28 April 2019

Last task: 101km assigned area task!

I was happy to see that we finally got to do a task that the sailplane pilots have done for a while - assigned area tasks! This is a type of task with a huge radius that leaves possibilities into all directions open, so the flight course is not a given, and the pilots have to be more creative.
With a turnpoint of 400m at "center", we were sent out to a 15km radius around "center" as exit, then back again for a 400m radius.
Conditions were blue today, and top of lift at 1300m most of the day, only later it got us higher a few times. We had about 20km/h ESE wind, so for me, it was quite a challenge to fight a headwind on the last two legs. Thankfully my timing today was good and I managed to stay with top guys like Jonny and Zippy for most of the course. Ok, Jonny beat me by 4 minutes into goal, but he totally deserves the day win, going out and finding thermals for the rest of us all day! I managed to outclimb the whole pack in most thermals on my little RX 3Pro today (my wing load is way smaller than theirs), but on glide, I usually have no chance and fall back. It was great to see that I could arrive quite high at the next climb that the guys found. It hurts that I can´t help them finding it and just "pimp" off them, but at least I can help them to find the best climb in the lift that they found!
On the last 8km to goal, we must have hit a convergence. I simply could not pull the height gain away and arrived an embarrassing 500m over goal, which I didn´t manage to loose for another 40 minutes. Thankfully our goal radius time counts, not our landing time!
Jonny Durand won the day ahead of Zac Majors and Pedro Garcia. I came in 8th and got a personal record of 945 points in an open international competition! So happy! Nene Rotor won the overall competition, with Pedro in 2nd and Zac in 3rd. I was stoked to finish 12th overall despite having had one complete zero day because I had to go to a clinic to look after that spider bite on my back that totally wiped me out. I still didn´t feel like 100% up to the very end of the comp, but I can´t complain about the result!
Quest and Wilotree park showed how prepared they are for next years World Championships in Class 1 female, Class 2, Class 5 and Sports Class. Big big thanks to Patrick for having brought me over to these amazing, exhausting, but most of all fun competitions - best training for the women´s worlds ever! Also big big hail to all the amazing tug pilots who dropped us in perfect thermals, specially to Bobby and Rhett, to our volunteers who worked in the stinking hot field the whole day, pulling trolleys around and us up to launch, making sure that everything works right, thanks to the launch and safety directors, as well as to our nurse on site. Great thanks to the new owners of Wilotree Park - you are doing a great job renovating the whole place to cater for us pilots, we really appreciate all your hard work! And last, but not least, to the organizers/directors Belinda and Davis - you guys are amazing, you really rock the hang gliding world!

26 April 2019

Day 6: cancelled for strong westwind and storms

Results here
DHV report in German
Zac Majors won task 5, speeding like a maniac around the course, almost an hour faster than me!
We had some rain this morning, and a lot of westwind with strong gusts, low cloudbase. I don´t think that people will complain about a rest day before we fly another day tomorrow.
When I heard a scream in our house earlier, I thought that Majo had found another spider. She had come in from the lake and had seen a snake slithering into the water and swimming away, which totally freaked her out! There are lots of interesting animals around in Florida... and the Florida possums are nowhere near as cute as the Aussie ones, but they were too fast for me to take a photo, so all I can give you is another shot of the  cute ducks at Quest, which are growing up fast. I guess when they are ready, Bobby will take them up for a spin!

Day 5: 91,5 km around 4 TP

A nice article today in the Orlando Sentinel!
Thanks to Patrick, Sergey, Kevin, Nadja, Majo and Zippy, I managed to fly another day despite not being back to 100% yet. All I had been able to eat for 3 days was some watermelon and a sandwich basically, because the side effect of my infection medication kicked in with serious nausea. Big thanks to Heather for her Lemon-lime potion, which calmed my guts down a bit. Plus I drank liquid energy in form of half a Red Bull at briefing every day. Incredible that I felt ok as soon as I was in the air, and managed to do three flights in a row of over 100km and more than 4 hours of duration!
Also on our square task to the north and west, I let the glider do its own thing as much as I could, just to save energy. I helped the RX pro a little here and there to find the core, and then let it wind up to the clouds. Base was higher than on most days, and at 1700m, I felt comfortable. Flying a lot with Jonny and Wolfi, it´s always good to improve my speed. Our little gaggle got low here and there, so we had to slow down. We had missed the really good street that had formed out to the last turnpoint (the one with the straight headwind into our face! Tough one), cause we got low at the 3rd turnpoint and had to wait, so there was no way we could catch up to the lead gaggle.
I was happy when Davis, Phil and Philippe Michaud led out after the last turnpoint, cause I didnt have the energy to go fast and low. They found some lift about 15km out from goal, and we topped up a bit.
Another thermal later, I was on glide to goal in a nice tailwind and came in 8th of the day! So far I made goal every day I flew, I´m so happy! And lucky that I have such great support here! Without all these guys, I would have been grounded for days.

