June 30, 2009
I think that the lake is a little cool for swimming – 19 C, but the Finnish think that is warm!
Yesterday Chris produced a result more consistent with first two contest days and the practice days. Out landings penalties, warnings and airspace incursions by other competitors contributed to his improved total standing.
The tasks took a long time getting started with the last launch in club class rolling at 13:16. Large gaggles drifting towards the start gate, standard class were dropping water in preparation for the big grind ahead. Earlier the sky was punctuated with the odd cumulus but now at 14:45 there is high cirrus cover and blue thermals to around 4,000 ft. It looks like it could be tough going.
June 29, 2009
Although English is the main language members of different countries communicate in, I have been in a few situations when another language was more useful in making a clearer communication. Just this morning I was talking with one of the French crew members and after establishing Yannick lived in Strassboug to his amusement and delight we carried on our conversation in German.
Someone seems to have taken a fancy to our flag as it has gone missing from the flag pole, I have brought a spare ensign to reestablish our presence on the flag line. I guess we should be pleased someone felt the Canadian flag is unique or valuable enough to steal. Of course it might just be that the flags were purchased on the government's best price criteria from a far east supplier and that the grommets didn't hold when a front went through a few nights ago.
We have two tasks today to the west in anticipation of weather problems in the east. Task A is a 320km assigned task and Task B is a 3.50hr area task 259-575km, both tasks are squeezed in between the opposing terminal airspace areas west of Tampere. At 11:05 I was summoned to a Team Captain's meeting at the front of the grid. The standard Class are being moved to another runway because we have a slight tailwind component and we have received confirmation we are flying the assigned task A. First launch is scheduled at 12:15.
At this moment David Bargainnier father of Devin of the USA team is adding a bit of big city flavour to the warm summer weather on the ouside terrace of Café 26 with renditions of familiar tunes on his harmonica.
It is 5:15 a few landouts have been reported we are getting ready just in case as cmost of the pilots are in the same area about 30 to 40 km from the finish. Re the contest finishing Friday or Saturday that has been updated we will fly Saturday if it is flyable.
June 28, 2009
Sniffers at 11:00
At the front of the grid
June 27, 2009
It is just past 11:00 and the day has been canceled. After that the weather looks good for a number of days.
June 26, 2009
The long days of flying are also amazing – the contest has lucked into some great soaring weather at the moment. Chris and Andy sat through many days of rain and cold before the contest, so they are appreciating this weather. We get up early for us (we are all night owls not early risers), are rigged by 9, team captains meeting at 9, pilots meeting at 9:30, gridding closes at 11 and first launch at 11:15 to 11:30. The flights are long, so the finishes have not been coming until around 6 and there have been landings as late as 8. After de-rigging, we have a beer and post the blog, leave for dinner and then its bedtime!
Most of the junior pilots are flying longer tasks than they have ever flown and at faster speeds, so are experiencing many personal bests. It is interesting to overhear them chatter about their accomplishments. It is a pleasure to be here and see these young pilots fly so well.
Briefing this morning was opened with another great piece of video from Hubertus W. Huvermann, view the videos from the Pics&Stories tab on the contest site. Hubi nearly made his last film today. I backed into him when leaving the grid and knocked him over. Fortunately he recovered quickly and assured me there was no lasting damage but I took him to the accident and first aid team to make sure.
Finishes today will be on the same runway but the contest director has ordered unofficial photographers to stay away. you will need toview the photos on Pics&Stories.
The tracking software has new links:
Google Map or Google Earth
June 25, 2009
At the end of the first day there were a lot of tired faces and early nights to prepare for today's task offering. Chris's day went well yesterday but his decision to fly the clouds to skirting a blue hole did not work out and he ended up having to accept less than optimal lift to stay in the game, much the same as the guys who went through the blue. The earlier pilots had a bit less trouble which increased their separation and points.
The weather continues under the influence of a large high pressure region rendering a good looking sky with flatter cumulus and has illiminated the chance of spreadout which has been a factor in the past four days. The temperature is also a comfortable 23-25°C so the lake by the saunas is beckoning.
The task today is 50km shorter for each class, Club Class will fly 480.7km. If you have been looking at the task maps you will notice the usual zig zaggy affair with long legs east and west. All of Finland is restricted airspace. The last page of the following pdf file airspace illustrates the restricted airspace sectors. Each day airspace sectors are opened up for glider flying and the pilots have to take particular regard for the ceilings as they cross into a new sector. The grey areas are no fly zones so you will see the reason for the long east west legs and the minimal turns to the north and south.
It is 15:00 local time and the tracker equipped aircraft are in the area around the first turnpoint. We will check in again when they get closer to home.
