03 June 2008

Clouds against the clock

Update: managed to upload my tracks, day 1 (task canceled), and day 2 (61st place). The results for day 2 are also online now.

The first two days at the British Open were all about timing. Yesterday the launch was clouded in early but it looked like it would open up later. And indeed after a long wait a task was set and the window opened at 15:45. It was easy enough to stay up and to make the start and soon a small group of pilots led in front of a larger group. However just when the leaders were about to start their final glide it was clear that it was raining heavenly in the goal area. From a very ugly looking huge black cloud. So the task was wisely stopped and everybody had to land as soon as possible. As nobody had made goal yet the day was unfortunately invalid.
I was in the large group, we all landed some 10 km before the goal. That was the beginning of another long wait, as the organization had some problems with the retrieval system. But in the end we all came home fine.

This morning we were welcomed by a beautiful sunny sky. Much nicer to wait at launch in the sun, as opposed to could windy fog. The clouds were also clearly higher and we could launch much earlier, the window was opened at 13:45. Launching was a bit difficult for some as there were only brief periods with a clear headwind. I myself was luckily to get off the hill amongst the first dozen or so. At the actual start time of 14:30 most of use were close to cloudbase at 2100m and started to race to the first turnpoint, some 17 km to the South. Some brave, and better, pilots went for a very long glide and got low. But this fast opening was clever as only those were in time to make the goal before the clouds again won the day, and caused shadows and even rain.
I flew quite fast up to turnpoint 2, but around there made the mistake to not use a decent thermal but pushed further. The promising area I'd targetted wasn't as good as I'd expected so I lost valuable time when climbing up slowly again. In the end I just made the 3rd turnpoint for a 58 km distance, some 14 km from the goal. I landed in the rain, and the complete final leg was in the shade; many pilots landed between turnpoint 3 and the goal. Luckily the rain stopped while I packed up so I could walk and hitchhike in the sun. Today the retrieve system worked well, but I was happy to get a ride from a very nice local person that took along 2 more pilots a bit further down the road. Thank you! Back home I enjoyed dinner with the Dutch team, who had 2 pilots in goal today.

See Tom's post for a report from the leaders point of view and some good pictures.

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