Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Racing karts when we can't race gliders.

WGC2014 – Räyskälä, Finland
1 July   (another no-contest day)
Edited from reports by John Good and Garret Willat

This morning offered another overcast sky, but no rain.  After 2 days with no possibility of flying, we were willing and indeed eager to spare no effort trying for a task today, so we dutifully assembled and gridded all gliders.  The forecast mentioned the possibility of clearing to the west by mid-afternoon, and indeed the clouds looked brighter and higher in that direction (the ones near the airfield were dark and looked to be at about 800’).  

But it was not to be.  There is plenty of good weather in Europe just now: satellite photos show fine conditions in Denmark and southern Sweden.  One Dutch pilot said a couple of his soaring friends at home had launched early on an attempt at a 1000-km flight.  Even Lapland (northern Finland) looks pretty good.  But southern Finland remains beset by grim weather, and by 1:30 all tasks were cancelled.

So what better way to unload some pent up energy then a go-cart track. After discussing with the Germans, Brits, Ozzies, and Romanians we gather 17 drivers on the track. Chaos, destruction, and a complete disregard for the rules ensue, and - to the surprise of no one who knows our nature - organized competition became quite serious.
The lap times improved on every trial, partially because we learned how to four wheel slide versus slamming into the 150 euro barricade. The second more important factor was the track was drying...
After qualifying runs, and three heats, the field is winnowed down to eight finalists - with Garret Willat and Bob Fletcher representing team USA in the Championship race.  It was a wild event, partially due to an unknown driver who rearranged the course by getting the barricade to explode on impact... That ended the races.... and Garret claimed a podium position - third!
The track workers, initially happy to entertain so many paying customers, apparently lost much of their enthusiasm for this crowd.  Many trackside barriers will have to be repositioned, and some kart dents repaired.  The general sense is that it might be unwise to return there soon wearing anything that could identify you as a glider pilot.

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