From 9th December to 18th December, the South African Open (from 11th to 17th) should lead me for a short summer break in winter time to South Africa. Shortly after I've booked my flight I learned that a friend whom I know from the paragliding community in Singapore will be there for parts of the time as well.
So I arrived very excited in Capetown, which many promised me to be the most beautiful city in the world. Although I arrived in rain, I already could guess what it meant. Nice little colonial style houses between Signal Hill, Table Mountain, the Lion Head and the Atlantic Ocean.
Luckily the rain stopped around noon and after some lunch, my friend from Singapore, Stephane, and his wonderful fiancee gave me a sight seeing tour towards the Cape of Good Hope. The fresh air in my face with spring-like temperatures and watching the birds soaring above the cape's rocks made it a wonderful happy and refreshing day. Together we went for a beautiful dinner featuring the best steak I ever had in my life with some of Stephane's friends to a restaurant above the sea.
On Saturday, 10th of December, I got a morning ride with Flo (many thanks again!) from Cape Town to Porterville, where the competition was supposed to start the next day. We were planning to use the day for some training and getting used to the flying conditions there. We set ourselves a little task which a happily failed to complete, but is was wonderful to watch the endless flats and rocky hills from the air. And to finally after a long break get decent thermals again.
In the evening we the first competition briefing took place.
The first task on Sunday, 11th a 81km task should first lead us down the ridge towards south and from there into the flats towards Piketberg and up towards north. I bombed out on my attempt to fly in to the flats with far too little height, hoping fore some decent thermals there (which there weren't). Some local kids came running towards me when I was just about to land and so my glider was packed quickly and retrieve already waiting (which is a big relief since temperatures reached soon over 40°C during the daytime).
The second task was a straight line from takeoff via Endekuil towards the north west of the valley. I was good on the way along the ridge and when heading out in the flats we had found some climb. The strong southerly winds blew us up north with every turn and so, Bernd and I decided to leave the thermal together when it didn't lead to much of success anymore. I flew a bit more right than him. He found a thermal and I found myself in a 7m/s sink, not able to make it to the thermal against the wind. Minutes later I was on the ground and Bernd made it to goal on this day. Well, that's the game.
The third day was cancelled due tail wind on takeoff. So we went to the nearby waterfalls and climbed them up. What a nice and refreshing diversion.
On the fourth day, a similar route as on day two was set, and strong winds brought me the same faith as on day two again. On that day, barely any non-CCC-wing was able to make it to goal.
|Photo by Stef Junker|
Since the next day was cancelled again, this time due to too much wind, we made a nice little trip to Riebeek Castle, a small town with little houses, cafés and art galleries. And with a good sense of humor.
On day 6, finally the luck was on my side. We had to fly a task of 67km which lead us first down south to Porterville and then up the ridge and into Citrusdal until the goal in constriction. I finally was patient enough to always make the required hight and I was finally flying full speed along the ridge. What a fun it was. And so I managed to get into goal only 25 minutes after the first pilot. Patience seems to pay out :D
Day 7 again found me impatient and the strong wind combined with not enough height made me land early again. Not the finish of the comp I was hoping for, but nontheless an experience to learn from.
Over all, the 10 days in South Africa have been amazing and the competition very well organized. Spending the time with old and new friends and flying this ridges and flats was just a big fun. On day 6 I seemed to have understood, how everything works and with this awareness I will go into the next portion of the winter-break. I finished 5th in the women class and 54th out of 98 overall. Not my worst result after all.
To me it was a new style of flying again, even though I'm used to flat land flying. The strong winds sometimes gave me a hard time and showed me once more how important height and patience is. Also trusting the ridge to always provide climb, even though racing along it super low, was a new experience for me.
I hope, this experience will help me in the next comp season and I definitely hope to come back to this wonderful country and place again.
Thanks to everybody who made this time so great and especially Stephane for the sightseeing and lovely dinner, Flo for the ride from Capetown, Kirsten for bringing me my radio back, Harry for the excellent shuttle and Bernd for some local guidance. The biggest thanks go to the competition organizers who really did a great job in making this whole week a blast.
The full competition results can be found here: https://airtribune.com/wcopen2016/results