Sunday, July 31, 2011

Oh do you remember when...when it all began

It's like heaven being back in Laragne.  This place doesn't seem to change...and that's a good thing in this case with all my nice memories of this little village.  The Belgian Nationals started today with a quick 84km task back and forth and back and forth again across the valley and who better to blow them all away with a super fast goal finish than Carl? ;-)  He was miles out in front of everyone and ended up the only one in goal.  Mart Bosman (Dutchy) was the next closest landing 3km short of goal with Malcolm Brown (UK) in third also just short of goal.

Aside from my favorite pilot winning the day, it's just a joy to be back here in the sunshine.  So far it looks like the nice weather will hold for the week.  There's nothing nicer than these small friendly comps.


Leaving Cucco was painful...but a little like removing a splinter.  Once it's gone, it feels much better.  We had just enough time for romantic evening stop in Pisa on our way to Laragne for the Belgian Nationals.  Although the place is unbelievably touristy, we were pleasantly surprised arriving in the evening to find so few people.  The light was beautiful, most of the vendors were already packed up and we nearly had the place to ourselves.   It really is quite a site to see and I'm happy to stopped to check it out.

I tried half-heartedly to assume the pose...but even with so few people there I felf like a dork. 

We returned in the morning for a quick walk before hitting the road again, but it just wasn't the same.  The best part was taking pictures of all the ridiculous people in the crazy poses.  

The faces say it all...

Such a sad end to the worlds.  So many people worked very hard to make this happen and so many came from so far away.  Carl and I had to speed away to make the Belgian Nationals in Laragne, so we missed the prize giving...probably a good thing as it may have been a bit depressing.

A few were willing to brave the rough, rotory conditions on launch.  Davis even reported in the Oz Report that Attila flew the task in just over two hours.  
On the bright side, we can all look forward to the next worlds in Forbes where we typically have to beg for a rest day ;-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last Hope

It seems a lot of pilots are on suicide watch these days.  After the task was cancelled at the 11am briefing, we watched the sky turn nicer and nicer with plenty of sunshine until we just couldn't take it anymore and headed up the hill for a free flight around 4pm.  There were plenty of gliders up there and everyone was sticking just fine despite what must have been soft conditions after all the rain we've had.  We could see overdevelopment and rain in the distance, but it didn't actually start dumping on launch until about 6 or 6:30 after we had spent an hour or so waiting for the wind to blow up the hill again.  In the end, we gave up and the boys packed up in the rain.  What a sad end to all of this.   


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yesterday's Goal Field Invasion

Funny thing I'm hearing about goal yesterday.  Apparently there were 26 gliders that came across goal in a single 60-second period.  And, there were 67 gliders coming in during a five minute period.  Pretty amazing!!

What's more amazing is this poor Belgian pilot having his first flight here and landing smack in the middle of the busiest goal field in history ;-)

Another Cancelled Task

Well we thought there might be some hope of a task.  Went up the hill under mostly cloudy skies, set a short task up and down the ridge, passed out 90% of the trackers only to recollect them again five minutes later when we could see the rain across the valley toward Gubbio.

Many (probably most) flew and had a bit of fun on the ridge before the rain arrived.  A German pilot had a bit less fun, reportedly doing some aerobatics, and had to throw his chute.  It opened and he came down without injuries.  The glider appeared to be in two pieces on the ground.  It will be interesting to hear the story.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pictures from Task 2

Task 2

FINALLY....a great task with one of the best goal days I've ever seen!!  The forecast for afternoon overdevelopment held off for the most part until this evening.  Although there were quite a lot of dark areas along the course, apparently nothing so bad to stop the task.  We heard on the radio from team UK that the Gubbio valley was completely shaded, but still the hills worked fine and most everyone had a fantastic day!

Watching in goal was one of the coolest ever.  After Christian and Alex came in first and second, the next group of pilots was so huge that the ground at goal was nearly in shade!  It looked a bit like an alien invasion with easily 40 or 50 gliders in goal all at once and landing in nearly every direction.  What an exciting finish for the spectators.  I didn't manage to get any good shots of it all because I was busy taking cover!

Moyes Party Night was a huge success.  Enough drinking and the weather turns great!! ;-)

Monday, July 25, 2011


Why don't we do it in the road?

Jonny's face pretty much sums it all up.

Did I mention the task was cancelled?  Fog, rain, mist, sprinkling, low cloudbase, wind....what are we missing?

The South Americans (and some Swiss) found a way to entertain themselves.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Yet another day to find some way to occupy ourselves.  Nice day out with Gary and Trudy on our annual trip to Perugia for dinner and drinks at our favorite terrace bar.  The sky looked beautiful and we wondered why we weren't in the air.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A few shots from the first task

Finally a Task

We headed off to the Subasio launch for the first time yesterday.  It's about an hour drive from Cucco - probably only 30km from the main Cucco launch, but apparently the wind is typically at least 10km lighter there.  Launch conditions were ideal and we managed to get 146 pilots airborne in just about an hour.  

They set a 121 km task with five turnpoints kind of up and down and back up and down the valley.  Although the wind on launch was pretty much perfect, in the air it was blowing quite a lot (about 40km much of the day) and made for a tough task all around....only twenty pilots made goal and some big boys were conspicuously missing (Atilla, Carlos, Zippy and Dustin).  I heard the Brits talking on radio right after the start watching people go into the airspace and looking at the scores this morning, there were four pilots that got severely punished for it with zeros for the day.  That's got to hurt.  

