US Nationals, day 8 and 9

We got another really good day with forecastet weak winds and good lift. The task was a 109km triangle, start time 13:30. The rigids started 15 muntes before us, and then the flex start was delayed 45 minuted because of no clouds and weak lift. Once we got underway it was really nice clouds developing, I towed up in the middle of the field, and got to the edge of the start circle in time to hang around cludbase for 30 minutes cooling off with Jon and Olav. At the first start gate many pilots went ahead on course, but we stayed behind with about 20 others for the second start gate. It would be tactical to have many pilots ahead to mark lift for us.

We glided out to take the first TP, I went left with Nene Rotor ahead of me and Andreas Ohlsson to the right. I saw Jon under me, going on glide more to the right of Andreas, that would be the last I saw of him on course. We glided back to north of Groveland, where Andreas stopped and started turning in a nice 4 m/s thermal. Nene had gone more right and missed the good lift. From cloudbase we went on glide under the clouds getting a good line and periods of good lift. We glided more than 30 km before stopping again at 600 meters over a small bushfire just before the last TP. The lift here was a little slower, but from cloudbase we glided out to take the TP and back again to the same thermal. I lost Andreas there, and stopped to take the lift with Markel and Johnny Jr. It was a little too weak, and I went on final glide knowing I needed more height for a fast glide. I hit some lift halfway, and got in to goal with 50 meters to spare after going really fast at the end. It was strong lift all the way in. Olav Opsanger reported hitting the convergence from the seabreeze, and he came in 3-400 meters too high, spending 15 minutes getting down.

It was a good and fast run, I only lost a little time before the final glide. I flew the course in 2:02, and got 10. place for the day, it was a really fun day with a great task. Olav Opsanger and Jon made it in with good times too, Olav Lien landed at the last TP.

As I was packing up my harness I hear the unmistakable sound of a hangglider crashing into the ground at high speed. I saw Chris Muller’s white RedBull WillsWing T2 flat on the ground and people running over to him. We had been flying close together while we were waiting for the startgate under a cloud, enjoying the nice air. The ambulance arrived quickly and he was airlifted out with a helicopter. Later we heard he died at the hospital. I feel so sorry for his family and friends.

In the last three international comps I’ve been to, one pilot has died each time. The odds seems to be set at 1:100. This sucks…

Today was cancelled, it’s thunder and rain outside now, we are packing up gliders. Hope it clears up so I can get some more hours in the tug.

Oleg won the comp, Olav 17, Jon 18, me 23, Olav Lien 59. Full results are available at