Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Task 4

Difficult day on launch and in the skies today. They were expecting thunderstorms in the afternoon and so everyone wanted to get out on course as quickly as possible. Launch conditions were definitely not cooperating though. Winds we very light on the hill with dust devils blowing through all the time. Toward the end, they started switching sides of the hill, some going to the north and some to the south, but even that didn't work so well because the wind was often exactly 90 degrees to the hill. Was very hot and frustrating for pilots.

I finally got tired of being a nervous wreck watching guys launch in very iffy conditions and as soon as the last Brit was off, I headed down. I wasn't at the goal field long before Gordon was reporting rain on the course. Nick and I ran around trying to get some info from the safety channel until eventually they stopped the task at 3:44. Pilots get the distance they flew up until 20 minutes before the stopped time. Days like this aren't fun for those of us not flying because we have no idea then how anyone did. We still don't know, other than rumors at the scoring room that the longest flight was 77 km. At that point, I believe Manfred, Christian and most of the other Italians had already checked it. I guess we won't know for a few more hours.

Apparently about 20 or so landed at the camping field. All of the Brits landed at the gliding club. Gorgeous, giant field and although it was sunny there, there were huge cu's most everywhere else.

Monday, June 29, 2009

For Malcolm...

.....Oleg launching yesterday.

Aspres Launch today....and another sneeze fest

...and Twitter very tempermental lately. Don't know if there will be
any tweets in launch.

Saw the scores this morning and it seems OB got a zero yesterday for
going into the no fly zone and not landing. The rule is, if you
accidentally go in, you must land there and you get scored to that
point. If you go in and then continue flying, you get a zero. Problem
is, what if you don't know you've gone in (which would always be the
case for a pilot who continues flying). Then of course you don't know
to land and you get zeroed. Really sucks for OB.

Sent from my iPhone

Christian in First

Christian Ciech blazed across the goal line first yesterday, moving him up into first overall.  With the flight festival going on at the camping goal field, there were tons of spectators and he put on a great show for them with a Jonny Durand style low, fast finish.  The crowd loved it and the French MC was going nuts, he was so excited.  

Meanwhile Carl is busy digging himself out of the hole he tripped into by landing a meter short the first day.  He was ninth into goal yesterday with a fun (maybe not for him) full VG landing.  

Even better conditions are expected for today while the boys are still whining about sore bodies from yesterday's long one.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

About 35 or so in goal.

A bit of overdevelopment here near goal so the last few might have a
difficult time.


...kicking butt here. Third for the day!!!

Twitter not working

Heaps in to goal including Gerolf and Dustin and at least 12 more.
Twitter not working for the past 15 minutes. Guys are strting to come
up short...a few just short of the field.

Sent from my iPhone

Love Bike Day

Yet another cancelled day...didn't even have to make the trek up the hill.  We all piled on the bikes for a tour through the canyon and little picnic. Here at the house, they've got a tandem bicycle we've all dubbed the "love bike." I can't imagine a more romantic way to spend the afternoon and if the person on the front was actually doing any work, it would be quite a leisurely way to see the countryside ;-)  We cruised up through the canyon on the south side of launch and had a little lunch in the next town over before racing back home to load the gliders for an evening flight.  Perfect rest day, despite the lack of rest.  

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some Pics from Yesterday's Cancelled Task

Just got word that today's task is cancelled. Running this morning it felt quite windy, plus they're expecting more storms this afternoon. But, conditions are looking nice for tomorrow! So, another rest day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Task 3??

...maybe. The clouds are filling in very quickly here at the Chabre
lower north launch. People are talking umbrella talk and Jonny hasn't
taken his glider off the car yet. Most everyone else is rigging
trying to be optimistic.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Launching Task 2

Beautiful conditions on the Aspres launch today (aside from the nasty allergens that many suffered from). The launches here are grassy, steep and just about perfect. They're flying a 125 km task. I couldn't say where they're going really...didn't get it in the briefing. Just know that there are two turnpoints and it's a bit of an out and return. At this point, the boys are reporting that they're near the last turnpoint starting to head back. However, the last leg is into the wind (if the wind is doing the same thing up high as it is in the air). They'll be coming in from the same direction as yesterday, meaning with the wind, we might have some more exciting goal finishes.

Jonny always enjoys making fun for the crowd.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Results Day 1

About fifty pilots into goal in the end. It was a fantastic finish for the spectators with so many guys just barely making it across the line and several not making it across, but just into the field. We heard late in the day that two pilots had gone into the trees between the 3rd and 4th turnpoints where there were apparently no landings. Both are fine.