Primoz raced into goal first, a full five minutes ahead of the next guy, Alex Ploner.  We had been watching him on the live tracker and for the last half hour of the course, he seemed to stay between five and ten minutes ahead of the pack.

Jonny boy got stuck low and fighting the wind for a quite a while.  When I left the goal field to pick up Carlos he still hadn't arrived and many thought he wouldn't get in.  Luckily though, he managed to make it in - slow but there and it seems to have not hurt him all that much in the scores this morning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grey Skies

The wind seems fairly light this morning.  But it's cool out and the sky is quite grey.  Looks like a UK day....go boys!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Blowing a force 10 gale...

Just too darn windy up there today....but we tried.  After the day was canned, quite a few guys launched and flew around a bit.  It didn't look all that turbulent, but I can't say it looked much fun either.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting Games

Although I'm nearly afraid to say it out loud, I had flashbacks of the "T" word most of the morning with all the rain and grey skies.  But, we sat around the house and watched a really nice video about the Namibia hang gliding expedition that takes place every year, then walked out onto the terrace to find beautiful sunshine and clouds.  

Fingers crossed for tomorrow. 

Table for Five

The organization hosted a dinner for the pilots at a beautiful old castle that has been converted into a hotel.  The camera that is permanently hanging around my neck somehow didn't make it to the party, so I had to steal Gordon's....pity because it was a gorgeous place and I would have loved to get some nicer shots.

More pics here....

and here are a few more from the caves yesterday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Down in a Hole....Lord it's Deep and the Sides are Steep

With the wind blowing up to 60kph, we thought we might spend day one in the mountain rather than above it.  There is a cave system right inside the hill we launch from and it's pretty cool!  The Brit team let me tag along....probably only because I continue to fly the Union Jack on my Facebook page ;-)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Helmets & Shouldermpads

Despite several attempts to resolve this helmet issue months ago, it has now come to a head was expected.  At issue is the CIVL rule requiring EN966 certified helmets at all Category 1 events.  All pilots were required to fly with certified helmets at the pre-worlds and the rule remains the same for the worlds.  However, many pilots have significantly modified their "certified" helmets (cutting parts off, drilling holes, installing headsets, etc.) presumably rendering them uncertified.  Those that don't like the rule requiring certified helmets argue that the modified helmets are no longer certified and as such, those with Lubin helmets, for instance, should also be able to fly with their uncertified helmets.

I raised this issue at the CIVL meeting in Lausanne in February, but the CIVL President was less than interested in discussing it with me and simply wanted to allow the issue to sort itself out here, now, between the organization, pilots and CIVL stewards (very unfortunate for those poor stewards :-(  )

So, as he wished, it appears to be getting "sorted out" here today ;-)...unfortunately, not in the most friendly way.   As was expected, Gerolf refuses to fly with anything but his Lubin unless everyone is required to use a certified helmet.  At this moment, I do not know what the final decision is or whether there has even been one.  I say Gerolf is refusing, but the bottom line is that he is not the only pilot that feels this way, he is simple the only one willing to take a strong stand.  For that, I am grateful to him!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A little Practice

Most everyone has gone up for a little fly today.  The weather gods are saying this may be the last chance for a practice flight before the first actual task on Tuesday.  Apparently the wind will strengthen tomorrow and Monday and Tuesday may even bring rain :-(

All the Brit boys are here, missing only Bruce who is arriving tonight.  It was pretty breezy up top, but it didn't seem to be stopping anyone from getting in the air.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Registration Day

Station A....the Maria's and our helper, the little Ruhmer.

More pics....

The fun begins...

I've had the music in my head for about a day and half now....that background music they always play in movies that gets the anticipation building, letting you know that something really cool and exciting is about to happen.  For me it's Cee Lo Green song this time.

Everyone is arriving in the usual energized, ever hopeful state.  You have to enjoy it while it lasts, because normally after the first task, everything changes.  I love it anyway...ran into Atilla, the French team, Gordon, the Americans and Aussies and many more this afternoon.  The gymnasium is's great!

Of course, you gotta love those sprog police...making sure our fun stays in check ;-).  From the looks of it, pilots can plan on about a 3 hour cue to get their sprogs checked.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

So light a candle on your cake...

At last you're finally catching up to me!  Just promise you will never grow up.  Although you might need a shave a little more often these days (but not much ;-), you've never stopped acting like that 10-year-old.

I was planning to put a gorgeous, awesome present in your cake....but I didn't want to get any frosting in my hair!  

Friday, July 08, 2011

I don't want to follow death and all his friends....

Little visit to the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo.  Walking through cool, dark, underground halls with many hundreds of corpses wasn't nearly as creepy as it sounds- although Trudy and I couldn't help but wonder how much someone would have to pay us to spend the night there alone in the dark, keeping them all company.

Some were little more than skeletons covered in clothing.  But others were fascinating with very very old leatherlike flesh still on the bones along with hair and teeth.  They were divided among the halls.  Some for only women, some only children, others must have been upperclass because they had very nice clothing on and many others were clergy and high ranked military.