Nothing sucks here in Annecy...well, almost nothing. This place is not exactly as I expected - it's much, more more. I was initially worried about the paragliding traffic because I've heard many European pilots say that they "used to" fly here, but hangies don't come here anymore because it is totally overrun with paragliders. Well so far, although there are plenty out there, they haven't been a problem for me at all...and for that, I am very grateful!
The mountains and the lake are spectacular. The landing fields seem plentiful, although I haven't ventured out enough to really make that judgment. We had two nice practice days where I just spent the time getting my nerves in order and worrying entirely too much about traffic in the landing field. There is heaps for sure - I think around 70 pilots in the French Nationals and probably another 35 or so between the girls, rigids and sport class. But, the French seem to have a nice system worked out for landing approaches and lanes and such. And, if there are 5 rigids and a sport class glider coming in at the same time as you (as was the case for me the second practice day), you can just bail off to the adjacent fields no problem at all. I'm actually surprised more people don't just land next door. Anyway, the things that were making me nervous at the start seem to be no problem at all, so that's a good thing. Combine that with the gorgeous scenery here and this place really is something special.
I think the French organization will be great and totally up to speed for the worlds next year. Yeah, things aren't perfect just yet, but they're making a real effort to listen to pilots and fix the issues that do come up as quickly as possible. I heard from Ben, the British team leader, that they actually got the police to escort a couple of PG pilots off the field when they refused several requests to stop kiting in the middle of the landing field. Raymond Caux is the safety director and have so much respect for him and his passion about safety. He gave us the best mandatory safety briefing I have every seen. Instead of the usual, pointless speeches about keeping the nose down on launch and drinking enough water, he gave an interesting speech about human risk factors. Good stuff and I think people were actually listening!
Yesterday was the first real task and I screwed it up big time. I had replaced the lost screw holding my 6030 in my instrument pod. The screw never felt like it was in there quite right. Obviously, it wasn't because no more than 30 seconds after launch, I reached over to tip the pod down into place only to find that it was empty! Oops....that was a $1000 cock up! I flew around for a bit thinking, hey, I can still stay up and just follow people around the course....but then I started to think if I landed, I would have no idea of my coordinates and getting retrieved might be a bit of a pain. Also, I'm sure I was overestimating my ability to stay up without a vario given that many others were landing even with one. Lucky for me, little maria is loaning me her 6030 to use for the rest of the week.
I don't know where scores are up yet, if at all, but Glen had a great day - he didn't make goal, but landed with Pedro and Tom Weissenberger - two top dogs. Apparently, 4 did make goal, but that's a pretty small number in this crowd.