Monday 30th June – foggy day and pizza

No grid, briefing at 10, so the situation was quite clear. This wouldn’t be a flying day. I sent SMS to Kimmo and Jari if they would like to see something else than Räyskälä today. Jari was going home, but Kimmo had same thoughts as I did. We asked Riku and Satu to come with us, and we decided to go to Forssa and have a pizza and some grocery shopping.

It was too early for pizza right after briefing. Riku had to go “downstairs”, as we call the maintenance garage at motel basement, Riku was helping to repair ES, Matthew Gage’s glider after his “belly landing”.

Since it’s good to wash your car at least twice a year, I took my car downstairs as well and vacuumed it thoroughly from inside, now it only needs wash on the outside. It’s weird that the constant rain doesn’t wash it for me.

Gerrard “G” Dale was downstairs as well and we had a good laugh as he was painting some part with black primer and waiting for the paint to dry. What can you do when it’s not a flying day? Watch paint to dry?

Pizza at Martina was perfect, but the trip to Forssa took surprisingly long time and it was almost time for sauna and barbecue when we came back. My stomach was still full, but had a small piece of that nice pizza which I saved just to have it in the evening.

Tuesday 1st July – cancelled day

There isn’t much to say. The weather is awful. Anyway we have to try, as there was good weather west of us. There the cloudbase was about 1,5 km with some cumulus clouds under a high cloud, which would be quite good for us, I mean it would be better than rain.

Somehow the word “weather window” has been said quite often this year, first at Pribina Cup Nitra, then Vesis Open in May, at Finnish Gliding Nationals and now here. How can this be like this? So you do know the story, you wait and wait and wait for the weather window to come, and either it comes or it comes when it’s too late…or like today’s situation, it didn’t come. The day was cancelled after 13 o’clock.

Still it was a quite good day for gliding in general, as YLE Häme spent quite a lot of time here, from early morning until late lunch time. Hopefully they got good material, anyway they told us that the material will be used in several places. Let’s see.

I didn’t manage to leave from the office container earlier than normal office hour, which is pretty weird since the day was cancelled.

Our steward Patrick and field marshal Wille share a same birthday, 1st July. We had Patrick’s birthday cocktails at Hangar bar and then I had roasted salmon at barbecue with new potatoes and salad with Jari and Kimmo. Good Finnish summer food :-)

It seems that the nature is reacting on this weather: there are mushrooms already in the forest, but strawberries are not ripe yet. There is a strawberry field close to the airfield and I was hoping that all these international people would have a chance to taste Finnish strawberries. I am hoping that because someone didn’t believe that it would be possible to grow strawberries outside in Finland, he thought it would be possible in green house, but not outside. It is, and as they are growing quite slowly, the taste is really sweet.

Wednesday 2nd July - cold and windy cancelled day

This morning when I left from my caravan, it was so dark that you could see the driving lights. Driving lights are mandatory in Finland even during the day. During a bright day you don’t really see them that well. I took an umbrella and sunglasses with me, as it looked like I would need both of them at some point, and you never know when you have time to go to the caravan again.

Before towings I spent time in the container updating the facebook and this blog. Container was nice and warm, windy and rainy weather outside didn’t really invite me to go there. Deputy director Kaj saw from Pirkkala webcamera that the weather there was looking super good. We are at wrong airfield as usual when the weather is bad.

Towings were postponed repeatedly, Heikki and Janne (this week’s meteorologist) followed the rain showers from the big screen and hoped for the weather window again. I understood that someone asked from Heikki (with smile on his face) why we do have a grid today at all, because all the forecasts are telling that weather is…well exactly what it was outside. Someone asked me that same question when I went to the grid.

You might have heard me telling about Axel, the JWGC11 competition director in Musbach, and that I thought Axel was using “happy pills” as he always saw nice weather coming, which never came. I think that those “happy pills” are here now, and Heikki and met-man are using them as well. Or perhaps those pills come with the package which FAI sends to the organizer, or perhaps there is some manual “how to stay positive when weather is a disaster”. That’s a joke, of course!

I went to the grid despite of the weather, and found out that people had either escaped of the bad weather to café or were sitting in their cars. I had a walk around the grid and then we had a talk with – almost frozen – stewards before I saw competition directors and met-man with their heads together. After that only thing I could heard was…”ok, that’s a decision, you make the announcement”. Then Heikki said to the radio “Day cancelled for all classes, sauna recommended for anti-freeze”. I think that was great as Heikki was able to use some (local) humor at bad situation.

