The forecast for today was for thunderstorms in the afternoon, in front of an approaching cold front. We all headed up the hill and set up on launch. Bruce has done the driving up to launch every day. He does very well. Today we tied our record of passing 3 other teams driving up the hill. When they see that black Mercedes filling up their rear view mirror, they pull over and let us by. As Kari would say, the race does not start at the starting line, or end at the finish line.
We set up our gliders and by 9:45 we could see cumulus clouds building on the mountain ranges. This was 1/2 an hour earlier than yesterday. They were also bent over, indicating a strong upper level wind. The task and safety committees met at 11:00 and it was decided for safety reasons that the task for today would be cancelled. By 4:30 it was raining very had, with lots of lightning and thunder (donder and blitzen sp?)
Jim did very good yesterday, finishing 12th place for the day. I believe that is the best any of us has placed for a day. I finished 20th, my best day yet. I am 25th overall, which puts me in the lower half of the standings. We joked today that I finally made it to the first page of the standings, which list 26 pilots per page. Bruce has been flying very fast and for the most part keeping up with the lead gaggle, but he has been bit by bad luck on a couple of days. I think he has a very good chance of placing in the top 5 on one of the days. Ron has had a string of bad luck. Yesterday he had only one small bump of lift after launch and sunk out. Davis has been fast on some days, back with me on others. I pretty much try and stay high and make goal.
After the task was canceled, Bruce and Jim decided to fly instead of breaking down at launch. The rest of us broke down and drove back to the hotel. Jim got some nice pictures from the air of the area. Bruce tried to go back to the turn point that caused him trouble on two previous days, unfortunately, it caused him trouble again today, and he did not make it back to the hotel LZ. We drove over and picked him up.
The glider I am renting has had the base tube repaired in 4 places. Two days ago I broke it at a previous repair. I was able to repair it and fly the next day. Here is the description of my landing as told by Jim and embellished by Nancy (you have to picture a lot of arm waving and sound effects). "It looked like a meteor as Vince came in to land. The impact cause a huge cloud of carbon to spray into the atmosphere. The dust particles in the air caused Greifenberg to enter a mini ice age. We had to lower a ladder into the impact crater so Vince could climb out. The shock wave was felt throughout the area." OK Jim, just wait until your next landing ;-)
Some more observations of the differences between here and the States. You have to pay to use a shopping cart at the grocery store and pay for a bag to put your groceries into. There are no convenience stores other than gas stations that sell some snacks and a few drinks. They do not sell ice anywhere we have found, nor ice chests. When we order a soda they only give us two ice cubes and we have to remember to ask for those. They do not give you water with your dinner, you have to ask, and then there are three types, mineral, with gas or without gas. With gas is soda water. Tap water is without gas. We have not found any gas stations that let you pay at the pump with a credit card. Most restaurants do not take credit cards. They drive very fast here and the roads are very narrow. There is a new joke going around the American team. The bad news is we have all taken up smoking, the good news is we do not have to by cigarettes. That's how bad the second hand smoke is over here. It seems that every one smokes. Even the waiters smoke while on duty. No place seems to be off limits including the grocery store. There are no phones in the hotel rooms.
We had a conversation with Alex Ploner (the best rigid pilot in the world) about the differences between here and flying in the States. He said here (which includes most of Europe) you can not land in the middle of nowhere. No matter what valley you land in there will be someone living near by. Most Europeans that have never been to the United States have no clue how big our country is. You could fly a hang glider over 4 countries in one flight here.