31 January 2008

A bleak day

We're chilling out in the patio of the HQ of the Pre-Worlds. This fourth day was tricky for most but could almost be called disasterous for us finnish pilots.
Only minutes after the start gate was opened Jouni and Esa discussed over the radio the exact whereabouts of their landings.

I myself (Robert) meanwhile was fighting only 20 meters above the ground at the foot of a small hill. Like many others I had lost vast amounts of altitude on the way to the start and first turnpoint. This was aggravated by unnecessary wandering about in sink in the mistaken believe that the start cylinder was 3 km, like yesterday; it was only 1 km so I should have gone straight, and fast, to the turnpoint.
I managed to get up from that tiny hill but with the headwind now stronger I still did not make the turnpoint and once more had to scratch at the same hill. Now got higher and could glide to the turnpoint, one hour late. Even though I glided furiously fast back to the ridge I was low again and had for the third time to fetch a thermal from the same tiny hill. By now I knew how to get up quickly and then could continue fast to the next two turnpoints. But all alone I did not find a new thermal and landed after 29 km (see track)

Jari didn't fly today and at the time of writing we don't yet know if Ari got to goal, 73 km. Hopefully he can save the day for us!

Strong winds

Task 3 in the Pre-Worlds was a hefty 93 km long. Early after launch it was a bit more difficult than usual to get up as the southwest winds caused thermals to drift quite much. Likewise pilots encountered strong head winds in the first leg to the antennas. Here it was beneficial to be high. The legs into the plain to Lapila and back to the plateau were fairly easy but the final 33 km leg into the valley to goal was too much for most.

Our Jouni led the leading pack but stranded some 20 km before goal. Ari however did very well, he was among the first 20 in goal. At goal pilots reported 50 km winds! Jari and Robert (track) landed early in the final leg.

The competition is now halfway and the Finns now place:

Ari 10
Jouni 41
Jari 108
Robert 109
Esa 142
Finland 8

30 January 2008

Breakfast before task 3

Like every morning the Finnish team in the paragliding Pre-Worlds enjoys breakfast in a local restaurant. A meal with juices, yogurt, fruits and coffee carries a pilot a long way. Just to be sure some add a hamburger or two,

Yesterday a very different 71 km task yielded very similar results. Ari and Jouni once again made it to goal, in the top 30. Robert did 61 km and Jari only a little less. Esa improved and now flew 15 km. The Finnish team could now hold the 8th place.

In the evening I compared and analyzed some tracks and concluded that I should fly still a bit faster and above all more decisive. With that in mind we're off to the launch again!

29 January 2008

Windy day one

Pilots are dropping in here at the HQ of the Paragliding Pre-Worlds. The first task was flown in at times rather windy conditions, which caused quite some turbulence.

Finnish pilots Jouni and Ari (in the picture) flew the 73 km to goal. Jari and Robert landed after a good 50 km. Esa bombed out shortly after the start.

I lost unnecessary much height at the start and then had to struggle a long time to get across the plateau to the antennas. Later I could speed up but the last leg was completely in the shade once I, and many others, got there. After 4 hours of intensive flying everybody seems really tired...

26 January 2008

Warming up

The last two days have been an excellent warm up for the Pre-Worlds for me. Yesterday flew my new Mantra for the first time. A 2 hour flight in the turbulent Mexican air gave ample opportunity to get used to the feedback and to learn how to deal with collapses. Later had another flight in the very smooth late afternoon which gave me a chance to actually look at my new wing.
Today a flew the same task as the competitors in the Monarca Open; and after 60 km and 4 hours made goal and landed in the village!
Finnish pilots Jouni, Arska and Kasperi all made goal today. With two more days to practice we should indeed be in good shape!

23 January 2008

A long journey

My trip to Mexico started early this morning. At the airport changed into a light jacket and sandals. Here in Helsinki we now have light snow and frost but after some 20 hours I expect Mexican sun and 30 degrees. Well not quite as I wont arrive before the evening.

On the picture the ever crucial luggage tags; let's see (and hope) that this will be the first time that my glider arrives together with me at a major comp...

18 January 2008

More prep: improving a harness

After my October trip to France I noticed that one of the rings that conduct the speedbar lines had come loose from my SupAir Vamp harness. The harness is covered in neoprene and that simply seems to flexible to hold such rings just like that. A local sail maker came up with a very nice fix, as shown in the photo above. On both sides of the neoprene a circular patch of cloth holds a heavier patch in place. The heavier patch is also glued to the neoprene. A new ring was then put into this sandwich. The circular patches should not affect the movement of the neoprene and hence not impact the streamlined shape of the harness. This turned out to be quite a bit of work so the sailmaker didn't fix the ring on the other side (which hasn't come loose yet) but gave me a DIY kit instead.

Last week I had a change to test the fix, as well as my new leg fairing, on a couple of flights. And yes it all seems to work fine. And flying with my legs "inside" felt very comfortable indeed. But I have not yet found the ideal setup for my instrument deck yet.
After a lot of trouble with a broken car engine I finally came home from France, almost a week later than planned. Nevertheless, after obtaining some crucial insurance statements today it looks like I'm getting ready for the Pre-Worlds now....

The first group of Finns should be in Mexico now to participate in the preceding Monarca Open and we're eagerly awaiting for their first reports.