June 24, 2009
The task today is 531km
Chris has been underway about an hour and the tracker has him in the area of the first turnpoint.
The task looked a little ambitious at launch time but conditions seem to have improved and we are hopeful the day will not end in retrieve.
The grid from our position 111 near the back.
From the tracker we can see Chris is round the second turnpoint and about 300+ km into the task, progress to date would indicate a finish between 19:00 and 20:00, sky does not look too bad in the area they are flying.
The landscape reminds me of Muskoka or Haliburton – pine trees and white/silver birch trees and lakes. The lakes have swans on them, not loons. The terrain is flatter than Canada and there are more farmers’ fields, but no granite rocks. Road signs warn of moose crossing the road, so we do find many things familiar. Andy and I went fishing last night and we managed to catch a pike, but that was after we tipped the boat while retrieving a lure, nearly fell in, took water on board and had wet bottoms!
Chris and Andy seemed to be organized and ready for the contest. Chris had good flights on the first and second practice days, and is off on the first real day as I write this. It’s a long task, 531 km, but the sky looks good.
June 23, 2009
Google Earth http://www.spot-tracking.com/files/jwtracking.kml
Tracking does not work in Windows Explorer you will need to download a copy of Mozilla Firefox to view the tracking.
The opening day task we have been warned will likely be a long one with grid opening at 8:00am and tasks ready for pick up at 8:30. There will be a short opening ceremony before briefing tomorrow morning and launching is planned for 11:00.
June 20, 2009
The airport at Räyskälä was buzzing last night. Most if not all the teams have arrived and last night marked the start of the Finnish mid summer festival. This celebration started at 13:00 sharp, until Monday corner gas stations are one of the few places to buy forgotten supplies of staples like milk and more important beer. Since our arrival the weather has only cooperated sporadically and the start of mid summer festival failed to coax the sun out from behind the pouring rain and clouds. However at 22:40 when we set out to join the festivities at the airport it had started to dry out and the night light did not look too different from the light of the morning 12 hours before. Along the normally quiet route to the airport we had to negotiate parked cars and crowds of people making their way to the bonfires that were burning along the shores of the numerous lakes. When we arrived at the briefing hangar the newly constructed bar was conducting a brisk trade. We immediately ran into our friends from team USA and team Australia and got to know some of the British team who are our neighbours at the cottages we are all staying at. Shortly before midnight everyone trekked out to the centre of the airport to gather around a huge bonfire, members of various teams gathered around the bonfire attempted to catch a small rabbit that seemed to be drawn to the flames. No matter how many attempts were made to apprehend it the rabbit would escape into the bush and shortly after make its way back to the edge of the fire.
Räyskälä (pronounced Rouse - as in house – Kala) is home to about 1,000 glider pilots, power pilots and parachutists. There are over 150 trailers in the trailer park and the airport restaurant Café 26 is also the main information hub. There are a number of TV screens that show current satellite, weather and airspace information and high speed internet is also available. The other popular meeting places are the saunas in the campground. I have been told flights are sometimes cut short to make the 6:00 pm sauna.
The flying prospects don’t look too good until Sunday but we have been promised an improvement by the weatherman and we are expecting some reasonable conditions for the start of the contest. We still have a few last minute weighing issues to deal with to get the handicap corrected. From Sunday we should be ready for the main event which starts Wednesday, June 24. During the contest I will try to report the events as they unfold and I will publish the Spot Messenger URL for those that would like to track the contest live.
June 18, 2009
The next two days promise more rain so we will be into the Main event practise period before we see any more flying.
June 17, 2009
June 16, 2009
June 13, 2009
Yesterday I flew my first cross-country flight here in Finland. The cloudbase was low at the start of the day but there were cloudstreets and some strong lift. I first headed east into wind about 60km and then came back to the airport and went 40km downwind to the west. On the way back the clouds started over developing and I had to land off field. It was a nice big field and there were no problems with landing. The farmer was worried about his crop being damaged so we had to carry the glider out piece by piece. Other than getting a bit tired it went okay. Today we cleaned the dirt off the wheel and wingtips. I also entered in a small contest that is being run out of Rayskala called Jannen Kisat. The first day is today but it was called off due to weather. Tomorrow looks like thunderstorms but by Monday it should improve. Friday flight
June 10, 2009
We arrived Saturday in Finland and Timo, the fellow we are renting our glider from picked us up at the airport. On Sunday we went shopping for some food and had a quick look at the glider. Monday we started changing over the instruments. The weather was quite good and I got in a short flight at the end of the day. I had one thermal peaking at 9 knots. The PZL vario that came with the glider worked fine but the Sage did not. We installed a new capacity bottle for the Sage today and did some work on the battery circuit. Hopefully everything should be working by the time the weather picks up again.