Day 4: Protest went through, day got invalidated.

Some pilots handed in a formal protest about task 4. A change of the task had not been announced at the take off site, nor was there a whiteboard with the new turnpoint for the pilots visible. Thus the organizers enlarged the radius of the disputed turnpoint after the task had been flown, to include Kevin Dutt and Bruce Barmakian, the pilots who had not got the turnpoint, into the goal scoring.
The last turnpoint was in a difficult spot where a few of us spent quite a bit of time getting up again, or even landing out in that area. As there was no fair way for pilots to find a different way to score the day, they invalidated the task. This will give quite a bit of a shake through the ranking. Jonny won the day, it will hurt his ranking most of all I think.
It´s good to find a fair and straightforward solution, but it hurts to fly for 5 hours around over 100km and not earn a single point with it...

25 April 2019

Day 4: 109km around the green swamp

DHV Report in German
Results here
Just a short update, as the day was long and exhausting. We flew around the great swamp, about 20 in goal, Jonny Durand won the day, I got into goal last. I was the champion of finding sink today - if you wanted the best sinklines, just come to me! Sink as bad as 7m/s!!! In Florida? Quite turbulent, weird thermals. Very strange to fly. 
I hope our next task will find better weather!

24 April 2019

Task 3: 88,5km around 4 TP

DHV Report in German
Feeling a lot better today, I went to Quest airfield without really knowing if I would take off or not - I was going to see how I felt when launch was open. Seemed like there were more important things to solve first! While Davis recommended to stage in the Northwest for towing, more and more top pilots came to me, telling me they don´t want to tow from that place, as it doesn´t fit the prevailing wind direction.
So we made a safety decision together with safety director Jeremy and took all the gliders down the field to the west-east runway and delayed all times by 15 minutes. Looks like it was a good decision, the winds kept blowing from ENE.
The doctors said I should stay in the shade, so I decided to keep my sail above me all day. Bobby pulled up for a tow, so I said "go, go, go!" It wasn´t easy staying up today, many pilots landed and reflew. But I got lucky and found lift with a top gaggle, including half the US national team pilots, the
Rotor family and Jonny Durand.
I didn´t have enough energy yet to actively force my wing to any move, so I just let it fly. And my little Moyes RX Pro did awesome! It climbed like a feather, and even on glide I wasn´t falling too far behind, often arriving higher than the guys who showed me the next thermal (big big thanks to you guys, I´m aware that I totally pimped off you, especially of Jonny today, but I just lacked energy and put my glider on auto mode "follow your big brother"!
About 5km before goal, I got really low and thought I´d deck it, but a lucky bird showed me enough lift to let me get into goal and pull off a nice landing! I was mega exhausted, but happy! Man, this wing is something, if a person running on 80% like me today can make it to goal in it! Thanks, Vicki, Rob and Jonny!!!
Not many in goal today, so I could move up 10 places from my 30th rank, while Patrick stayed in 10 overall and Kevin still leads the comp. Kevin and Patrick had to land and refly again, but they were only allowed to launch after sports class had gone, so they were delayed by a whole lot. Still Kevin raced around the course in a remarkable time - he´s on fire!

Monday Task: Find medical help!!!

