Morning weather today was the same cold, low overcast of yesterday, making prospects for the first scheduled competition day look dubious. The 10:00 pilot briefing was postponed to 11:15 and the first launch to 13:00, adding to the general pessimism. But by noon sun was breaking through the clouds and we wound up with a fairly good (though late-starting) soaring day.
In Club class, Sarah got off to a dodgy start and found herself quite low on the second leg. After a suitable struggle she was able to climb out and made reasonable progress around the rest of the task, finishing 16th for the day. Despite high clouds and occasionally good climbs, it proved to be a slow day – the Club Class winning speed was below 70 kph.
The Zbraslavice task area is considerably constrained by airspace restrictions. Despite a vast set of turnpoints – nearly 500 in all – that covers the entire Czech Republic (and indeed extends a short distance into Germany to the west and Austria to the south) it’s not legally possible to fly a glider west, north or east more than a few kilometers. Our tasks will thus principally use the quadrant from southeast to southwest of home. Even this area has plenty of military-use airspace that can at times be closed to gliders.
Thus, pretty much all flying will be over scenic rolling hills dotted with a more or less adequate number of agricultural fields (not a few of which are sloped and thus a bit tricky for an outlanding). The most prominent crop is canola (aka rapeseed), which features flowers of an intense yellow. The bright yellow fields tinged with green from the stalks are visually striking. Unfortunately, their beauty is only superficial, especially to a glider pilot. The stalks are not tall but are very tough, making these fields a poor choice for an outlanding (groundloop likely). This crop is said to be on the increase because canola oil can be added to diesel fuel and farmers earn a subsidy for it. It thus takes land away from food crops, raising prices.
Wires are plentiful, and they unfortunately came into play yesterday: during an outlanding Sue Kussbach of Germany reportedly avoided two sets of wires but was surprised by a third. She apparently dodged those as well, but the result was a very hard landing that damaged her LS-8 and put her in hospital for examination. The latest reports say she suffered no serious injury and should soon be back among us. But her glider probably faces intensive care and a long recovery.