A difficult and eventful day today. At the morning pilot briefing, we were told to expect the best weather of the contest – and when the tasks were displayed, we learned we’d need it: both classes were given assigned tasks just over 500 km. It was also clear that we’d need some luck, as an overcast area in the Alps well west of Szeged was forecast to spin off high cloud into Hungary by mid-afternoon. Leaving out this uncertainty, pilots were told to expect good lift to over 7000’ – easily the best since the start of competition.
Unfortunately, even before launch time satellite loops showed the high cloud marching steadily eastward. It began to affect the western part of the task area before pilots started, and after an hour or so on task, afternoon forecasts and the achieved rate of cross-country progress made it clear that something unusual would be needed to allow many task completions in either class.
The necessary miracle did not materialize, with the result that every pilot outlanded today. This was particularly frustrating for US Club class pilots, as they unquestionably had a great flight going. They started in the middle of the pack and steadily overhauled everyone ahead, eventually building up an advantage of something like 20 minutes. It was looking like they were headed for excellent speeds and scores. But when no one gets home, no speed points are awarded, so the scoresheet shows what amounts to a big tie, with less than 100 points of difference between first and 25thplace.
80 outlandings and trailer retrieves ought to produce some interesting tales, many of which I’m sure we’ll hear tomorrow. All US pilots landed in first-rate fields and our retrieves went smoothly (other than the case of one well-known 1-26 pilot – who shall remain nameless – reporting his landing coordinates incorrectly; before dispatching his crew to the northwest coast of Greece, we re-checked the position and found he was in fact about 45 km northwest of Szeged).
J.P Stewart and Noah Reitter landed in a good – but sandy – field near the final turnpoint. Retrieving a glider from a soft field with a 2-wheel-drive car can be fraught, though not when the field in question is owned by Andras Borcsok – among the friendliest farmers in all of Hungary – who managed the job in record time with his tractor. Along with most of the Standard class, Michael Marshall landed well northeast of Szeged. But despite a long-ish drive, his retrieve also went well.
An airfield event scheduled for this evening was a performance by a troupe of fire jugglers. I’m sure this would have been most entertaining, but I fear it will not have been nearly as well attended as such a performance deserves: Many trailers would have still been on the road, and many pilots back from 7+ hours of flying and long retrieves would likely have found bed more appealing.
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.