After a sleepless night with shivers and fever and pain everywhere in my body, I thought one of these mosquitos here gave me Dengue, Chicungunya or Malaria... until I saw what was extremely hurting on my back. I went to briefing with the guys and slowly set my gear up, but was really dizzy. When I showed Raul Guerra my back, he immediately said it looks like spider bites. Looking up the physical effects these bites can have, and the shape of the two hurting spots on my back, it made sense. A few other guys who had seen spider bites looked at it and told me it´s better to take care of it straight away.
So while the others started into their daily task, Sergey took me to a clinic. And another one, cause 5 hrs waiting time were unacceptable! The next clinic sent me to hospital where I cued up for the emergency room. Hours later I finally walked out with a prescription of antibiotics and antiviral pills, cause the doctors couldn´t make up their mind what exactly it was. I might get a result in two days.
Sergey dropped me home and I went straight to sleep, sweating the whole thing out. Meanwhile, our team did excellent - Kevin won the day and moved into 1st place overall, Patrick came 13th into goal and moved up to 10th overall! On a really difficult and blue day, it took them 5 hours to fly around 105 km!
I was sad that I now dropped down to 30th place, but of course health is more important. Just that I felt worse than on the airfield after my 5 hour adventure with American health service. Even in the pharmacy I had to wait more than 30 minutes until they had my medication "ready for pickup"??!!
Anyway, I could sleep well at night, and felt a lot better this morning.

Next one: Quest Nationals

On Easter Sunday, we started into a new week of hanggliding competition here at Quest. Quite a few pilots left to go to the Spring meeting in Italy, but a lot of great US pilots joined us for the second week.
We were going to fly 100km around 2 turnpoints with goal at the Wales Airstrip. A blue day with good climbs up to 1700m - it was fast racing with the gaggle, we must have been about 20 pilots or more! After we flew past the Fantasy of Flight turnpoint and enjoyed a thermal that came right off the Lufthansa Superconstellation parked in front of it, we hit some lake area with difficult landing places and tricky lift, so we slowed down.
Some guys flew out, but they were hit by the headwind towards goal and had to thermal up again, while this time my fear of not having enough height to get to goal worked out, and I had a comfortable glide with a beautiful landing! 926 points in the open class were my reward, a great start into this comp!
John Simon won the day, just ahead of my teammate Kevin Dutt, Pedro came in 3rd and Zippy 4th.
I was really happy, cooking dinner for our whole team, Patrick, Zac, Majo, Kevin, Sergey and Nadja! We finished a great day, watching Game of Thrones together.
Little did I know how sick I would get the following night!


Results overall
Sorry for being late with the awards, but they happened at 23.00 at night, and we started flying a new competition the next day, so it was kind of a rush!
The owners of Wilotree Park organized a great Hawaiian Luau party and dinner for all the pilots, drivers and family. A cold front had just gone through, so many of us were shivering in less than 10 C ... but dancing the Hula helps a lot - amazing that the dancers didnt completely froze in their hula skirts!
It felt great to present our Australian manufacturer Moyes with 1st places in all three different classes of the comp, even though we were a minority in Wills Wing country :)
Big congrats to Jonny Durand for taking the win in open class  - he flew like a genius, leading out bravely, finding the next lift for the rest of the pack! And congrats to Erik Graboski, who wouldn´t have had to fly on the last day to still win the sports class comp, as he had so many points on the 2nd pilot!
Davis got some really nice prizes - I got a nice box and playing cards with the Wilotree logo on it, and a very useful purse made from sail cloth! And from Moyes, a golden bird t-shirt!

19 April 2019

It´s a long way to Georgia!

Task 4: 245km around 3 tp northeast to Hillard/Georgia
DHV report in German

After Suan got a T-shirt as a prize for his amazing lonesome flight to goal and daywin on task 3, the pilots gasped even more when task 4 was announced: a 245km flight to Georgia! Three and a half hours drive for the retrievers, and maybe an even longer flight. Elapsed time again, cause the southerly wind was gusting up to 30km/h, and it would have been too difficult to wait in a start circle.
An exciting day for many pilots - first we had to take a rodeo ride up into the sky, as the towing in these conditions gets really adventurous. Then we had to find lift strong enough to get us up and out, or to land and tow up again, cause in this strong wind, there was no going back once you drifted away!
I got on course really late, cause it took me 3 tows before Bobby finally dropped me into a nice thermal. Thankfully I was with 4 other pilots, so we could fly together.
We had been hoping for cloud streets, but they actually were quite far apart, and as a result of the strong wind, not really long lasting clouds. Timing was everything!
After about half way down the course, I landed, exhausted after a stressful day, in a field next to a main road, an easy retrieve. What an accomplishment that Rudy Gotes made goal, ahead of Kevin Carter! They started about an hour before I did.
Jonny Durand was about 20km short of goal and went up to 1st in the overall ranking with his great flying!
In sports class, Erik Grabowski took another day win, he and Rod Regler were the only pilots who made the 149km course.
Today was cancelled early due to really strong southerly winds, gusting up to 70km/h, and a forecast for a storm front that went the whole state of Florida. At 2pm, it started raining hard and we saw some lightenings, but the front seems to be through already. On it´s backside, the forecast expects a strong westerly breeze, we will see tomorrow morning if it makes sense to fly another day of the pre-worlds.
The forecast for our competition of the 2nd week of the Quest nationals is sensational, it looks as if we might be flying every day!!! There are still spots open for the second week, so if you have time, come over tomorrow and fly with us in beautiful, warm Florida, chasing the gators!

