Thursday, June 26, 2014

We are racing!

WGC2014 – Rayskala, Finland
26 June   (Second actual competition day)
by John Good


Our patience has been rewarded with weather that allowed a couple of days with genuine soaring tasks. 

 It would have been far too much to expect that the flying be trouble-free, and it certainly hasn’t.  Finland’s “summer without a summer” continues.  We’ve had much cloud and low temperatures – pilots have had to pay a lot of attention to the problem of finding lift under a solid overcast, and sometimes in rain.

Yesterday’s tasks went well for three US pilots, and not so well for three others.  The unfortunate ones were Bob Fletcher (who encountered little but rain after his start and landed only about 25 km out), and Heinz and Karin (who made several relaunches and thus got out on the task far too late to complete it). Phil Gaisford got around a troubled Standard Class task.  Sean Franke had an excellent flight and finished second in Club class; Garret Willat had the best distance among the non-finishers, which earns a respectable score on a day when many pilots don’t get home.

Garret’s outlanding was in a good field that he’d scouted (on the ground) during the practice period.  This “homework” allowed him to press on into an area that otherwise offers very unattractive landing options (of which the best is a lake).

Today’s weather was just a bit better.  There was still plenty of cloud  and rain showers to dodge, but lift – often under near-solid cloud layers – was consistent enough to get most pilots around their tasks.  Sean and Garret had decent flights (at 90 and 88 kph).  Sean’s 13th place for the day, puts him in second place overall, just one point out of first.

Most pilots in Standard Class delayed their start for quite some time, in view of trouble evident at their first turn area to the south.  When they did finally set out, It seemed that the chances of many complete tasks was small.  But the class generally stuck together, found the lift they needed, and mostly got home, Bob and Phil included.  Bob finished 13th – a big improvement over yesterday.  But Phil got very bad news: in a pre-start thermal he’d made a short excursion into closed airspace, and thus receives no points for the day.

Beyond the nature of Finland’s summer weather, some differences are notable here: You’ll look long and hard for a pickup truck. When Finns wish to move stuff around, they use utility trailers (which explains why a high percentage of vehicles have tow hitches - and not just those found at glider contests).  In deference to the climate, these trailers often have large molded plastic covers.  This very practical approach is no doubt in part a response to gas that’s currently costing us $8.50 / gal – an amount that would make a vehicle with the mileage of a pickup an extreme indulgence.

Supermarkets always provide useful points of comparison between countries.  Take mustard, for example: in Finland, this is commonly sold in large toothpaste-like tubes, which actually work well for spreading mustard on bread or meat.  As with most food items here, the variety is impressive.  Unlike some, mustard containers typically include some useful hints in English as to the nature of the contents.  I bought some labeled “Prepared mustard strong” and have not been disappointed.

At all markets it seems you’re expected to bring your own bags (or pay for the ones you need) and to bag your own purchases.  Carts are reasonably small, and typically have 4 fully castering wheels.  If you select produce, you should weigh and label it before you arrive at the checkout.  Most items are expensive by our standards – to pay the same price here in Euros (at $1.36 each) as you do in dollars at home means the item is fairly cheap.  Quality seems uniformly high.

A final point concerns car models, which in Finland are similar but not identical to what’s found in the US.  Ever run across a Nissan Qashqai?  I saw a couple of these small SUVs today.

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