Tuesday, August 7, 2012

30 July 2011
Uvalde is Ready
Gena Tabery, SS crew

Those of us who have been to coming to Uvalde for years (if not decades) appreciate how much effort has gone into readying the airport and surrounding grounds for this World Championship. The tie-down field, which often vacillates between dust bowl and mud pit, is green, with more grass than stickers, few mesquite thorns, and ant mounds clearly flagged. There is ample room in the tie-down area for open class ships, who often have trouble maneuvering their big wings around other gliders and trailers. And next to the road, under neatly trimmed mesquite trees, are hopeful wooden picnic tables.

While most teams are split according to class, within class, country pilots are grouped together. Several have put up large tents, where crew can hang out in the shade during the heat of the day, next to the empty trailers. French, German, and Belgian crew have been spotted floating in hotel swimming pools in daring bathing suits, while U.S., South African, and Australian crew, for whom the sun is not a novelty, tend to head for their electronic devices in darkened, air-conditioned hotel rooms.

Hotels are struggling to accommodate the soaring visitors, who operate according to a different schedule. Many prefer to ready their ships by the dawn’s early light, which makes breakfast problematic. The hotel breakfast is not ready before pilots and crews leave at 6:30, but then again, what is available is gone before they return. And the food: it seems Europeans prefer yogurt, fruit, granola, and wheat bread to bacon, eggs, and waffles. The hotel manager says, “I am ordering ten extra crates of yogurt and fruit. You guys are, like, healthy.” To which the French crew member replies, “We are all sportif.”

Many Uvalde citizens have opened their homes to competitors, who are enjoying their inside peaks at truly Texas houses. Last night we saw one such group—pilot and family alongside local family—having their pictures taken together at a local steakhouse called “Lunker’s.” On the wall above them, the flat screen television showed beach volleyball players competing at the London Olympics, complaining of the cold. No such complaints will be heard here, at this World Championship.

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