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2nd World Air Games Completed

Contest Day 6

Another hot, clear morning with not a cloud in the sky, but a clearly defined inversion layer, more visible toward the west and barely a breeze. Off to Lillo with a stop at the bank for a bit of money exchange. At the field, the usual preparations get underway, now almost routine.

The pilot briefing begins with the results of Day 5. Sarah takes another win for the Brits with 29 of the 30 World Class ships completing the task. Francois takes 8th place with a speed of 84.7 km/h after the team became separated on course. This puts him in 21st overall. Pat comes in slower on the day after getting low and struggling to get back on track, but takes 21st at 78.16 km/h for the day, putting him at xth overall. Rick finishes in 3rd for the day at 126.68 km/h for an overall position of 5th behind another Brit - Steve Jones - in 250, who wins another day at 128.48 km/h.

The weather report is for a strong day and the tasks reflect this. 18 meters will fly 505.33 km from Cerro El Romeral - AD Santa Cruz del Mundol - Plaza Del Judio - Navahermosa - Mota Del Cuervo - Cervanta - Lillo30. The WC flys Villacanas - AD Cuevalosa - AD La Calderina - Los Yebenes - El Toboso - Cervanta - Lillo30 for a 305.78 km task.

The controversy over several pilots who flew into the Madrid controlled airspace continues with the Swiss having filed a formal protest last night to increase the assessed penalty from the 100 points to 300 or more. Alvaro De Orleans-Borbon had also filed a protest over denial of a relight after landing back at the field under power, which was denied. So, at this point, there are still no official scores beyond Day 2 - and rumors abound that Day 1 and Day 2 will also be reviewed for airspace violations.

Off to the grid for the launch! Since we all know this is a sport that one can’t take too seriously, we decide to have a little fun with our WC leader, the Brit, Sarah Steinberg. As the pre-grid lines moves to take the runway after the last of the 18 meter ships roll, I attach a small star-spangled drag chute to the back of her PW-5 “HZBâ€. Everyone, well, except for the French, (our friend Cedric as crew for them, has often complained about them as being “old maidsâ€) thought our little trick quite funny. The organizers actually photographed our prank so you can see it on the local aero club web site www.aeroclubtoledo.com.

Ships launched without incident and the crew settle back to wait - another extremely hot, dry, dusty afternoon with occasional dust devils blasting through the screen porch of the team tent. The screened canopy was by far the best thing included in the equipment crate shipped from the US!

The gates are open, Rick starts with the Brits and flies aggressively. He makes it around the course in good time. Pat and Francois find the first few thermals after launch which is an important thing at a contest where there is obviously only one tow pilot who truly understands glider towing and max release altitude is 1,500 AGL. Pat comments on the team frequency about one thermal with at least two years of PW-5 production flying one gaggle! They also fly very aggressively today, but get separated soon after their start, run into trouble over the Sierras de Toledo on the second leg, but get around and home even with some additional difficulty on the final leg into the finish control point. It appears that our little prank had some affect as Sarah’s time for the day is slower than previous days and the French and the Poles take the day.

A relatively early evening, by Spanish standards and previous contest days. Rick and Barb head off to entertain the owner of their tow vehicle who will collect L58 and transport it to its next destination for more flying, while the WC teams and I decide to check out Tembleque for dinner. The “home†of Don Quixote is a wonderfully picturesque village with a stunning plaza. However, we had counted on finding a place to eat that would serve immediately and all the nearby restaurants were still preparing for the dinner hour, the earliest not serving until 9pm, some 20 to 45 minutes later.

We decided to order appetizers in a charming little tapas (“little platesâ€) bistro on the corner of the plaza across from an pretty fountain across the road. Our hostess and owner of the Café Vizncru is the wife of the mayor of the city, obviously the city’s most enthusiastic promoter cum laude, and is bubbling with excitement over our presence (actually, I think it was more because of the opportunity to show off her excellent tapas, her café, and the attractions of the town). She rabbitted on the entire meal, oblivious to our nearly complete lack of understanding of her machine-gun delivery of non-stop Spanish. We signed her guest book, complete with beautifully rendered gliders (1 18m and 2 PW-5s of course!) and a note of sincere thanks for her wonderful hospitality. We headed for home, our appetites fully sated.

Contest Day 7

The final contest day dawns just like the previous days - clear and cloudless. The temperature is cooler than the last two days, the haze layer in all quadrants is a bit more defined signifying the inversion layer’s presence, but a light breeze is blowing, so perhaps it will be an even better day than yesterday. We expect a banquet task today, so there will likely be fewer points available to the pilots, but they are ready to fly fast.

Our last trip to the airport, gliders are readied, rolled into the pre-grid line ups, a quick snack at the airport restaurant, along with a scan of the newly posted score sheets, then off to the pilot briefing.
At the briefing, the first news is about the closing ceremonies, both the local ceremony to be held at the refurbished convent cum restaurant/bar, and the WAG ceremony to be held some 450 km away in Jerez at the race track.
Buses are to leave Lillo at 1am for the journey of some 7 hours each way!

