Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sweden 2009 - Allard van Wallene

Sweden 2009
All over western Europe, the weather was summer-like with temperatures even passing the 30 degree mark in Scandinavia. Looking at the weather forecast I was in doubt if I should bring my rain gear. And as I was driving up north together with Gerard Willemsen and his girlfriend Menna in his spacious van, I packed all I could possibly need. It proved to be a lucky guess.
I drove up to Gerard’s place in Harderwijk the night before departure. Gerard was still busy preparing his gear, which was scattered all over the living room floor. After a solid night sleep and early rise, we packed our last valuables (model boxes) and were on our way. Soon after sunrise the temperature started rising, a sign that the airco was not doing its thing. After my previous ‘airco down’ experience to Sezimovo Usti, I was thinking that maybe I had some bust airco aura around me. The summer temperatures in the back seat made sleeping all the easier. The ferry to Rodby was a welcome break to cool down a bit.

Thunderstorm in Rinkaby
Close to Rinkaby the sky was packing up with thunderclouds and upon arrival at the military barracks all hell broke loose with fierce rains, lightning and wind. I was glad I had opted to sleep in the barracks, even more so after realizing the mosquitoes were keeping a low profile this year. Gerard put up his ‘throw up’ tent and soon we were driving to Ahus for a pizza. The thundercloud was moving slowly east and we managed to outrun it to the Rinkaby cash dispenser a few seconds before the first drops started falling. Just after confiscating the last available table at the pizzeria, it started to get real dark outside followed by flying parasols, thunder and rain. It didn’t last very long, and after having finished our dinner we could stroll along the harbor docks admiring the pinnacle in sail yachts in the setting sunlight with collapsing thunderclouds at the horizon. We were wondering if the global crisis left this place totally untouched. The high-end restaurants facing the harbor were fully booked with people even queuing. A stroll passed the guesthouse where Anselmo and I passed our time on previous visits and to the beach, left nothing to be desired, although a bottle of cool white wine would have been the cherry on the pie.

Ahus harbour
The next morning I was woken up by a bright rising sun piercing through the window of the barracks, shining right into my face. No alarm clock needed. I took a quick breakfast and had a look at the Saab Draken which was moved to the barrack grounds from the desolate place it had been resting and decaying over the passed years. Soon everyone was gathering for the briefing at the west end of the field. Weather was perfect but thermals not easy to pick. A conventional piggy backing tactic proved to be a risky exercise in the first rounds since thermals tended to collapse. Per Findahl in particular fell victim, after trying to locate his model below that of Rene Limberger already circling at some 150 meters altitude. After about 5 circles and running downwind to keep in the moving bubble he launched but the model soon dropped out spoiling a fly off position. Only 7 each in F1A and F1B made it to the fly off, a clear sign of the sometimes tricky conditions.
The fly off was scheduled at 8.00 PM and since only 5 rounds were flown, there was some time left to get a quick dinner in Ahus. Again, thunderstorms were gaining momentum but kept themselves at a safe distance despite the sometimes fierce sand- sweeping gusts at the beach. We managed to get a quick pizza and some soft drinks. The waitress apologized for the freezer being broke, so no ice. Again my airco aura?
The wind had shifted to the east, so the fly off started at the east side of the east gravel road. The east side of the field was cultivated with some wheat, so our traditional fly off spot was ‘taken’. F1A was first on its way with a 7 minute max. I towed upwind and after some 6 minutes I found a nice patch of air. When trying to launch, the rudder didn’t kick in and the model went off pattern. I aborted the launch making good use of the inertia hook and tried again but a third attempt was needed to get a relatively safe pattern. But the bubble was long gone and some flyers downwind made good use of the air. Rene’s model rode it the best possible way for a convincing win.
Also in F1B, one round was decisive. Rosonoks launched first with a spectacular high climb. But soon after the blades folded, the model started sinking fast. Silz, flying his best rubber on a short motor, went up like a rocket with a burst that didn’t seem to end. Clearly his air was better and the model glided down and into the trees at the north side of the field for yet another win. The following flyers were however very close and just a few seconds behind, most of them also ending up in the trees. Prize giving was traditionally held in front of the barracks with snacks and drinks.
The Danish Nordic cup was scheduled the next day with a briefing at 08.30. The day started overcast, and apparently the forecast didn’t look very good because the contest director Bo Nyhegn already mentioned a possibility of a reduced max. During his talk the wind had already swung to the east, so a move to that side of the field was soon on its way. The max was set at 180 seconds which proved to be a hurdle a lot of flyers could not take.
Masters of tow, Ivo Kreetz and Rene Limberger
Thermal picking was not easy since the arrival of a bubble was often accompanied with hefty turbulence, giving the flyers a hard fight to keep the model on tow. Several flyers had to use a second attempt after towing in the model. After two rounds we had to move in a south direction in order to keep the models within the field perimeters. The max was soon to be reduced to 2,5 minutes and even 2 minutes in the last two rounds. Only a few were brave enough to circle tow to pick the air, most decided to wait on the ground for signs of good air. In the last round it started to rain and thermals were no longer clearly detectable. Dethermalising at 50 meters after two minutes was considered to be good air. Needless to say that under such conditions not many made it to the fly offs, in this case only 6 in F1A.
The fly off was scheduled at 7 pm. Just enough time for drying the models and a quick bite on the camp ground. The organizers were painstakingly consulting the local weather stations to decided when to fly. The short term forecast for dry weather was too optimistic, and the fly off started in pouring rain. The wind speed was however low at some 3 m/s. For Allard history repeated itself. This time not a shifted launch sensor, but not enough spring pull back on the hook causing a pitch up leaving the model inverted. The recovery left the model too low to catch the air. Rene’s model suffered from a heavy tail due to the water build up and his model started stalling spoiling his chances for a second victory. Jaris Zanins from Latvia was the only one making the 5 minutes for a clear win.
Soon the F1B fly off was on its way. Despite the rain, buoyant air was still around and both Gerard Willemsen and Andreas Gey made the 5 minutes. The timer in Gerards’s all electronic model had trouble with the wet and he had to use his back up model to try the 7 minutes. Andreas politely waited for Gerard to prepare. Both launched in the same air, which was particularly negative with the models pulling out of the climb at rather low altitude with Andreas’ model clearly higher and therefore the winner. The water soaked models were quickly retrieved and we all headed for the dry barracks.
Price giving was inside the barracks due to the continuous rain. Everyone lined up in the corridor and the winners collected their ceramic bowls and glasswear.

Nordic Cup F1B winners
Next morning we packed all our wet stuff and headed for the ferry. The long cue before the ferry and the German road works caused some delay as did the navigation system guiding us over secondary roads. The lower temperatures compensated for the broken air conditioner.