Sunday, June 29, 2014

Competition Day 4 and International Night

WGC2014 – Räyskälä, Finland
28 June   (Fourth actual competition day)
by John Good

This morning’s sky was again beautifully clear, and this time the day delivered something close to what these attractive morning conditions promised.  The result was the best racing day yet, with excellent speeds and only a little rain to dodge.

The tasks were the longest yet, though just a bit short for weather this good.  The Competition Director noted that the initial idea was for a “grand tour” task that circumnavigated the large controlled airspace area surrounding the city of Tampere, located about 50 miles north of here.  (Why a city of 150,000 needs an area of closed airspace worthy of Philadelphia is a bit of a mystery.)

Such a task would have been about 500 km, and probably within the capabilities of the 20-Meter and Standard class gliders.  But the forecast for some chance of rain led to a decision for shorter tasks that stayed closer to home.  The winners in those two classes completed their 350-km tasks in a bit under 3 hours, which causes the winning score to be reduced below 1000 points – a trifle disappointing for what could prove to be the best day of the contest.  But enough pilots dodged enough rain showers late in the day to limit the grumbling about undercalled tasks.

The improvement in weather has encouraged Finland’s insects: all gliders returned today with a good number of them smashed on the leading edges of wings.  It may soon be time to carry those troublesome bugwipers.  On the ground, mosquito repellent is starting to come out of storage and into use (a bright side to our cold weather has been the suppression of what can be a major nuisance at this time of year).

The evening’s big social event was International Night: all teams are encouraged to serve food and drink typical of their country.  This was a huge success here at Räyskälä – hundreds of people attended (but there was plenty for all); no one left hungry, and few 100% sober.  The US Team served grilled hot dogs on buns, with all the trimmings (they were seriously popular).  Team Australia offered wine and also Vegemite, a yeast extract that is spread on bread or crackers.  This has the appearance, consistency and some say, the flavor of road tar, but I happen to love it.

 Team Brazil whipped up a dangerous concoction known as caipirinha, which includes limes, sugar and cachaça (sugar cane distilled into fire water).  And if you plan on operating machinery or even walking a straight line, be careful when a smiling Janusz Centka (several time world gliding champion from Poland) offers you a small quantity of clear liquid.  At WGC2010 it was some variant of Slivovitz; here it was vodka. 


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