torek, 26. marec 2013

Bassano Deja vu

Another Easter is coming soon this weekend with traditional Bassano competition in Bassano del Grappa. However, as you might have noticed, Europe is still deeply in winter. I massive turn around with cold that was not present like this in last 50 years.
Looking at Ilmeteo and speaking to our team, we decided to stay at home and look if some miracle happens in terms of weather. Staying there in caravan while it is snowing 500 m above your head is not a nice experience, at least not for 5 days in a roll. So, like last year, a bit of gamble at home, I am sure organizers will push for a 40 km tasks to hold in the funds they got from entry fees, but this year with out mine. I decided not to pay in advance as last year, first they talked about some refunding, but in the end they stopped answering the emails we where sending down to them. At least they could say, no.
Shot with Lumia 920
Last Friday was great for flying already trough forecast. We had
an yearly meeting with our club so I choose to go to Tolmin and try the low take off just above village Volče. Few years back I was taking of here on a something like this day and got to fly to 2500m in strong N wind to Italy and back. I rigged the glider on top all alone as I left the car waiting on top. It is a 10 minute drive from landing area. I was prepared already at 12 but it seems like this is the best time to be there in early spring. Really light wind that had some windows of stronger wind, so I waited for this interval. 
I took off and went straight up slowly to 2000m when I crossed over
to the white circus. I tried to fly close to the ridge but it was not working like we are used to so I had to climb up outside where it was screaming up at the moments. Somehow my camera decided not to work so I was left with out epic shots of flying in this vast area of snow. Guess I will have to try again after this bad period of weather goes over. It was amazing to fly at home again after a long time. I have not seen no one in the air for 2 hours of flight, only birds and lots looots of snow. Lets hope for another day like that.

sobota, 16. marec 2013

Winter race, task n2, last day

Today we had predicted good day ahead of us. We all knew this will be a longer, nice, but still even colder day. They measured -20°c 100 km south of the competition area. But, who cares about cold, we dress up, our harnesses provide first cloth, the only thing that is suffering in this temperatures is hands. I tried to fly paragliders in this kind of temperatures and believe me, we hg pilots have much easier job dealing with it than them because of position of our hands (downwards).

Organizers called a 91 km task, a traditional one, a task with really only vision obstacles like valley crossings, ... Easy one.
We took off straight to freezing 2000 m again, with 30 minutes to spare just up there. Fingers shaking, hand shaking, you try most you can to stay warm, but still don`t go down to warm up. I started up good and was in front until Nanos antenna. We where flying back where you had to decide where to go, Vipava valley makes a small curve with the ridge, so you could pass it on the flats or go with the ridge. Clouds seemed good, half the way but really bad in the crucial part. I decided to go traditional way, but left the climb to early  where we where together with Iztok. I lost too much yesterday to be observing the competition from behind, so I went for it, low, too low to the ridge straight in to the W wind.
While I struggled in the lee sides of the ridge Iztok overflew me big time and in the end won the day. Guys who flew in the flats mostly made it, only Primoz choose a landing quite close to mine as he rushed too much like I did, only another way.

Small recap of the competition. After two years of good flying here I came back from Australia tempted to race it on :) But rushed too much with it. Adding additional 5 kg to the glider seemed no harm to the climb, so I am glad I found out this one as it is easier to catch up with them with a 5 kg led belly :) I still need to work out the vario stuff, I have it mounted in the helmet but am not using it as somehow, the pressure in the helmet is making the vario beeping while I look left or right. Not helpful at all :)
I can not be satisfied with the flying here, but I know the mistakes I have done where all lack of patience one. Bassano in 14 days, if.... the weather will be ok.

The winner was Christian Chiech who is always flying from behind to the front, second was Iztok who took all the chances of this competition to fly more conservative and in the end, ended up with a great result! 3rd was Franc Peternel who is really steady in the last years, great guy for motivation! Congrats to all. 

