Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the Fly, Days 9-10

Day 9 was a day of long distances and fast speeds. Germany’s Open Class Michael Sommer’s (EB) speed of 157 kph (97.5 mph) was the third fastest of the contest. On Day 5, Mr. Sommer flew the second fastest race of the contest with 159.2 kph (98.09). But the top speed of the competition thus far is that of Open Class pilot Peter Harvey of Great Britain (CA), at 161 kph on Day 7, or 100 mph. Conditions have also allowed several long distance days. Two days included tasks over 700 km, four over 600 km, and one over 500 km. Only two days have been called under 500 km.

Speeds and distances like these are what have endeared Uvalde to Americans and made it legendary in Europe. The first glider competition I attended was the 1999 WGC in Bayreuth, Germany. When Europeans found out I was from Austin, Texas, the first question they asked was, “Is that anywhere near Uvalde?”

At the beginning of Day 10, Germany remains in first place in the Team Cup Competition with 8243 points; Great Britain is second at 8202, and Poland is third with 8194. Organizers calculate the team cup points by averaging all scores of all pilots flying for a given country, accumulated to this point.

Although there were some exceptionally good moments on Day 9, it was also a day full of holes into which one could step. Day 10 is forecast to be windy, dry, and blue. Windy it is: while one of the line crew amused himself by jumping on a pogo stick, a pilot observed that his vertical jumps were not much higher than those of the wingtips bouncing in the breeze. It is windy enough on the ground to shroud the grid in a continuous cloud of dust, but some pilots familiar with the area question whether it will be as blue as forecast. All three tasks are fraught with danger, as they all approach or in some cases overlap restricted or forbidden air space.

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