Further news includes the denial of the Swiss protest so the 100 point penalties stand as initially applied, and results become official for days 3, 4, and 5. Said score sheets are delivered to the teams. Rick is now 4th overall based upon the official results along with the Day 6 unofficial results, while Pat is 10th and Francois is 13th. Even with a potentially devalued task today, they study the score sheets carefully to build their strategy to move up a few ranks. Tasks are called amongst heated outcry at the CD’s method of handling the banquet - scheduled to begin at 10pm - an arbitrary finish line close time of 1900 is set, then extended to 1930 as a bone to the disgusted competitors. “We will have the safest, fairest competition ever held†is the quote from the first official pilot briefing that comes to mind, as well as Max Bishop’s comment some days earlier to me that he felt this was the best organized comp of those in the 2001 Games!

The weather briefing indicates perhaps the strongest day of the contest, on par with the last two practice days. We expect to see some really incredible speeds today and won’t be disappointed as it turns out. 18 meter will start at Cerro El Romeral, then off to Juego De Bolos - AD Pouzu El Los Declatrava - San Pablo De Los Mounts - El Pedernoso - Cervant - Lillo 30 for a weirdly neck-tie shaped 447 km task. The WC pilots have a 258 km task from Villacanas - Fuente El Fresno - San Pablo De Los Mounts - Mora - Quintanar De La Ordan - Cervanta - Lillo 30.

Off to the grid for launch and everyone heaves a huge sigh of release as the last ship rolls safely - no more launches! Back to the tent to wait for the pilots to return. We hold our breath collectively one last time as the finishers return in huge numbers simultaneously - as many as 20 ships at once! Everyone gets down safely and there are no land outs physically, but many virtual landouts as strategies of leaving late backfire on both Rick in the 18m and Sarah in the WC, dropping both of them well down into the lower tiers of the score sheet. On the other hand, Francois posts a blazingly fast 110 km/h speed for the fastest time he’s ever flow the PW-5 - but the winner for the day is even faster! Who would imagine a PW could go that fast! Pat comes in just a bit slower after getting low over the hills on the second leg. Final standings are posted to the website at www.wag2001.org.

Closing Ceremonies

Ships in the box by 9, a mad dash to the hotel to freshen up and a mad dash back to Lillo for the closing ceremonies. As we should have expected, the “badges required†admonition had no basis in fact, nor did the 10 starting time. The dinner got underway at about 11 pm - Ham, pork sausage, proscutto, chorizo as appetizers (I’ve had my pork quota for the next 10 years on this 14 day trip!) with a rather tasty beef stroganoff as the entrée. The courtyard of the convent restaurant is a lovely plaza and makes for a nice setting for the banquent. It is separated from the sidewalk behind by a wrought iron fence which allows a group of the locals to observe the shenanigans of the French (who must create a new drinking song) in a completely out of character drinking fest. Sebastian, the leading Polish WC pilot, challenges them to a vodka drinking contest and it gets rather louder!

Finally, diplomas are awarded to the top 10, with medals to the first, second and third place finishers. A nice touch was the presentation of PW-5 models to the top three WC finishers by the new manufacturer and our friends, Bielsko 1. The flags were raised, the anthems played on a boom box with a microphone held in front of the speaker. Speeches made, and the ceremony concluded. Back to the room for a quick 2 hour nap and the WC team departs at 5am for it’s drive to Jerez, while Rick and Barb leave to return home.

Arrival at Jerez is uneventful after a brief “brunch†stop on the way. Another ham sandwich - not sure I’ll ever eat one again - and we see two men stop who are obviously in air sports. As the information we have about the ceremony location is sketchy at best, I accost them and meet the Portugese judge for the parachuting comp. He has only slightly more information than we and happily shares what he knows. He goes on to comment that their comps, with over 1,000 competitors, was mainly safe with only a few bruises and minor broken bones due to turbulence on landing, about 10 injuries. However, he adds that the the power parachutists with only 150 competitors had many accidents and incidents, none fatal, fortunately, so we concluded that our competition had been pretty safe and well run in comparison!

Our attempts to locate and join the US Team at the race track are prove futile and completely frustrating, so Pat and I decide to continue to Gibraltar to sight see for the remainder of the day. Francois and Dottie remain to see the event and wave the flag for the US Gliding Team. We’ll see what they have to say about the event after they get home.

The challenge, in closing, that I put to the US soaring community, is to begin this year to develop better organization, training, and funding for our world championship participation. Much has been accomplished in this regard over the years, and my opinion is obviously from a limited perspective of only two world comps, but the Brits performance here (along with the Polish, French and German teams) clearly supports the conclusion that a well-defined plan, executed properly, will result in a significant increase in our ability to bring home the gold.

Hasta luego!
Respectfully submitted,
Conrad Suechting
US Team Captain, 18m & World Class, 2001.

Posted: 6/25/2001 By: General News

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