In the evening there was “Live Wednesday” in the Hangar. Teemu and Kimmo put my pictures on the screen and I had a wine with nice company. Since I had food in my fridge, I decided to leave and have a barbecue with my (Finnish) friends. Hmm..it seems to be too late to visit some of the teams barbecue, how sad is that.

To be honest with you, I forgot all about the “Live Wednesday” after eating. Reason for that is that Heikki found positive news from YLE pages of our competition (and my name and comment mentioned :-D ). I had to go to my caravan to share it to you, I couldn’t do it with my iPhone. When I was getting some drinking water from sauna, I saw Silva, our Jury Member who came with a smile on his face and told me that they’ve dance all possible Latin American dances and it had been great. I love to dance and at this point I realized I lost a possibility to enjoy dancing and that I had a normal barbecue as well. How sad is that. I can have a barbecue on following weeks as many times as I want, but don’t have that many possibilities to dance. Stupid of me.

Thursday 3rd July - strong winds

Janne (met-man) told in the briefing that there would be good chance for cloud streets today. 2 hours after club class start line opened, first outlanding report came to the office. The wind was really strong at the airfield at that point and competition director was thinking with deputy director if the task setting was good after all.

I am getting somewhat frustrated with some of the elements on the website, I mean that there are so many elements which are not under my control (entries list, tasks, results, soaring spot, outlanding map, webcameras, live scoring, tracking, streaming) and some of them are showing only blank screen. Of course I will get feedback from people “why this isn’t working, why aren’t you doing anything about it”, and only thing I can do is either remove the blank element from the website or ask the provider why things aren’t working. What else could I do? If the webcamera is off and I don’t have access to the computer which runs the webcams, there’s nothing I can do. Or if I don’t have credentials to update the entries list, there’s as well quite little for me to do. I could explain this further and further, but I won’t.

Flying day was really challenging, winds were much stronger than what was seen on the weather chart. Even the day was quite sunny, it wasn’t that anymore during the landings. Soon it was clear that most of the pilots would either have to land out or come back from the task. In club class 7 managed to fly the task, in Standard class only 3 and but all in 20 m class did use their engine (I assume all of them do have an engine, as all glider types are with XLT’s, M’s or T’s)

I went to see Marke, Jukka and Vesa at the “finish line”, where they keep a record of all gliders which have landed to the airfield. They are also using “walkie-talkie” to communicate with competition office as office receives all outlanding reports. This way they keep track of the contestants. When we had only 5 “missing” (meaning: we are waiting for) gliders, and Jukka went to put more clothes on because he was freezing, I left Marke - who was quite frozen as well - in the van and went to the competition office. I felt like I could use some action, also I wanted to help these poor people who were waiting for few “missing sheep”.

The end result was that one of the gliders we waited for had landed out hours ago and its outlanding report was in the pile of the other reports, then I made three phone calls to Team Captains and all of them answered “Oh, sorry, he has landed out quite long time ago, everything is ok”. Then I got to use the “walkie-talkie” and could say that “xxxx gliders have landed out, all gliders are counted”. When all gliders are counted, it means that safety team can leave the airfield, people who are securing the roads during the landings can go, the “finish line” can go and also competition directors can go. So the outlanding report is not only nice-to-know-information, it also gives lots of information for keeping track where the contestants are.

During the evening I was glad to hear one “joke-a-like” comment: Contest directors were talking in the warmth of the container that perhaps it’s better for them if they stayed away from the sauna today and took only a quick shower instead. The weather was really bad and contest directors were hoping that they would have changed the task from racing to AAT.

Friday 4th July – nice weather, my mom visited

I woke up at 6:15 and had a look of the weather forecasts from the internet as usual (while lying in bed), also I looked out from the window – which we “iDevice” users sometimes forget to do. Weather looked gray outside, but all forecasts were saying that this would be a nice day. I tried to have a short nap before I had to get up, as I’ve been waking up earlier and earlier every morning (night), even I don’t consider myself more stressed than I should at this point. Perhaps I’ve waited for someone (competition directors) asking me to do something more, as even my days were full, still I was asking in my mind should I do something more or should I change my way to work. But hey, worker won’t ask that from the boss, even the boss is your friend. I know that I might have learned some not-common ways to work, since I have my own company and I am my own boss. For example; I don’t want to build a cubical where to work during my free time, table and chair and some space on my left and right is enough.

