Saturday, July 31, 2010

Quick Update

All the hoping and praying didn't work.  Winds are still strong out of the north - up to 70km per hour and cloudbase is still quite low.  The task is cancelled for today.  Things may mellow out by this evening, so there is chance pilots may free fly.  Tomorrow's forecast doesn't look spectacular either, but we'll wait and see.  Monday anyway, is looking great so far.

Cucco Pre-worlds Day 1

They've got a big gymnasium here for HQ and all the briefings.  It's great for days like today when we're just waiting for conditions to improve.  A few future world champions are running around playing soccer  (can you guess which past world champions these guys belong to?) and we're waiting for the 11am re-briefing.  At this point, the wind direction and velocity are all wrong - NW at about 30km.  Cloudbase is also well below the top of the mountain.  With any luck - actually, it might take a lot - cloudbase will rise and the wind will lighten up and switch around a bit.  I suppose might be asking a bit much :-/

Friday, July 30, 2010

Registration Day

Ah, my favorite part of every competition...the reunion.  I so enjoy the atmosphere before the comp starts.  Everyone is positive and excited.  It's fun when we all meet up again and especially fun this time around as there are so many faces that are new to me (that happens with 150 person comp!)

Hopefully the weather is getting it's naughtiness out of the way early.  Last night we had a huge all night thunderstorm and heaps of rain all day today.  The forecast for the next day or two isn't looking exactly spectacular, but we're praying for improvement and I'm sure it will come.  

It seems the pilots are getting younger and younger all the time.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cinque Terra

Nice little non-flying stopover at the Cinque Terra between the Euros and the pre-worlds.  The weather wasn't ideal for flying anywhere, so hitting the beach sounded like the go.  

While I'm enjoying the natural beauty of the area, the boys are doing their best to get into trouble with the local authorities.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Final day and we managed to get a task in despite a less than ideal forecast, a late start and fair amount of whining.  Turned out to be the perfect task out into the flats with around 40 at goal and everyone happy.  Individual standings will remain pretty much the same, although team scores could change up a bit.  There's a small chance that team UK could move into the bronze metal place, but we won't know until the scores come in.

Meanwhile, we're off to the prize giving and party.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

World's Best Meet Director

Three weeks of competition flying with Juaki at the helm and I'm really impressed.  I know how difficult it is to keep 20 pilots in line and his ability to keep a calm demeanor after three solid weeks of this with nearly 100 pilots is a sight to behold. 

Conditions were definitely marginal on launch today - strong and crossing wind with turbulent conditions in the air.  Juaki maintains a sense of humor and this uncanny composure that keeps the rest of us (well, most of us) mellow as well.  He has been directing meets here in Spain for about 15 years, running the Spanish Nationals on a few occasions and the worlds in Algodonales in 2001.  He also manages to fly in most of the meets he runs - that's quite a feat! 

I think it takes a certain personality type to put up with the kind of abuse we pilots typically dish out.  This, along with Juaki's years of experience, make him one of the best.

Day 8 from launch

Twitter doesn't seem to be working this afternoon. But, they've
called an 86km task mostly ridge racing around locally with goal over
at Tremp.

At the moment launch conditions aren't looking good at all, very cross
winds. They've just announced that all start times will be delayed by
one hour.

Everyone is standing on launch getting everyone else worked up over
conditions....the usual :-)

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Like Magic

We had spectacular thunderstorms this morning with lightning striking right up on the hill where we are staying.  It seems they picked exactly the right day for a rest day, although since about 3 o'clock this afternoon it's been sunny and warm. 

Going into the last three days of the competition, Gerolf has a solid lead – about 200 points on Tom Weissenberger in second.  I had a chance to chat with Gerolf on launch yesterday and get a little insight into what is driving him these days.  His last major win was in Croatia at the Pre-Euros in 2005.  Right around that same time he won the French Nationals in Laragne (2005) and the British Nationals also in Laragne (2006).  But, he’s not had a great run since then. 

So I asked what he thought it was that was giving him such a good run this time around.  Not only is he leading overall, but he has won three out of seven tasks here.  At 50, what suddenly starts to kick in, I wondered?  Patience, I was told, is that answer.  I have to say, that made me laugh more than a little bit.  I don’t think anyone would say Gerolf is known for his patience.  But Gerolf recons that is exactly what it is.  For perhaps the first time in his flying career, he has learned to slow down.  Maybe that comes with age?  He thinks so.  Between this new-found patience and having a solid start on the first tasks, he’s in a great spot mentally.  He went on to explain that winning a few in the beginning certainly puts you in the right state of mind for backing off and letting the others rush themselves into the ground.  Blay, for example, is a fantastic new young pilot.  But all of his energy and enthusiasm has translated – this week at least -  into pushing much too hard and ending up on the deck.   

