Another struggle with weather today, this time moderately successful. Wind was forecast to be a big issue: it would be southwest and strong all day. Tasks had all classes headed southwest into Poland, on the theory that lift streets aligned with the wind would allow decent progress.
They did – for some. The long slog into wind was a struggle for nearly everyone. Those who got even a little slow found less help heading home than they really needed, due to declining wind and lift. In Standard Class, just over half the class was able to finish before the day died (around 6:30). In Club Class, only three pilots finished; a substantial number came to earth on the difficult first leg, which for many meant long retrieves from Poland. Even in the high-performance 20-Meter class, only about half the pilots got home without using their engines.
I added to my trailer retrieve experience by fetching Bob Fletcher from an outlanding just 5km from the finish (he had the best distance of the non-finishers in Standard Class). Due to limited bridges across the Nemunas River (which meanders through this area) the drive is not direct, but I was there in about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, things did not go smoothly.
Bob had landed in a field belonging to a small farm. As I drove in, the elderly woman who owns the farm was preparing to milk her half-dozen cows. She hadn’t seen the glider, and was not pleased to see a van and trailer on the dirt road approaching her house (she apparently felt this had upset the cows, though they seemed little troubled to us). Language was a problem. Bob was able to get several speakers of Lithuanian on his phone to talk to her, but she couldn’t grasp the concept of a glider, and wouldn’t budge from her position that it simply wasn’t reasonable to be driving across her private property. She clearly felt that with enough words, spoken loudly enough, she could overcome any language comprehension issues on our part (she was correct).
She eventually went off to attend to the cows and we were able to get two younger men (which we took to be her sons) to follow us about 50 yards to a point where the glider was actually visible. Light dawned, they grasped the purpose of the giant trailer, and instantly became willing to cooperate with the retrieve. All was now well, and we rolled out about 20 minutes later.
I’m not sure how often such experiences have been encountered here, but with a large number of outlandings, it must have been more than a few. The language is a barrier: it seems that few Lithuanians – especially those older than about 25 – speak anything other than their native language, of which few foreigners will understand more than a couple of words. Even in modestly touristed places, it’s common that restaurants offer menus only in Lithuanian. But natives are (mostly) rather patient, and we are able to manage.
John Good has been a member of the US Team at many World Gliding Championship events, serving as crew, Team Captain and report author. He was the Deputy Championship Director/ Task-setter at the 2012 WGC in Uvalde, Texas and brings a wealth of international rules knowledge as Captain.