Amazing day for OB. It's so exciting standing in the goal field watching a lone glider come in from the distance wondering who it is that will be first in for the day. When I realized it was OB, all I could think was how ecstatic and proud Rob would be if he could have been here to see that. I was with him at goal in Texas two years ago when Kevin Carter came in first the first day of the worlds. Turns out Kevin had taken the earliest start, so he didn't win the day, but Rob was beside himself. He was always such a proud Wills Wing father.

Heartbreaking first day for Carl. We spotted one glider low, looking like he might make it, might not. Couldn't tell who it was, but just kept praying "please don't let it be Carl, please don't let it be Carl." When we could finally tell he was going to be short of the line by just a few meters at most, he went upright to land and I could see the yellow on his speed sleeves and knew for sure then that it was him. Although he was crushed, he always keeps a good attitude and tried to warn the others by radio that they had to have a 5 to 1 glide to get into the headwind at goal. We sat at headquarters until 11pm with the scorekeepers looking at his backup GPS's hoping maybe one would show him across the line. Turns out he was just about a meter short...how painful is that! Curt Warren, Blay and Filippo Oppici and several others were also in the goal field but just short of the line.

Here he is trying to get another few meters out of his Litespeed.

Jeff O'brien First in Goal

....taking the second start.

On Course

Fairly uneventful first day launching. Winds were very light and often blowing over the back. Just one push in the 2nd lane, but it didn't seem to effect things much. Guys were launching as soon as conditions allowed anyway. One guy ended up in the bushes below the first lane. I don't know exactly how it came about - I can't help but turn away when I hear the gasps and the sound of sailcloth brushing through the bushes.

Those who took the first start are about 2 hours into the task. I've heard lots of chatter on the radio from the Brit boys and all sounds like they're doing well. I'll head to the camping goal field in a half an hour or so and watch the first ones come it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vicki Moyes and the infamous yellow(ish) speed sleeves that I will never hear the end of.

Show for Day 2

We were all sent up to launch today despite strong wind. Everyone rigged and waiting in the wind. The best part of the day was the show we got from a bunch of sailplanes.

Tomorrow's forecast is looking much more promising!

Worlds Day 1

Well it didn't feel much like day one of the worlds waking up yesterday. Since we all knew the wind was to blow, we didn't make any plans to head up the hill. Instead we spent a very lazy afternoon strolling around Sisteron. Had a nice lunch with Bill, Molly, Vix and Jonny, then roamed around the empty streets of the town. It was St. John's day, a holiday, so everything was closed.

We're sitting this morning watching online the wind at the Chabre. Gary just announced that the wind just decreased to 37kph, but the peak winds have increased to 56!! Oops, looks like another lost day. Everyone is getting a bit antsy, wishing to have the first day out of the way. I don't think it will be today :-(

Monday, June 22, 2009

Opening Ceremonies

Team USA - left to right Kara (wife of Jeff Shapiro), Shapiro, Princess Dustina, Katie (driver), OB, Belinda (team leader), Zippy and Davis
Window watchers Claudia (from Colombia) and Fabien (French)
Team UK - Carl, Bruce, Gary, Gordon and Grant in front

Colombian Team
Austrian and Italian paparazzi ;-)

My two favorite Austalians

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yesterday's Team Leader Briefing

Although I missed the meeting, I thoroughly enjoyed the Irishman's account found on his blog at www.irish-hg-worlds-2009.blogspot.com. Here is an excerpt, but everyone should check out the whole blog - it's extremely entertaining.

"Reality intruded when at around six I had to return to HQ for the Team Leader's meeting. Spent the next two hours writing copious notes - dos and don'ts - that I later have to bring the team up to speed on. Felt a little like being back at school, hanging on the every word of Comp Director Heather Mull and scribbling furiously for the test at the end! Predictably the meeting was extended to accommodate the Brits endless questions on cloud flying and flying in proximity to airspace. Although closed to non Team Leaders, Gordon Rigg had managed to wangle his way in and was clearly acting as puppet master to their front man, muttering endless questions and hypotheticals to his harassed Team Leader who then had to repeat everything officially. Thankfully he had been gagged at the beginning of the meeting or we would still be there! By the end I don't think there was much doubt in the room that the cloud flying limits were going to be tested to the limit during this comp by a certain pilot. Heather fielded the endless stream of questions with remarkable calm and professionalism under the circumstances and managed to keep smiling despite grinding her teeth towards the end! Interestingly, perhaps Heather's most expressive features were her nipples which, while invisible for most of the meeting, became pertly erect every time Gordon prompted yet another question sending up her blood pressure! It was difficult to concentrate on the rest of the meeting after that! I hope I didn't miss anything too important."