Gerolf sounds rather surprised with his success this week, adding “Is this serious?  It’s like magic!” Maybe it's all the recognition he's getting from all the "freaking bloggers" here ;-)

Monday, July 19, 2010


Rough day for Carl.  After smoking out in front and believing that he would win the day and perhaps move up into medal territory, he ended up 1km short of goal.  It's absolutely heartbreaking for me and I can only imagine how much it sucks for him.

After his one meter short day at the worlds in Laragne last summer, I know how well he deals with disappointment, but it never ceases to amaze and impress me.  The ability to see your mistakes and recognize that only you are responsible for them is something that not all pilots have and I admire him so much for that.  Not blaming others or taking your frustrations out on others is makes a true champion.  

The overdevelopment that threatened all day is coming close to our little refuge up on the hill tonight.  It's a gorgeous sky (when you're not in it ;-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 7

Just too tired to find much to say.  Quick version: Started off looking really tough.  Most flew around launch for an hour and half before taking the start just dribbling low over the back.  Gerolf won the day again, with a pretty good lead overall now.  Jonny beat up and too tired to finish the task, landed at goal skipping the last turnpoint.  Carlos and the whole British team took the last start and flew together nearly all day.  Carl with a fast time (two minutes faster than Gerolf on the second start), but taking the last start won't get any leading points.  A lot of scary stories about low saves from unlandable areas.  Exhausting day overall.

Day 6

The Brits had a fantastic day yesterday, with Carl finishing third and moving up several places in the overall standings and three Brits in goal.  The Swiss and Austrians each just had two in.  
Alex and Christian came in super fast for the Italians with Alex first for the day and Christian fourth with a low low low finish!

On the less bright side, Jonny boy had a rough day.  He was pushing hard out front, at one point thinking he would beat the lead gaggle by 30 minutes.  Apparently he pushed a bit too hard and thermaled himself right into the ground.  He knocked himself out cold, waking up with his face in the dirt and his instruments smashed.  Thankfully, he is mostly unhurt.  He'll have a nice shinner today, a sore head and some cuts on his elbows and legs, but otherwise the same Jonny we know and love ;-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Photos from Yesterday

Day 5

Absolutely amazing day yesterday.  It's funny sitting at goal listening to pilots complain about not being fast when they've just flow 200km across some of the most incredible landscape in the world.  Of course it's a race and of course, everyone wants to be fast, but I still find it amusing.

Before takeoff I asked Jonny how long the tast would take so I knew when to drive to goal.  He said "the fastest guy (being me!) will do it in 3:57."  Atilla standing next to him said "no, it will be four and half, for sure."  Just to be safe, I headed to goal to arrive at the three and a half hour mark, only to find six pilots already out of their harnesses celebrating the great flight.  I think they said the fastest were three hours fifteen minutes....unbelievable!!

Carl thinks the next time they head to Sierra Ferrera, the task ought to require them to arrive there and stay for one hour before continuing to the next turnpoint ;-)  He really enjoyed the view and didn't want to have to rush past it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Carl Day ;-)

Carl Lightning Fast!

.....fourth for the day just behind Czeck Dan, Mario from France and one other guy ;-)

Another well called task with goal out to the east toward Barcelona.  The seabreeze convergence set up and by the time we arrived at goal about a half an hour before the first guys, the wind was already howling and it looked as though they would be coming into a strong headwind.  Luckily, that convergence was basically right over us and they didn't have to fight into the wind on final.  About 25 or 30 came in together in the first wave and another 10 15 dribbled in a bit later.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Euros - Day 2

Another well called task today with at least 40 or so in goal.  Things started off very difficult with few getting much above takeoff.  Carl and Jonny hung around a launched late to save their strength for the flight.  They were among the last to go.  Along with Balaz and Tom Weissenberger, Carl stayed around for the last start, but that may not have worked out for the best.  Anyway, all happy and safe and ready for more again tomorrow.

Looks like Gerolf won the day, with Blay second and Jonny third.  Yesterdays scores should be corrected and online by tonight.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 1, Task 1

134 kilometer box(ish) task with quite a lot of cloud cover moving in.  The boys are saying on radio that it's not a racing day, so conditions are not surprisingly somewhat weak.  Cloudbase isn't particularly high either....not much above 7000ft.  Most all have taken the start and I'll drive toward goal now.

Opening Ceremonies

European Championships Begin

Nice opening ceremonies under the hot sun in Ager yesterday.  They had originally predicted rain for the first few days, but things turned around and it looks like there will be no rest anytime soon.  

There are several non-European teams here - Australia, USA, Brasil and Japan.  The European teams are not always as friendly as they ought to be to the foreigners ;-)
The "Colonies" team gave it to the Brit boys.

Natalia and Julia are flying incredibly well.  Young Julia finished 9th in the Spanish nationals.
Go team UK!!