get out to the turnpoint...
At this time, the rigid guys who took off after us had caught up and started overtaking us on final.
Cajo won the day ahead of Hans and "Yeti" Detlef, Roland 4th and I was 5th.
Japanese pilot Shogo Ota won the rigid race.
Two days of solid rain followed, with lots of floods all over central Germany. We went to Lutherstadt Wittenberg and had a look at the church in which Martin Luther was buried. I like the Barlach sculpture, the floating angel, in the church.
Luckily the rain stopped just now, and we might get a really early and short task tomorrow, maybe even on Friday.

23 Juli 2017

German Open Altes Lager, July 23rd-29th

Some impressions from registration and first competion day of German Open at Altes Lager, about an hour south of Berlin. The weather for here and the rest of Europe looks pretty grim for this week, still we are 30 flex wing and 40 rigid wing pilots already. Even some of our Japanese friends made the long way to participate!

Organizer Matthias in connection with task setters and safety pilot set an 80km task to Schwielochsee today, and we set up under overcast skies. In the distance, the sun was visible, so there was hope for the day to improve.
Lukas Bader took a test tow up with some cameras from TV. His tow looked ok, so I got ready, as I was 3rd in line for take off. The sun came out, but also the wind picked up and got really gustay. Lukas´ landing approach did not quite convince me for a safe tow, so I told the launch marshall that I prefer to wait for the conditions to calm down a bit.
After no improvement for about half an hour, the day was cancelled, because most pilots did not conider towing and landing conditions to be safe. Also Lukas had reported really rough, broken lift.
Tomorrow looks better, less windy. After that, at this moment only Saturday looks promising at the moment, but let´s wait and see if the Flaeming area holds some surprises for us! With fronts shooting through so fast, anything can happen really.
By the way, with Katharina Dressel, Caroline Greiser, Mareen Köhler and me in flex class, and Tina Weikard in rigid class, we are five girls this year at the German Open! And hopefully it will be more than just a "German, open your umbrella quickly" competition ;)