Saturday, June 20, 2009


The mistral has hit here, so we will have a few days of finding other things to do. I think we've been lucky with nice and flyable conditions every day since we arrived a week ago. They're talking as if there is not likely to be any flying going on until about Tuesday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

One of my favorite new comp pilots, Lucas Ridley from Georgia makes great hang gliding videos for various contests all over the country. He wins many of them (as he should). Lucas is one of the few young(er) pilots getting active in competitions in the US and it's great fun to see...and he's a sweetheart to boot.

So Lucas' latest work is here http://stellaartois.triggerstreet.com/ShortFilmProject/Intro . He does a great job of promoting our sport and if we all go online and vote for him, he can continue to win and make more videos. Here is how you do it:

1. Go to http://stellaartois.triggerstreet.com/ShortFilmProject/Intro
2. Click "Request Rating Assignment"
3. It will then ask you to register with their site to be assigned one to rate.
4. After registering, your assigned video should display, if it is not Lucas' ("A Soaring Life"), then watch the one you are assigned all the way through (or just hit play and do something else while it finishes).
5. After the video is done playing it will ask you to rate it with 1-5 stars.
6. Once rated you can click "Continue Rating" for another film to rate.
7. You can repeat steps 5 and 6 until you are eventually assigned Lucas' to rate.
8. It may sound like a long process, but it would really make a difference since you can only rate a movie once for the entire contest.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another practice day....

Had an oh-so-lovely flight from the Aspres launch today. Carl was a sweetie and let me fly while he had a day of driving. It was just what I needed! I couldn't have asked for more perfect conditions...smooth strong lift and cloudbase about 10,000 ft. Froze my thumbs off.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Team Practice Day

Yesterday they were saying that the weather was to turn bad for a few days. Luckily "they" were wrong. The boys went up for another practice flight and had a great day. Carl was up in wave a lot of the time and was much happier than yesterday. The clouds came in this afternoon and shaded us nicely. I don't know if they will stick around and spoil the day tomorrow.

I spent the afternoon at the camping landing field meeting up with everyone arriving. This is my favorite part of the comp. Monica and Scott are here, Curt and Louise, Katharina, Davis and Belinda, Luiz from Colombia and Julia and the Russian team. It's so fun to see everyone again.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Days in Europe

Ok, it wasn't the pyramids or the Great Wall, but I very much enjoyed the drive from Liverpool to Laragne. We took it slow and leisurely and just arrived in Laragne yesterday morning. The ferry ride across the Channel was uneventful, but seeing Dover and the White Cliffs was cool and we were even treated with sunshine.

Yesterday was a nice day for flying so we cruised up the hill late and flew off the lower north launch. Today looked like the last reasonable day before a little something is moving in bringing lots of clouds and maybe a bit of rain. We may have two or three days to laze around and do nothing. There aren't too many comp pilots here yet. It's been nice to hang out with Heather and Mart, Timothy and Dustin and the few Brits that have arrived. I hear many pilots are set to arrive tomorrow and the next day...in time for the poor weather.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What I've Kept and What I've Thrown Away

Timothy, Dustin and I arrived in Basel late this evening after a long journey from Quest.  The boys picked me up at the beach midday Monday and we drove 3 hours in mostly pouring rain to Miami.  Despite getting there three hours early, TSA took forever to unpack, open up and thoroughly inspect our gliders, so we boarded the plane exactly ten minutes after it was supposed to have left.  I don't know if it was us that slowed things down, but that started a chain reaction making us late arriving in Duesseldorf and causing our gliders (and mine and Timothy's harnesses) to miss the connection to Munich.  The story is that they will deliver everything to the airport in Geneva tomorrow where we are passing through on the way to Laragne.  Hope that really happens because I'm supposed to hop on a plane for Liverpool tomorrow afternoon.  It might be apparent that I'm a bit cranky.

I've been told I'm "daft" for flying back to Liverpool just to drive all the way to France.  I suppose I am, but hey, I've been called worse things.  The thing is, the English Channel is another one of those bizarre places that's been on my list since Jr. High School.  I often wonder if that is a particularly  impressionable age (the Jr. High years) or if it has to do with a favorite teacher of mine, but most, if not all of the odd places I've wanted to visit come from that time in my life and I have no explanation as to why I feel the need to see them....the Panama Canal, the Antarctic, the Pyramids, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, Macchu Picchu, etc.   Strange the things I've kept.  Maybe I will find the Channel silly, but it still needs to be done.