Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lekker man, lekker!

Task 5 of the 13th FAI World Championships was a 129km race to goal via three turn points. First in was Luca Donini (ITA), followed by Petr Kostrhun (CZE) and Adrian Thomas (GBR). First lady, coming in at 67 was Klaudia Bulgakow (POL)… and another 33 pilots followed her in, seeing a total of 99 pilots make goal.

After five tasks the top five on the leaderboard are: Jeremie Lager (FRA), Charles Cazaux (FRA), Davide Cassetta (ITA), Emile van Wyk (GBR) and Julien Wirtz (FRA). Klaudia is currently leading the ladies, with Seiko and Nicole in second and third.

South African spirits were high, with four of our pilots landing in goal. Russell and Nevil tied for 39th position, each scoring 888 for the team. Our poor results on task 3 sees us ranking relatively low on the nation rankings, and looking at the current overall leaderboard, it looks as though the nation race is between France and Italy.

The overall nation/team results can be found here: http://airtribune.com/sites/default/files/team_result_20130723-2027.html
We chatted to our team pilots about their Task 5 experience…

first up was Russell Achterberg...

“Today flying west was quite beautiful but at the same time quite intimidating. There was very little merit in breaking away early without incurring risk. The day was different to other days - we were significantly higher by at least 400m; there were convergence lines all over the place, it was a nice clear day, bit bumpier than the other days, climbs were much stronger, in fact if you were in a 2m/s up thermal you were thinking of leaving for something stronger. I like it when the vario goes all the way over, and then starts wrapping back…yes, I like it a lot…

I had a fairly good run back from TP1, but to be honest, after take-off I struggled – my word for the day today was ‘STRUGGLE’ – every choice I made felt like it wasn’t quite right... so in fact I was flying from one iffy choice to another… Luckily (yes Andre… you may say there is no luck in this game….) the end results worked out fine, particularly from about half way to last TP. I seemed to make the wrong choice (again) – there was convergence almost everywhere and I found myself on NOT the right line, permanently below, trying to catch up by finding the stronger thermal, doing two or three turns more to get high and then full speed bar to catch up…

I am disappointed with my result in Task 3, and must add that the standard of flying at this event has been surprisingly high. Being the Worlds there is much more a feeling of country identity here than in the World Cup events, but still a real feeling of good will between pilots and competing countries. I think the gliders are so closely matched, nobody has the ability to use equipment to differentiate – they have to find the conditions and fly the line to make it work for them. Sometimes it is a bit of luck – a bit more than you would want… and today admittedly I was being broken, I wasn’t doing the breaking. In fact, I was hanging onto the lead gaggle with my fingernails but they kept eluding me.”

Chris van Noord:
 “Today was certainly the best day of flying thus far with stronger climbs, which took me up to 3 200m. My mistake was crossing the valley about 15km too early as on the other side we were stuck with 1.5 and 2m/s thermals, while the others were screaming up to base. I ended up about 15 minutes behind lead gaggle. My decision to cross was based on the fact that all week the mountains on the opposite side of the valley were working better, but today the main ridge definitely worked better. Mistake number 2 was trying to catch up too hard, and I ended up on the ground about 15km short of goal. I have never flown so far east before – today was really a fantastic flying day and great visibility! Caught a constant 5 up from 2000m to 3200m asl on the last leg. Of course my first choice would have been to make goal…but I did fly a wonderful 110km.”

Chris launching for Task 5
Nevil Hulett:
“Today was nice and fast - it was all about lines and if you got the right line today you could just fly straight. Happily I was often flying straight. I had about five three ups, otherwise just straight, and never low. Also, I think it’s the most speed bar I’ve been on in the most turbulent air this week.  My strongest thermal was at the pass, before I crossed to TP2. Today was hard work and busy, but such a great feeling as I was focused on watching pilots in my vicinity and trying to choose the lifty lines. Every tiny mistake you make here, you feel immediately as fifteen pilots have moved half a km away from you and you are unlikely to catch them. I had a really good run until after TP 3 when I needed one more dot to connect to goal. Sadly this dot didn’t present itself as promptly as I would have liked. I joined one thermal and then went cross course to another one, loosing about five minutes on the lead gaggle. Things could have turned out different if I had flown straight into a strong thermal instead having to search, but I can’t complain – I had lots of “dots to join” where the other people around me didn’t get them. I feel Russell and Andre’s PWC hours show, here – definitely any South African team that wants to do well needs to fly the PWC. CAT 2’s don’t cut it for the Worlds… although they do teach you what to do when you are way in the front or are isolated, at the end of the day the Worlds is all about big gaggles.”

