Thursday, August 03, 2006

Results from Day 1

Hi everyone,
Today (Thu) has been cancelled due to high overcast and increasing winds ahead of some more weather (see my link to the weather sites at right for the "aktuelles" forecast). I look forward to a trip to a big Russian groceery store later today, if I can catch a ride with someone.

We achieved task 1 yesterday, with a 165.5 km 3 turnpoint task. The weather was pretty good, although below average by local Russian standards. There were cumulus clouds, although not all were true lift indicators, and Tim fell victim to a "sucker cloud" that separated him from the top group and dropped him to 6th place on the day.

A pretty good showing for his first cross country day in a Jantar, though!

Things went pretty smoothly from an organizational standpoint, although there was some confusion about the start order. Before the first comp day, lots were drawn for line numbers, which is pretty standard in international competition, right? Then you take off from left to right by line, so your start order depends on when you get to the grid. Here, they were trying to take people in the order they had drawn the lots, which resulted in slight confusion (I think mostly on our part) but it all worked out.

We have ended up with 13 competitors instead of 15 - two had to withdraw at the last minute. Just to put this event in perspective, there are about 300 glider pilots in the country. There aren't any "modern" gliders herre yet, although people are working to change that. There are about 100 Jantars, 100 Blaniks, and 30 Lak-12s. Russian contest pilots are given different titles, such as Master of Sport and something else I can't understand when they say it in Russian.

This airport is pretty active all week long with helicopter training and aerobatic training as well. Of course, I am tempted by the go-kart track, but so far no one will race with me. Perhaps that falls under the "don't do nothing dumb" heading anyway.


The flying center, constructed for the 2005 World Glider Aerobatics Championship

A Wilga tow plane...with a pair of Antonov 2s - one in original Russian Airforce marking and one in more modern paint job.

Iakov Shrage, our host.

The weather man, Sergei Stepanov points at the less-than-promising forecast for today.


Rick Sheppe said...

Hi Susan -
Thanks for the reports, and could you tell us a bit more about the rules? When is the start time established, and what happens if you miss the start line or leave early?

Good luck to the team. We hope the official website starts posting results soon.


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I saw your posting on rec.aviation.soaring and read your blog.
I was in Drakino last year for the World Glider Aerobatic Championships and have very good memories! Say, what has happend to the airfield since we left? Drakino was supposed to become a regional airport soon, that´s why they built the "aquarium", the terminal building where the briefings are held (I suppose). Are the small wood cabins still there (between the restaurant and the hotel)? We lived in them for two weeks and had lots of fun. Where is that go-cart track you mentioned, there was none last year? I suppose the russian glider aerobatic pilots are back from Poland in the meantime, are they? Please forward my best regards to Georgi, Anatoly, Igor and Olga, will you? If you need any help, ask for Roland Kueng (and tell him I sent you), his house is next to the home of the Power Aerobatic folks.

Good luck, best regards, I´m keen to read more of your reports!

Markus Feyerabend

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

While I do enjoy your posts from Russia and wish you and Tim every luck in this contest and for this trip overall, I also can't help wondering if you are aware of the apparently highly controversial story behind the organization of this GP.

I heard from many clubs all over Russia that "donated" their time, efforts and equipment (yes, most -- or all -- of those Jantars are apparently "borrowed" from active soaring clubs right at the peak of soaring season) how it was done. They stop short of blaming your host, Mr. Shrage, for abusing his power of VP of Gliding Federation of Russia for personal benefits... but *just* short. Apparently, the methods used in organization of this event were quite traditional Soviet ones: from the heights of authoritarian power within the Federation the clubs were told to chip in and make it happen -- pronto -- or else.

I was not there, and I may not know the whole story (or the other side of the story), but I know many soaring enthusiasts back in Russia who were ticked off (to put it mildly) by the spin Mr. Shrage put on this event. I also know that some of the top Russian pilots chose to boycott the event altogether because of the way their clubs were treated by the Federation. (I was wondering if they did, but there is no way to find out -- the list of competitors is not available even on the official GP website.)

You may say that you don't care about the politics and that you came to enjoy the soaring and fly the contest. To which I say: fair enough. Good luck. I hope that Tim wins.
Yuliy Gerchikov