Greifenburg, Day 7

Finally the winds died down and we got a good day for flying. We got up quite early and set up among the rest of the pilots at takeoff. It was quite crowded, but plenty of space compared to during the German open. We got a 133 km task from Manfred, with a 3 km startcylinder 12 km east on the ridge, 13:15 start time, then SW with 2 valley crossings and back to goal at the camping.

As I got ready to take off conditions shut down when a cloud shaded the takeoff area, I moved to the side and let a few other pilots out. I had earlier bombed out twice because of shading, and did not want a repeat even if the conditions looked much better than the days before. As Olav and Marcus started climbing I took off and flew over to them on the left side. It was a little work a first and we had to fly quite far out from the terrain to get a nice 3 m/s core up to 3000 meters. I joined up with Marcus at cloudbase and we glided east to the start gate. I was there first, and had to hang around cloudbase for nearly 40 minutes before the start, I was glad I had put on a extra sweater under my Skyline flightsuit as it was kinda cold at over 3000 meters. After a while the rest of the pilots joined us at cloudbase, and all of us took the race start at 13:15.

I could spot some paragliders climbing good over takeoff and flew back west there in a straight line, just utilizing the clouds to get a good line. I could spot Olav and Arnt heading into the mountains, but I thought it did not look that good to be worth the risk. Later it turned out they had to glide back out again when it was not working. Over takeoff I found a nice core again and got up to 2600, when it became weaker I remember some of the advice from Manfred and moved on instead of loosing time. I was rewarded with another good climb to cloudbase at the next peak, and could look down on the rest of the field struggling 1000 meters below me. Manfred was down there marking the lift and giving some advice over the radio.

From the next ridge we had to make a long crossing over to the hills behind Lienz, I spotted some good clouds and got a OK line going there. Arriving at the lower hills I quickly got up to 2500 again, but had to search for the next cycle to get up to cloudbase before the next crossing. Going low from this point would mean a early landing for sure. As I left on glide from cloudbase I could see Olav, Arnt and Marcus climbing with Manfred under me.

Arriving quite low at the other side of the valley I went into the leeside under some ragged clouds, it was strong, shitty and turbulent lift there and I had to fight very hard to stay and get up. The place is called “Mad woman hill”, I can understand why :-)

Getting up to cloudbase again it was easy going to the TP, the view in to the Dolomites was fantastic in the crystal clear air. I took the TP at 2500 meters and got a good 4 m/s climb after gliding some 6-7 km back again. Manfred came gliding towards the TP and asked over the radio if we should fly sightseeing into the Dolomites. I declined as I got quite tired in the leeside after the crossing and it would mean 1-2 hours extra flying time to get back.

I made my first big mistake crossing back from the “Mad woman” again, aiming too far away from the working clouds after the first crossing. I slowly sunk lower and lower on the ridge, getting worried I would have to land at Lienz. Finally I found a weak thermal and stuck with it until I could fly in under the clouds to the west again, I spotted Marcus and Manfred climbing and got up with them again. The next crossing was OK, with a stop halfway to tank up a few hundred meters to make sure I had plenty of height on the last ridge. It worked really well there with nice clouds on the north side, I just flew straight starting my final glide 24km out, climbing from 2400 to 3200 meters. It was turbulent over the hills, and I flew out in the valley so I could keep up the speed. Manfred joined me on the glide, flying with the brakes on the Swift to have the same glide as a hangglider. Marcus came into goal 10 minutes later. Olav and Arnt landed 20 and 25km out, Leigh and Phil near the second TP, and Duncan had problems after the start gate and landed at the camping.

Great finish to an interesting week, I just wish we could have had some more days like the last. But that is hanggliding, no control over the weather.

Driving home was uneventful except from the massive thunderstorms over Northern Germany, it was huge and powerful storms for 500 km.