July 5, 2009

The End

The contest is all over now and we are presently in Helsinki, ready to leave tomorrow morning. The last day we had a 2 and a half hour AAT. Nathan and I decided to start early today to avoid the showers that were predicted and also so we could be home early for the party. We thought that it was a very good decision at the end of the flight because the sky became completely overcast and only very weak lift. We expected many outlandings but the weather recycled and almost everyone made it home with good speeds. I finished 34th overall which I am a bit dissapointed with but I had a good time and learnt a lot. My third day error cost me a lot of points. The top finishers flew in teams with the exception of second place finisher CI from Lithuania. I congratulate all of the pilots in the contest on their excellent flying throughout.

End of Contest Award Ceremony

When we arrived at the airfield this morning there were a lot of weary faces from the strain of last night's end of contest party. Team captains were rounding up their pilots for the awards ceremony, many pilots including ours didn't make it back to their own beds.

The weather has turned markedly cooler and sweaters and jackets were required by the less hardier types like myself. The awards ceremony was held at just the right time as less than half an hour after it ended rain had set in. We are in Helsinki at the Radisson downtown and are going to make a small tourist excursion and dinner tonight before we start our return journey tomorrow morning at 6:00am.




July 4, 2009

DAY 9 Last Day

Yesterday's rest was welcomed by most and particularly by those needing to do the minor repairs and clean up jobs that are an inevitable result when you land approximately 40 gliders in farmers fields. There are airfields but not as numerous and closely spaced as we are used to in North America. Another shock when you land at an airfield is that tow retrieve rates at the contest are 220 Euros/hr.

While waiting for briefing to start we were entertained by Harry Sundström the president of Räyskälä Foundation on guitar and US crew member David Bargainnier on harmonica. Their impromptu jam was greeted with warm applause as was a later announcement of 2 euro beer for happy hour at 19:00.

The weather has turned a lot cooler and we again have cloud cover over much of Finland. A clear weather hole developing over the contest site and a 282km nominal distance AAT task has been set for both classes, the only difference is the start line locations.


The clear hole disappeared shortly after the start line opened it is now completely overcast. Chris and Nathan KS were the first to start and we have just heard them discussing going on or making for home. It seems last minute heroics is not on their agenda and they are not concerned about ending the task early. We expect to hear them calling a finish any minute.

July 3, 2009


The cell phone did ring and Chris was down about 30km away with Devin AY of the US team. It was a relatively simple retrieve but once more we had to derig the gliders and carry them out, two crews made it easier getting over the ditch between the road and the field. We arrived back at the airport at 20:40 as some Standard Class gliders were landing from their 550km task. The last reported landing was at 21:40, the longest flight reported was nine and a half hours and the last trailer home arrived at 2:00 this morning. Some pilots and crews will be relieved that today has been cancelled. We rigged the glider and Lynne and Chris are hosing off the dust as I write.

July 2, 2009

DAY 8 17:00

Trailers are starting to leave to pick up the earlier landouts. News we have garnered from crews in touch with their pilots is that many are down to five hundred feet near the second turnpoint. There is still a lot of task to fly but on the plus side if conditions pick up the days are long and nine o'clock finishes are common. Lynne keeps asking me if my cell phone is turned on.

No tourists and no postcards

For those of you readers who are expecting a postcard from us, you will likely be disappointed. We are not in a tourist area, so there seems to be a lack of postcards. I’ve asked about postcards, but I have not found a local source. As there has been flying almost every day, we have not had the opportunity to go to a larger town or to a coastal resort that would have postcards.

We have not seen many foreign licence plates on the cars on the roads (of course excepting those at the gliding field). There are cottages to rent around here, but it seems that it is Finnish people who normally visit this area as our cottage only has instructions in Finnish – usually you find English instructions when you travel. We have found TV programs in English (with Finnish sub-titles) so we can watch something when we arrived home tired. Fishing from the dock by our cottage is better than the TV – we have not caught anything else yet – we probably need to go out in the boat again. It is pleasant to stand on the dock dipping the line, enjoying the scenery and watching the sun trying to set in the never-ending daylight.


Alcohol Killer a drink in cans is available at the
Sika Saloon in the briefing hangar, open for business at 9:00a.m.

Sunny and warm but uncertain weather. We will have two racing tasks, taskB is a bit shorter and does not reach as far east to avoid showers associated with a cold front which is due to pass through this evening and tomorrow. we are on the back of the grid today and first launch is not scheduled until 11:30 and in reality will probably not take place until after noon.

Highlights at briefing, more gaggle flying safety discussion with SeeYou playback of a near miss. Karaoke night tonight, they don't have our music so fortunately for all concerned we will not be able to perform.

After briefing the task set for Club Class is a 344km assigned task Standard is flying 556km. Contest Director Silve mentioned he wanted to keep to racing tasks rather than distance and endurance! TK and KS started at 14:16 and we also heard Corey and Devin of team USA starting at the same time but not necessarily from the same spot. The start line is 10km long and has been set to as much as 20km when both classes used the same line.

July 1, 2009

Day 7

We had an AAT of 2 and a half hours. Nathan and I were one of the first starters today leaving a big gaggle at the start line. The first leg was blue and very difficult. We met up with some standard class pilots who were as low as us. We had a good laugh watching them dump their water in front of us. We found a thermal with one of the standard class guys but he left just before it finally picked up. We had a good laugh about that as well. We got to some clouds on the second leg but they were broken and not working very well. They finally picked up and we had a good run most of the way home. When we got to the end of the clouds about 20km out we had to take some weak climbs to get final glide.


Pilot briefing has been delayed today until 10:30 because of the uncertain weather. At the team captains' briefing this morning we received a stern talk about aggressive thermalling and tight final glides over the 15-30 metre high Finnish grass. Contest Director Silve explained 15-30metre high grass in Finland is what we would call forest.

Weatherman Janne explained that although the models did not predict soaring possibilities the holes in the top cover suggested we may have a chance to fly. The task delivered at the grid for Club Class is a 2.5 hr AAT nominal 268km, min 175 and max 375. Chris and Nathan KS started at 14:13 from the top of a gaggle after debating the merits of being first to start. Last transmissions suggested conditions were not as bad as they seemed at launch time. It is sunny and warm and we might just get time for a dip in the lake before the anticipated finishes around 17:00.

The terrace at Café 26

Last minute makeup!!???

The long grind to start altitude