Stef Juncker:
“I was a bit hasty on the first two days so landed early, but over these past three tasks (apart from not crossing the line on task 3) I’ve taken my time a little more and am feeling the positive and motivated vibe of the team. The fact that I’ve managed to come in about four minutes behind the fastest guy makes me feel fantastic. Also, today is the second longest task I’ve ever flown, and at the end of it I could have carried on flying I was so amped! My only complaint today was that my hands got cold and that I need winter gloves! Today was a good task – not complicated, or difficult, and the gaggles have behaved well and respectfully. It’s such a pity for the lead gaggle, as I believe ten people landed early, but at the end of the day it’s about racing.”

Proudly South African at goal, Andre still all layered up 
Andre Rainsford:
“It was lovely and clear and crisp fresh air. I was grateful that I was wearing three layers. Rambunctious climbs were the order of the day, and it is very clear that we are reaching the end of the competition as pilots are co-operating a bit better. I had a perfect start today, got the first turn point and pushed really hard to get back to cloudbase with five others. It was immediately apparent that a handful of people were in the mood for some racing which made me very very happy! We screamed back under the clouds above the mountain, enjoying the view of the launch from 2 500m asl. We carried on racing all the way to the east, to the end of the valley. When we reached the far end the valley had started popping and we made a ninety-degree course correction to follow the saddle at 3000m. I grabbed the far western turnpoint with fifteen other pilots and started the trek east along the southern low hills tagging cloud to cloud, before having to slow down in order to make the final TP in the south east which was in a big blue hole. And then… the dash back and the furious race into goal.

It didn’t feel like 130km…I remember every moment of the day in fast forward motion replay…It was almost disappointing to get to goal as it felt we could have flown another 50-100km if we wanted to. A particularly gratifying day with highlights including hopping along the clouds, high above the Sopot valley and the picturesque crossing at the saddle.”

Team briefing before the task
Jan Minnaar:
 “I think the task was perfect for the conditions, and today’s weather pattern as it developed. The team strategy in the beginning was to use the clouds and get high  - and this paid off. They had to fly faster to not get caught by the north wind. And in the van, we know now on the long tasks to retrace our steps, even though it took us on a whirlwind tour of very picturesque Bulgarian rural villages and countryside.”

A few of Team Great Britain popped by for some drinks and we grabbed the chance for a quick chat with Emile (currently lying fourth overall) and Guy Anderson.

Emile van Wyk:
“I’m currently fourth overall, but am trying not to think about that too much. I am taking every day as it comes and am trying to place in the top twenty of each task by flying as I normally do – let’s see what happens!

Today was pretty turbulent along the ridge as we raced to get the first turnpoint. On the way back it was a bit tricky – we took the middle line, I saw a few people on the back mountains, but we stuck to the flats, trying to stay on a straight line course to the far turnpoint. A couple of wispy clouds started forming and I stayed on as much speedbar as possible through the turbulent conditions. At this stage we were in the second gaggle, and just before the lead gaggle to the right who had chosen the main mountain route. We floated towards the turnpoint, snagged it, and from there a couple of glides, climbs to above 3000m, and set up for a final glide 20:1. We pushed forward and kept on pushing on whilst others took weak climbs. When we took the final climb Adrian was to my left and Guy to my right - we all came in around 3:35.”

Guy Anderson:
“I was leading out a bit at the start and decided to go down the mountain on a convergence line – it was like flying the south coast of England in a seabreeze front, so I was quite happy to be in the right spot. I let the others know that I was diving around the valley and then changed my mind, just as the north wind started coming through. I was above a wonderful big monument, dived out and back in again. Then I discovered a nice cloud building to the turnpoint, Emile followed me down this line that saw us sneaking in with the lead group. Back down the ridge, good fast climb, lots of pushing on… I saw a lot of folk went left down the smaller hills, a little off line, but I hung a right, found a nice lifty line and was fourth around the last turnpoint. We wanted to get to goal in one glide, but decided to take one climb which I left early with Adrian and Emile – it was touch and go, and three who were flying with us got the speed section but landed short. Highlights today – the spectacular monument, a stork showing us a thermal and a huge tailwind that gave us a strong downwind leg of around 80km/h.”

It seems promising that Task 6 will be another 100 plus...off to work...

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