Today’s forecast: more of the same very good soaring weather, with some chance that the day would die a bit early. When a contest in Europe achieves a Uvalde-like 11 of 13 possible task days (with a 12th likely tomorrow), you have to call it notable.
Prior to the launch, a big event today was the group photo: all pilots, crews, officials and others assembled in front of the grid, with towplanes and gridded gliders parked behind. Judging by the photos on the wall of the clubhouse this is a tradition here, and the club even owns a special wheeled scaffold that gives the photographer the right elevated view. A number of these pictures feature the pilots supporting an assembled glider over their heads – but that was not done today (it may be challenging to find an owner willing to donate a glider to this artistic cause).
The Club Class had a long assigned task, and Sarah made fairly good use of it. She started just a bit late and caught a couple of gaggles. Despite high climbs and decent cumulus, progress was not impressively fast, and as the gliders reached the final turnpoint well south of home, it was a question whether conditions would hold long enough for all to reach home. Sarah arrived at a point about 20km from home, needing a final climb to reach the finish: she found it, took it slightly higher than absolutely necessary, and finished comfortably, in 7th place, with 933 points.
Her climb was one of last good ones. Gliders behind her struggled to reach a safe final glide altitude, which was higher than normal today, due to wings much contaminated with bugs (see below). A number that were able to finish couldn’t reach the airfield, and wound up it was is being called “Sarah’s field” – the one located about 2km from home, which she has used twice.
Several pilots “missed the last bus,” failing to find the final climb that would put the finish ring within reach. Sadly, one of these was Ailsa McMillan, who was standing first, and whom I praised in yesterday’s report (it’s the “commentator’s curse”). Her outlanding drops her to 4th overall, but I withdraw none of my praise: she is clearly an excellent pilot, liked by all, smart beyond her years and experience, and has a bright future in our sport.
Before securing the glider for the evening, the first job is to clean the wings of smashed bugs. These have been only moderately bad at WWGC2017 but were shockingly bad today – perhaps three times as numerous as the worst prior day. Some gliders carry “bug wipers” (devices that can be deployed to scrape a wire across the wing’s leading edge, then reeled in to await another cycle). They haven’t been much needed so far, but today would have been of real value.
The Hotel Hubert evacuation due to the upcoming wedding is now complete. A bunch of pilots and crews (unfortunately, despite information to the contrary, Sarah was included) were moved to alternate accommodations, about 8 km from the airfield. We didn’t know quite what to expect, but surely no one was hoping for anything as grand as what we got: a sort of modern “castle-like” complex of buildings, said to be the property of a large Czech timber-products company. It features extremely pleasant large private rooms and beautiful grounds (picture elegant stone walkways, brass sculptures, grand chestnut trees, and Reeves pheasants ambling about). So the move was a nuisance, but we “landed on our feet”.