Today looked like a good day, we got a 187km task via one TP. The forecast was for some clouds and base at around 2200 meters.
We all set up at the airstrip, and got ready to go. The towing did not go very fast, and my line seemed to be the slowest one. Olav Lien was 2 gliders in front of me. As we slowly moved forward towards the takeoff line a dustdevil started forming just in front of us. Within a second it was huge and picked up a Nic that was lying down on the dolly ready to go. He was lucky and had the dolly runners to help him and hold him down, but when the dustdevil came to us there was no one to help.
We were all clipped in and ready to go, and got slammed around pretty good. The American pilot in front of me was lifted a meter up, and dumped down on his back 6-7 meters away from where he stood. Olav was flipped over on his back, and broke one upright on the glider. I managed to hold the glider down on the nose for a while, but eventually was flipped over on the back. The Australian pilot behind me also got flipped over, and his leading edge hit my glider and broke my outboard leadingedge, sprog, and one batten. The broken sprog also made a nice hole in the undersurface, in addition to the scars in the leadingedge from flipping over. My instrument mount was also cracked, but I might be able to fix that with some epoxy.
A total of 6 gliders were damaged. I do not know if we get the parts yet. In addition to the carnage caused by the dustdevil, one Russian pilot tumbled on his Combat while thermalling up over the airfiled, and came down under rescue chute. Another pilot flipped over on the dolly under takeoff and had to be airlifted out to hospital. He’s was not badly injured as far as I know.
I gave one of my uprights to Olav so he could fly, and he took off again later, but I do not know if he attempted the task yet. He was at least 1:30 behind the last start time.
So not a good start on this competition for me, I could not fly the task, and need lots of repairs to my glider. There was nothing we could do to avoid the dustdevil, but it’s a bit silly to have to stay in the line hooked in for a long time in these conditions. We should be able to tie down the gliders, and just go straight into the takeoff line to minimize the risk of dustdevils.