This was predicted to be the best day yet, with climbs to over 6000’ possible in areas north and west of Szeged. Tasks were set just a bit shorter than the forecast suggested, probably because of International Night, scheduled to kick off at 7pm. Of course, a short task does not necessarily produce early finishers; more typically, it produces late starts: given a choice, pilots always seek to use the strongest part of the day.
In the event, soaring conditions, though good, did not quite match the forecast. We’ve come to expect that temperatures – and thermal heights – will fall a bit short of predictions here. The result of all this was a good task with nearly 100% completions, but not quite the blazing speeds that many expected.
The US Club class pilots chose to start late and managed to catch and pass German and French pilots, typically a commendable feat. But today the pilots to fly with – if you could manage it – would have been the British. It’s significant that they are flying the highest-performance gliders of the Club class: two ASW-20s. They clearly know how to make their flaps work, producing speeds almost 8% better than anyone else in the class.
In Standard class, the Germans would have been the ones to hang with today: they all had speeds above 100 kph and once again posted the top three scores (two of which were diminished by Hazardous Maneuver penalties). Michael Marshall had a decent run at 91 kph.
International Night is a much-anticipated event at which all teams set up tables offering food and drink intended to represent their country. The US table offered Coca-Coal and s’mores, which always seems popular and was once again. We had a small propane camp stove over which people could toast their own marshmallow, then set it on a piece of chocolate and squeeze it between two graham crackers. The ‘toast your own” feature is especially appealing – though some seem to want to eat the toasted marshmallow directly, and need to have proper s’more etiquette carefully explained. We did good business all night.
It was a good opportunity to sample food – and drink – from 18 different countries (though Hungary’s “zero tolerance” drink-driving rules put a damper on imbibing). All sorts of good food and spirits were on offer. I can’t say there were any weak participants, but I must give credit to the French team who clearly take their country’s reputation seriously, as seen in their offerings of wine, pate and cheese. France has serious rivals (though perhaps no real equals) for the first two, but when it comes to cheese, they own first place with no other country in second. Several were on offer tonight, and I can testify that they were well up to French standards.
Leigh’s connection to soaring and competition is through her husband, SZ, for whom she’s crewed for 44 years. She’s a passionate supporter of the US Teams and loves contest reporting. She currently resides in both Steamboat Springs, Co. and Greenville, SC.