Winter race was a winter race, cold, strong, well, yes short for two days but still, very nice. I hope that pilots went home from Slovenia with a smile on their face ones again.

petek, 15. marec 2013

Aeros Winter race task1

Finally sky turned blue today at least for a bit. Quite strong N wind was forecasted in the higher layers but it did not seemed like it is too strong when we cam to the take off. Around 25 pilots showed up, many many stayed at home as it was a long drive, too long for a two day flying.
Organizers came up with 51 km task with a bit of local flying but then with long crossing out towards the sea to Trstelj and then following the small ridge in the flats to Anja landing. They did that because of N wind that was predicted to be stronger in the landing area so they made the task more outside of the ridge.
I took of second behind Manfred Trimmel and got a nice lift with Franc up to 2000m. Super smooth air, unbelievably smooth for the forecast. Our start cylinder was more outside in the flat so I went for no guts no glory chance to go in the direction of first turnpoint out in the flats. With N wind flats are working, normally and I saw paragliders one hour before us with lift outside. Looooong glide with nothing to hang on to so I had to go back and start it all over lower than the first group. I cathed up with them and started quite decently but as the day got a bit better with climbs up to 2 m/s (yes that was good in the beggining) I raced a bit more and got myself in the shade low which today was a mistake. Landed before going out to the flat.
Guys who took a bit more conservative had a chance to take the climbs that where higher and actually made it to the goal with zero sun on the course.
Lots of points for the winner Christian, and really nothing for us behind. Looks like tomorrow will be another just a day race for me to feel better after stupidness I did today in my home yard :)

Anyway, looks like I trimmed the glider for our temperatures good, I was climbing very good in low lift with much more ballast than in Australia and glides where looking very promising and relaxed.

Tomorrow looks like a D day with W wind and Kovk take off.

In the evening we had a price giving ceremony from our Olympic commitee for our result in Turkey last year. It was nice to stand among so many great athletes, that dedicate their life to their sport, just like we do.

sreda, 13. marec 2013

First day of a Winter race

Well... :) Looks like the dates where set in the worst possible part of the year, but you can`t do anything while scheduling a comp half a year in advance.
I understand the decision of the organizers to try with the first dates as second possibility looks even worse. We have a chance maybe on Friday but it looks like lots of N wind. I hope there wont be pushing in to the dangerous conditions just because we want the valid race. Saturday looks great and cold. Sunday? Well Sunday it shall rain again.
I am at home, going to work in the afternoon, seems like there is no competition around for me at this time :) But, it is easy when you live here, much harder if you re stuck here waiting for the sky to open up a bit. Organizers are doing good job sending out messages over Facebook about what is happening in their minds with plans for next days. They will organize a trip for pilots to Postojnska Jama, one of touristic pearls in Slovenia.

I got one epic news yesterday from Nokia, who will provide me a new best off, Lumia 920. I need a tool like that for having this blog running like it should with great pictures and as live and fast as possible. Really looking forward to get this state of the art machine in to my hands.

I said, pictures yes, no picture from today, it is just too ugly outside to picture anything :D Fingers crossed for Friday that winds will die down a bit more than forecasted and we get two days to battle it out. Feels like piece of cake after Australia marathon flying :)

You can take a look at a live picture from camera pointing towards take off Lijak in Nova Gorica HERE

sreda, 06. marec 2013

Europe season knocking on the door

One more winter is slowly getting over again, I must say this one was quite shorter for me due to Australia trip. I was used to fly lots also in winter time, but this year snow and bad weather came also more to Nova Gorica and flying is not as good as it was for last three years since I am living here.
I took my time to trim the glider back from Australia hot 50°c. There have been some bad attempts :) but at least I know now I have the glider totally ready for Winter race that is coming here, I hope, next week. Many people are asking me about what organizers will decide but it will all come down to a decision tomorrow on Thursday. I would not like to stand in their shoes as the forecast is changing every few hours. Fingers crossed it all comes down to another decent race here in Vipava valley.
This will be a tight schedule this month with two races, another one in Bassano Del Grappa, the traditional Easter competition in Italy. I refused to pay for the competition in advance as last year they forced two days in rain to have a valid comp while I gambled a bit too much at home and lost the whole entry fee that is really expensive in Bassano.
Alan was in contact with them about refunding at least a bit of entry fee. Two answered mails and they where gone from this planet. Let us see how will they deal with that this year.

Yesterday we had an interesting day to fly. It finally turned to the west with stronger wind predicted but as we came to the landing it was all covered with high clouds already. We know how much ridge racing can W wind predict here so we knew it all should work out. We got up to climbs of 7 m/s, Davide was at 2100 m at Nanos see the picture here. I chaged my gps UTC settings after Australia to +2h which is incorrect at the moment here :) so my time to leave for work came one hour earlier than it could but still one hour of nice flying in strong conditions. Glider felt superb.

You will get all the news from both competitions here as I will be blogging with my Nokia of course.