18 April 2019

Task 3: 109km around 2 tp

A long retrieve from goal, but I was so happy to have completed the task yesterday, together with another 31 pilots. It was so nice to fly with clouds, decent working height and crosstailwind instead of headwind!
In a tailwind, we lighter pilots have a much better chance to stay with the top guys, and the gaggle I was with only shook me off just before goal, when I got down to 150m and almost landed.
Suan won the day, Zac still leading, but Jonny sneaking up. Sorry for short report, but we have an early start today. More tomorrow, as it looks like some bad weather moves in.

17 April 2019

Task 2: 90km around 3 Tp, goal Quest

Another long flying day, another 4 hours in the blue air! Base was a little higher than the day before, but we had to stay with gaggles to move as fast as we could. I made a couple of mistakes and almost landed twice, so I was too late before seabreeze killed out lift to goal.
I landed 24km out from the 90km task, together with Alfredo Grey, Rich Lovelace and a Brazilian pilot. We had to carry our gear about 1km before there was a bridge over a ditch to get to the Turnpike, where our drivers could access us. Thankfully we had help, otherwise my back would have broken down!
Jonny won the day, taking the 2nd start time and catching up really quickly with us. Zac Majors leads overall, he did the same as Jonny. 10 pilots made goal.

16 April 2019

Task 1: 74km around Fantasy turnpoint

DHV-Report in German 
Results here
Ozreport updates here

West wind directions at Quest are the least favourite ones. The trees give us quite strong lee side turbulences when towing, also landings get quite rough. I kept checking wind speed and gusts for my job as safety committee member, but thankfully, all was ok.
To my relief, Bobby Bailey pulled up for my tow. In the end of the tow, I still managed to break my weaklink, also I couldn´t find any lift that took me higher than 550m, so I had to land again, in very turbulent conditions. Thankfully I pulled it off, and about 12 other pilots landed shortly after me, also Jonny Durand and Christian Ciech had to refly.
Our task was almost due south, so we had to fight a strong crosswind all the time, while an inversion kept the maximum altitude down to 1000m. I kept drifting in climb, flying slow and late and on my own quite a bit.
It was great to see Sara Weaver in her Sport glider after about 30km. What a job, to go so far on a difficult day like today in a kingpost glider! She will be doing well next year at the worlds.
When I hit the Lakeland/Haines area, I faced a lot of water, trees, houses and orange orchards - not enough safe landing fields in the 25km/h west wind that my instrument measured, so I decided for the biggest, safest spot possible, even though I could have done some more km, or possibly goal.
It was a fun flight and a fun landing, so I was happy anyway! Zippy Zac Majors won the day - only because we fed him really good food last night, I´m sure! 7 other pilots made the goal in Wales Airfield.
In Sports Class, Gecko pilot Erik Grabowski (USA, not related to our Tim) won ahead of Mark Dowsett (Canada).

The picture of the old Lufthansa Superconny was taken at the Fantasy of flight museum on the drive back. That was our first turnpoint, and I would have liked to visit owner Kermit Weeks again - he was the one who introduced me to Sherry and Joe Kittinger many years ago! But it was already closed down when we passed it.

15 April 2019

Quest Women´s Pre-Worlds 2019

Just a brief update, as I have to go to briefing soon - I am meeting with the organizers and task committee early, cause I got voted into the safety committee of the pre-worlds competition that is held in Groveland, Florida, this week. We had to cancel the first day yesterday for weather conditions. It was gusty and showers kept coming through. Today looks better, even though the thermal index is not too promising for an xc task. Let´s see! More tonight.