28 August 2007

It's not supposed to be this way

Task 1 – 124km 3 turnpoints. Take off was fine, slightly breezy in the St Andre valley and very choppy. A lot of people struggled to get round on to Cheval Blanc round the front, me included so I decided to go the back way via Thorame-Basse. I got a climb to about 8,500ft and then snuckled up the spine and through a Col at 150ft – suddenly I had a 3,000ft ground clearance when I popped out the other side. At one point I looked back wondering why I was there. We then moved on to the Dormillouse run which is where Sailplanes were passing at 100knots. The Dormillouse is a about a 30km ridge where you never need to turn unless you hit a 10 up. The scenery and the rock strata is just incredible and I wish I had taken my camera, it can be a proper white knuckle ride and then you have to come back! I flew with Dave Matthews for most of the flight and I felt like we were old men on zimmer frames because it seemed to be taking ages to do the task.

Landing was interesting as the goal field had been called for my least favourite place (next to the lake) where it is common place for the wind to switch – which it was doing. I decided to head for another field and an angry French farmer who wasn’t too pleased I landed in his hay field! The flight was interesting, challenging and tiring.

Oh no! I hand my instrument in to Dave who is doing the scoring and he tells me “9” – “9 what?” I say – according to the scoring system my Compeo and back up MLR haven’t made the first turnpoint! This is impossible, both instruments confirm I have completed the full task and would not switch to the next turnpoint without doing the first – a bit like a TomTom works they would have said the equivalent of “turn around when possible”.

Head back to the tent gutted.

Yesterday the Compeo is checked again on a different laptop which now says I missed the turnpoint by a further distance than I did last night! What’s going on…… other pilots are now worried that their instruments will switch also. Do I have confidence in the scoring system being used? Is there something wrong with my Compeo? This should not be happening…..

Task 2 – the weather yesterday was stronger thermals and lift and lighter wind. There was certainly stronger thermals but not lighter wind it was much stronger @45km per hour plus. Where is the respect for the mountains?

After going into free fall and many, many near head on’s the free fall made my decision to go and land in a safe field. I had nearly 900ft per minute sink on the way in – not good and probably the roughest conditions I can remember ever flying in. The task was stopped and we are all scored to where we were at 1515 today. The majority of pilots I spoke to agreed with the decision.

Not a good 2 days in France so far.

25 August 2007

Practice Day

Steve Green and I headed towards Nice on Thursday to pick up 'Doris' and Sara who both flew in to meet us. We had a very civilised time there before heading back to St Andre Les Alpes and the luxury of our tents.
Got the glider put back together and I had an hour or so on Friday punting around St Andre and up the Allos Valley and back – it was so cold, thought I was going to get frost bite at 9,000ft which was cloud base. My Summer ‘Texas’ gloves are just not adequate. The air was extremely clear and the view of the mountains was stunning I wish I had taken my camera with me. Its very nice doing the practice days before the comp as you can just float around in the thermals and enjoy the view…… but for some reason these days I always seem to need a purpose to fly which is quite odd – its as though I need programming before flight – I’m always look at my instruments seeing where I’m supposed to be going.

I had a rest day today and just chilled – and struggled to get over my hang over - the comp starts tomorrow.

21 August 2007

Back in Europe

We landed back in Frankfurt a little delayed this morning due to one of the cabin crew having a heart attack which resulted in a detour to Ireland!

The flight back was good - fuelled by Margaritas and Champagne – we boarded along with the German team and as Corinna had a contact on the airline the gliders were expected, or should I say the German team gliders were expected and we tagged along.

Again I was searched leaving Dallas (Carl too) – do we look dodgy?

I’m on my way now to the South of France to meet up with Caroline and for the British Nationals Competition which starts at the weekend at St Andre Les Alpes – so far the weather is not looking good –hope it improves, we are camping!

19 August 2007

It's Official - Brits win Team Gold

You can click on any of the pictures to make them bigger!

Back row L-R: Gary Wirdnam, Richard Lovelace, Dave Matthews, Robin Hamilton. Front row L-R: Carl Wallbank, Bruce Kavanagh

We are the proud owners of Gold medals (Robin tells me we are the first Brit team since 1991 to get Gold) - Carl and Gary were also presented with diplomas for their individual results in the top 10, well done guys.

Congratulation to Attila Bertok for winning the individual competition and to Robert Reisinger and Gerolf Heinrichs (second, and thrid). Someone told me that Attila is the first pilot in history to win both the pre-Worlds and then go on to win the World Championships!

UK Hang Gliding Competitions
Jamie's blog for more prize giving action CLICK
Official scoring at the Oz Report CLICK

Theme Song of the 2007 Worlds - CLICK

18 August 2007

Day 10 - its not over until its over

Nothing is official until the prize giving/closing ceremony which is tonight.... but I think I can say that the Brits have won team gold!

We are busily packing our kit away so we can go and P.A.R.T.Y

(no task today due to a forecast for more rain – Erin has left us and Dean is on its way!)

Overall Team Results:
GBR 18426
FRA 18164
AUT 17947
ITA 17703
DEU 17559
AUS 17412
JPN 16166
USA 15952
BRA 15331
CZE 15101
NOR 14527
CAN 13608
ESP 12410
CHE 12201
HUN 9851
MEX 9134
SWE 8997
ISR 7809
ECU 7307
NLD 6939
COL 6857
DNK 5270
SVN 5249
NZL 2546
GTM 899

Theme Song of the 2007 Worlds - CLICK

17 August 2007

Day 9 – Hangar 25

For those of you back home wondering what happened to Antoine – we had a manual insert waypoint and he got it wrong and missed a turnpoint! If a Frenchman doesn’t know how to use a MLR there is a problem!

