I finished the JWGC on a strong note. Saturday was our last flying day with reasonably strong but seriously blue conditions. I started with the gaggle and flew with the gaggle halfway to the 3rd turn. The gaggle crossed the Tisza river low and pushed somewhat deep into the 3rd turn. I instead nicked the 3rd turn and flew deeper into the 4th turn in the stronger conditions west of the Tisza river valley. That was the right move. I took 6th for the day, my 2nd highest daily placing of the competition.
The return trip was long but uneventful. 18 hours on the road (with an overnight stop in Nuremberg, Germany) got us back “home” to Terlet. Alex and I enjoyed our last day in Europe by spending time with our friends in Terlet. Alex even went for his 2nd ever glider ride, this time with Dutch Junior Team pilot Lars Groot. I think I saw them do a loop after releasing from a winch launch. We both flew home Wednesday. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to new friends, but I think we were both ready to go home and are looking forward to our next adventures.
I am now sitting at my desk at home playing catch up and trying to collect my thoughts from the competition. I flew 60 hours over 3 weeks in incredibly diverse and challenging conditions with some of the best pilots in the world. There’s a lot to think about, and I hope to share some of these thoughts with the soaring community over the next few months. At the very least, expect an article in the SSA magazine.
None of this would have been possible without the incredible outpouring of support from all of you. I specifically want to thank everyone who helped prepare me for the competition: Leigh and Sam Zimmerman, Doug Jacobs, Rich Owen, Pete Alexander, Eric and Lynn Mozer, Jim Frantz, Walt Rogers, and Francois Jeremiasse. I additionally want to thank all of our US Team boots on the ground in Szeged: John Good, JP Stewart, Noah Reitter, Daniel Sazhin, Jonathan Elie, Jacob Barnes, Akos (our Hungarian contact), and Luke Du Plessis. Finally, an extra special thank you to my crew, Alex Miller, for supporting me for 5 weeks. None of this would have been possible without you. It really does take a village to pull something like this off. My apologies to anyone I may have forgotten.
Until next time. “DA” signing off.
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.