Some good news 🙂
Good reason to put a note to my blog here and to add on the excitement about the upcoming summer! 😉
That’s been some long waiting but finally FAI has ratified two of my four claims. (The other two for the FAI triangle are still in the queue). The former records (405.8 and 411 km) belong to Corinna Schwiegershausen, who had her great flight in Brazil in November 2017.
It’s a good feeling to get the official part done. I do like this long flight for many reasons, not only for it being a new hang gliding female world record now but also for the story of it. Maybe that is actually a good moment to finally put it together here.
WARMING UP FOR FORBES
Everything happened in Forbes during the competition in Dec 2017 – Jan 2018. When coming to Australia that year I had a really strong motivation to try some records, at least I wanted to give it a go for an FAI triangle. I took care to have the proper and familiar to me gear, namely a hang glider Moyes Litespeed RX3, Digifly Air instrument, LXNav Nano3 as the second instrument and Flymaster 3G Livetracker.
I arrived to Sydney one week before the competition. Greeted the lovely Moyes team, picked up my glider from the factory and since the weather in Stanwell wasn’t promising for the following days, I jumped into the Gerolf’s Pajero and off I was into the direction of the Ozzy outback!
What I really enjoy in my sport is this freedom I have when travelling around the world with a hang glider on the roof.
I don’t know exactly how many kilometers I have driven over the last 9 years – I think around 200 000 km, where about a half of this distance was on my own. Whether with an audio book or in silence, during the day or night – these moments are somehow not boring despite some long road hours. They are to dream about the future adventures and to reflect about those already behind. They are almost like meditation and self settlement for the things which are coming, be it a competition, a free flying week or my scientific and teaching job. And this view of an endless road somewhere in the outback is something that gives me the life perspective – both literally and metaphorically.
Into the Boonies!
Forbes Flatnads is well known to be very intense week and before coming to Oz I had a few months break in flying so I wanted to get into the gears as soon as possible in order to prepare for the comp which was starting on 29th December. On 26th Dec. I arrived to Forbes where everyone except Steve McCarthy was lazy still digesting the Chrismas. Steve gave me a tow in the late afternoon so I could boat around for a while, getting used to the glider.
FAI TRIANGLE ATTEMPT
I got my first chance for the triangle already on the next day, December 27th. Due to some technical issues I had to plan a later take off. Appropriately to that, the plan was to try a declared FAI triangle of 210.4 km, which would be about 10 km longer than the current world record of Kathleen Rigg (200.08km).
Attila Bertok, the World Champion in Texas, who holds himself a world speed record of 42,40 km/h in the nomination ‘Speed over a triangular course’, gave me some clever hints for the task. Steve McCarthy being the FAI observer took the declaration and at 13:06 Bleino towed me into the Forbes sky for the record attempt. That wasn’t an early take off but it probably gave me an extra boost, so that I had then completed the task with an average speed of 37.8 km/h ;). A bit of a drama in the end where I nearly landed just 1 km short only spiced it up 🙂 That was a good practice day before the comp one could say! Here is the tracklog: //www.xcontest.org/2018/world/en/flights/detail:Sasha/27.12.2017/02:06
DISTANCE TO GOAL RECORD ATTEMPT
Forbes – Manilla
So the competition started on December 29th and was promising to be a booming week ahead. As a background fact it’s worth to mention that two years before there was the longest task of 367.6 km which I managed to screw up at a mark of 260 km! Boy, I wasn’t happy on that one field in the middle of nowhere back then…
This time the weather seemed to be favorable for another attempt of the longest ever task in the history of hang gliding competitions. The day has come on 2nd of January when the task committee decided for a new ambitious mark of 388.8 km from Forbes to Manilla! In turn I had decided for 408 km, Forbes –> Boonies Behind Manilla. When one flies this direction it gets pretty wild after Manilla, so with the help of Google Earth I took and declared to the meet director Wesley Hill a final point near one last possible to land field, 20 km behind the official comp goal.
That morning I had to make a decision whether I should only try the record, taking off and getting on the route earlier, therefore giving up on the competition start gate time or should I wait and then try to at least save my points in case I screw up the record attempt… The day was hot and surely on a windy side, at 11:53 I decided to take off first and to see how it goes, Steve McCarthy towed me up a bit upwind, towards my starting point.
The conditions weren’t strong yet, but I was able to stay in the air, I decided to wait for the clock… Maybe wasn’t a bad decision for the competition result but definitely terrible for the record attempt. Miraculously by the time of the clock I wasn’t in a good position, the drift with the wind was quite significant so I even had to glide upwind to the start cylinder. Essentially I have lost one hour before I finally went on the task! This hour of waiting also didn’t give me the advantage of staying with the gaggle because they all were gone 10 minutes before I could finally get to the cloud base. The day was now in full swing!
I calculated to complete the flight before the sunset at 20:05 in Manilla I had 6 hours 45 minutes and would have needed an average speed of about 60 km from now on and till the end. That seemed to be quite a challenge — all I was thinking I had to focus on an effective and fast climb since this is the main speed loss when flying with the wind.
It was a serious ride for about 250 km, at that mark there was the first big decision to make — there were some boonies with two choices of crossing. I only spotted a few hang gliders being low over the hills, that wasn’t helping much. The most important part was to keep on with the live clouds in order to keep the speed and not to stuck somewhere. I was lucky to choose the street of some not very well formed but still working cumulus, it was a bit windier than I’d prefer, but at least I was still progressing on the course.
After the mark of 300 km after entering plains again the race came to a stand still – I needed a lift and I couldn’t afford keeping up the average speed of 60-65 km/h now. It was almost 6pm and I still had a 100 km to fly! That was a moment of uncertainty for me but although the conditions weren’t as strong any more I still was able to progress. 60 km before the final point I saw the whole area on the course line was under a thick overcast… At the same time it was close to 7pm, I couldn’t wait it to get better either. I was in a weak climb, which otherwise I would have probably left but since there was this shade in front I decided to stay and milk it to the very possible end – I took it to 3500 m – the highest on this day and went on. That was a fantastic 30 km glide in the evening sun with the glide ratio of over 20 to 1! This slow climb and the long glide gave me a moment to put all my concentration and confidence together again. Now I had to find my final climb, it wasn’t racing game any more. Under the total overcast at 19:30 in the evening anything would do. I had to take whatever would produce a slightest bip on my vario. With a lot of patience and at the same time being not completely sure if this would be enough, with the glide ratio of 14 to 1, I finally had to leave on my final. I flew over the competition goal field to make this one and continued for another 20 km into the outback of Manilla. At 8pm I finally took my goal point! My field turned out to have a comfortable to land slope and as a bonus it was full of sheep.
The moment I landed at 20:03 the sun also got finally down, so for a few minutes I was standing there totally alone in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Australia, watching the shocked sheep starring at me and was thinking — I might have broken the world record just now…
That was a good moment to remember, I got to say, a silent one.
That night it was a long retrieve in a great company of Atilla and Zhenschi, back to Forbes, which is so good!