Pilots' reflections on Aeros Winter Race 2015 2015-04-08

Primoz Gricar:
The weather forecast for the week of Aeros Winter Race was looking promising, it looks like flying! In the car there is my young family, Yvonne and Aurel and on the car I have a brand new Combat 12,7 C, with super stiff Swiss Carbon components, heading for a 5-hour drive from Munich to Vipava Valley. We arrived late evening to our traditional accommodation near Vipava, where a hospitable lady received us and showed us our room.
First day showed out to be better than it looked at the beginning, the sun came out around noon, producing some breathtaking thermals. The time for the race has come, Elio had an outstanding position high above us all. However, during the course we were able to catch up with him. I did quite ok with the new glider, considering that it was my first flight on it. Finally, Elio and myself could pull away from the rest of competitors, I got lucky at the end and could take the lead on the final glide into Goal, through some severe burja turbulences, the forecasted weatherfront has come sooner than expected, so the wind has picked up.
Next day was the only restday, awaiting some very good weather to come.
Day 3. Ivan has composed a hard task, with many tactical options on a relatively small, but wind protected area around Nova Gorica. There were places in this task, where one should really pay attention, and I didn't do it, this resulted in a 15min delay. But by some fortunate arrangement, after thinking that everything was lost on such a short task, I was suddenly catching up with the lead guys on the last third of track, flying into goal together with them. On this day we had some finger freezing altitudes of 2200m, and very strong thermals, up to 8m/s integrated.
Day 4. More clouds appeared than on the day before, but they were all due to good thermal activity. So a lot of shadow, dark active clouds , big areas of light lift, again 2200m altitudes were the highlights of this day. We started with a big gaggle somewhere in the Valley, and after the first turnpoint the main Gaggle decided for a bad track, which put them low and searching in shadow. Matjaz, myself and 2 Italians, Marco and Anton have chosen a better track, preserving valuable altitude when coming back to the shady ridge. We could make use of light but consistent lift, made the last 2 turnpoints and comfortably flew into goal.
The Carbon Combat I was flying showed a good character, good climb rate and gliding.
Many thanks to Aeros, Markus and to organisers, for making such a good job. Also thanks to all the pilots who came to fly in the Aeros Winter Race.

Iztok Jarc:
It is always a miracle to visit Vipava valley in Slovenija. It is well known by a very strong NE wind called Bura. It was blowing over 140km/h just a couple days before Aeros winter race competition took place. There were 45 pilots contributing to this competition. Because of the Worlds not all the best pilots could come. Italian team was at the same time taking gold in Brazil. But Italians have many very good pilots, as we can see.
On the first day, and on all the next days, we went on Lijak take off. Bura was bending the flag on Kovk take off for the whole week in a wrong direction. Despite this, we were able to fly at Lijak. The air was nice and milky, with westerly breeze smoothly caressing hills. One shouldn't drive rough, only gentle smooth turns created good lift, very anxious first, but determined to lift the best pilots who approached the goal after a 49 km race. Primoz was successful with his new Combat C, but I was not focused enough at the beginning, so I missed those gentle lifts.
On the next day Bura was again blowing 10m/s on Kovk take off, but just 30 km away, in Lijak take off, we were able to fly in a south turned slope. There were strong lifts up to 7m/s, and cloud bases 2300m, above 100 ASL flat land. This time no one missed those lifts, the day turned out to be a great one. 26 pilots reached the goal on that day, and it was quite a typical day with good and strong lifts. Of course, one had to work to climb, but this is the way I like it.
Next day the safety commission wasn't sure whether to make the task or not. But the day bore great conditions. The lift was so strong and wide that I had to order my son, a beginner pilot, not to climb after 1800ASL. I took a bad start, I was 200 m under the cloud base. But this was an advantage in fact, because I was headed in the first turn point, quite above base, and had a good lift all the time. The crowd was flying under the blue sky, afraid of the clouds, and sank very quickly. The race developed in good flowing, suddenly I was the first on the top. It was not typical racing on the reach for many kilometers. On the contrary, you have to take wise climbing in thermals, otherwise you can be lost when flowing on the other side of the valley. This was the game to my taste, not only for gliders with low pitches, but also for other clever pilots. But the day wasn't stable, the lifts were very short breath, I didn't take the risk and chose the safe and long track. I missed it, couldn't find any lifts in the afternoon. My two sons found no lifts at all. This was the fun of the Winter race.
The organisation team picked very good tasks. Although this is the first race in Europe after winter, we have enjoyed quite spring thermals.