Hangar 25 is the local Big Spring Air Museum where we’ve just spent a little time wandering around and keeping out of the rain. More of the same forecast for tomorrow.

Back at the Whitten Inn the weather isn't getting any better

Theme Song of the 2007 Worlds - CLICK

Day 9 - Rain might stop play today

It’s a grey overcast start to the day – 90% of rain in the Big Spring area.

16 August 2007

Day 8 - Task 7 - THE RESULTS

Task 7 - 171.6km. All Brits in Goal.

I had a very non-focussed day and was slow getting in.

My final glide into goal was horrendous. 20km out my instrument was telling me I would arrive 1600ft above the goal with a 12:1 glide. WRONG the last 10km the glide went to a 6:1 – a top up was required before getting in.

Goal at Hobbs - Combat L 07

Corinna was nearly caught by a brit film crew having a pee at goal; luckily she spotted them in time!
Team GB Results:
5 RH 920
22 GW 864
23 DM 851
40 CW 743
42 BK 740
53 RL 686

Team GB results:
GBR 18422
FRA 18161
AUT 17943
ITA 17700

Day 8 - Pictures

Dan Vyhnalik - Task 6 winner flying a 2yr old Combat L15
Jet in the launch line

Tug Pilot Lisa
Johnny Carr will know what this bird is
This ‘Worlds’ business is tiring - just ask Bruce and Carl

The Airfield residents – they think we can’t see them but the long lens hunts them out

Day 8 - Task 7 - World Championships

Task 7 - 172km downwind task to Hobbs, New Mexico.

PS - Its really good news that my fellow team mates have been able to change their return flights so they can now stay for the closing ceremony.

Check out Jamie's daily goal reports CLICK
Official scoring at the Oz Report CLICK

Day 8 - Look out for Tornadoes

...............That’s what the weather forecast is saying for Friday and Saturday (talk is that this is the last day of the comp).

It’s a grey start to the day with a bit of sun breaking through and a very light breeze - no news on the task today so far.

15 August 2007

Day 7 Photos

Mario task 5 debrief - less than enthusiastic report on his winning flight

Last minute repairs
French team - in 2nd place
Big Spring Air Terminal

Attila - top banana

Massage before take off, its a hard life!

For Sue and George

Nice clouds
Mr Tefal
Bruce and Chris our driver
Bed time
This is where the blogging takes place

Day 7 - Task 6 - THE RESULTS

No pilots in Goal today.

Just as the task got started prefrontal cloud came across the airfield, severely shutting down lift. I had only one good climb dodging the cloud at the start of the task (cloud base was just over 8,000). The sky opened back up again and it was then a case of following the ‘sunny line’ which took us off track. It was a bimble to the 1st turnpoint before landing 5k short of the second. Not an exciting day!

The pizza, beer and pool party probably had something to do with why Carl was late off launch and needed a relight! (but what goes on tour.....)

Cotton Field 5k short of turnpoint 2
Turnpoint 2
Team GB Results:
15 RH 819
21 GW 781
31 DM 760
34 BK 760
40 RL 735
64 CW 571

Overall team results:
GB 15785
FRA 15539
AUT 15281
ITA 14996

Check out Jamie's daily goal reports CLICK
Official scoring at the Oz Report CLICK

Day 7 - Task 6 - World Championships

Task 6 - 165km (we were thinking it would be a closed circuit task today due to Flossie/Erin but it isn't!).

Check out Jamie's daily goal reports CLICK
Official scoring at the Oz Report CLICK

Day 7 – Hurricane Flossie

We probably wouldn’t have had a rest day if we knew Flossie was on her way!

Hurricane Flossie has now been downgraded to a Tropical Storm (Erin). Due to hit Houston later today and we will probably get the remnants tomorrow which will mean the flying might be curtailed - Forecast is for lighter winds today but Friday and Saturday look written off!

Tropical Storm Erin formed Wednesday in the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward Texas, threatening to bring downpours to a state that already has had one of its rainiest summers on record.

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows a tropical depression in the central Gulf of Mexico, left, and Tropical Storm Dean in the Atlantic Ocean, lower right, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007 at 9:15 a.m. EDT.

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows a tropical depression that has formed into Tropical Storm Erin in the Gulf of Mexico, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007, at 10:45 a.m. EDT.

14 August 2007

Let's Party

We had a pizza, beer and pool party – it got a bit crazy and for some reason most people ended up in the pool fully clothed. Thanks to the Whitten Inn for providing the pizza and beer and Jonny for the Red Bull of course!

Davis and Mario (task 5 winner) - I think Davis' words were something along the lines of "I'd like to see you fly it on a paraglider"

Hotel Manager joining in the fun
Jorg Bajewski
Davis winning Jamie at Poker .... but not for long
Corinna's 'pimp' - not only is she the German driver she also carries Corinna's glider! .... and Moore a Geologist driving for the Canadian team
Happy Birthday Belinda
Elio Cataldi and Carl
Mr Mark Dowsett
Awesome cool dude's