In the morning we noticed that one of the gliding competition traditions had happened. The FAI flag was stolen during the night. Before that the organization was almost 100% sure that this would be first competition where the flag wouldn’t be stolen. I told them that they have to either take the flag down every evening, or it will be stolen. Others thought that they would be cleverer than the “Flag Stealers”. The flag was attached up with certain ring which is used in HVAC-installations, and the pole was coated with clear Vaseline, and one of the bolts was welded so the flagpole can’t be taken down. This was a good plan, but the welding wasn’t strong enough. The flag stealers didn't remember that according to Annex Z, stealing the FAI flag is allowed only 24 hours prior the prize giving ceremony.  

My mom came to see me and the towings, I was proud to introduce her to as many people as possible. My mom started gliding at Räyskälä before I was born, but she and my dad didn’t have time for flying before 1987 when they decided to come here again. It was anyway great when Mr. Widmer – who was flying here in 1976 – asked if my mom was here then. Nope, no she wasn’t, as she was busy taking care of me and working and studying :-)

I climbed on roof of the fire truck before the towings started and got some photos of the grid from the different angle. This was great, but at some point of the competition I should have climbed on a tow plane parked in front of the grid. As my “should have”-statements are coming, we should have taken the photo of us all, I mean organization, crew and pilots. That could have taken either from the fire truck or the tower, or the crane they used to fix the wi-fi antennas.

The weather appeared to be good and the task setting quite successful since there wasn’t any outlandings. And I almost forgot: I got a ride with Kimmo on Wille’s ATV. We should have done that earlier, it was just great to have a ride to the lake Särkijärvi and back. It was a feeling of a freedom for 10 minutes, like there wouldn’t be any competition (website) to take care of.

Saturday 5th July – last day, farewell party

So this is the last day of the competition. I was wondering; why the competition feels in the beginning like you have a lot of time to do this and that and meet new people - and then suddenly you notice that you have only 2 mornings left. That happened to me. I was counting mornings on practice week, forgot about that on second week when we had four flying days in a row and the routines overtook me, then it was raining on the beginning of last week and suddenly the end of the competition was there.

Quite many people were saying to me today “so, this is the last working day”. I replied “yes it is” and then realized that “actually it isn’t, as we have to wake up early tomorrow morning for the prize giving ceremony and then clean the place up”. They were looking at me like I would have poured bucketful of cold water on them, hmmm…perhaps I was being too realistic and should have smiled instead.

Something overwhelming happened in the briefing. It was normal briefing, but in the end Heikki said that this was the last briefing and said his “thank you”s to all. He got a loud round of applause from everybody, and I mean loud and long, people were standing and applauding. If this would have been a play, he would be back at stage 5 times or so. I am glad I was standing outside, otherwise I would have bursted into tears. Do you know if this has happened before in the competition?

The flying day was again really nice, it was great that the weather was showing what Finnish summer can be like and that we don’t have continuous winter and rain.

I am sorry that I haven’t told you much about the results or how everybody flew, since I think that you can find that out from the results. And being Finn, I couldn’t follow the results objectively, because Antti and Nikke were on the second position on the 20 m multi-seat class. So we all had our fingers crossed for them, of course they couldn’t win, as the Jones brothers were doing history by being daily winners every day (except on the last day). I am glad that Jones brothers are so nice, I think they deserve to win :-P

The farewell party was quite well organized, but it was a shame that they couldn’t have more than 400 people inside due to the safety regulations. Of course the doors were open for everybody later when we were dancing. Oops, sorry, they were dancing. I still don’t understand what happened to me, as I really enjoy dancing, but I wasn’t at the dance floor and I was looking for someone to talk with instead. I mean just someone to chat with, no-one particular.

It was too late when I realized that this was The Farewell Party of our competition and I didn’t go dancing. How sad is that. I found a person to chat with, someone who had heard one thing from somebody who had heard it from somebody who had heard me saying something day before, of course the story had changed “a bit” and the end result had hurt his feelings. It was like a “broken telephone”-game, hopefully you know what I mean. And I had to explain what I had said. We also talked more about why he had hurt his feelings. His feelings were coming from deeper than from my altered comments.

This was also the first farewell party when we didn’t go to sauna, stay up too late or I didn’t have hangover next day. But I have to admit that I hurt my feelings as I saw this guy being hurt from what I’ve said, I mean what he thought what I had said. Sounds like soap opera, doesn’t it.

Sunday 6th July – farewell party, few goodbyes

It was really weird to wake up after decent hours of sleep, which is quite unusual after farewell parties. Also it is quite unusual to have enough of sleep before the prize giving ceremony, which is always held too early on Sunday morning. I would like to suggest that the ceremonies would be arranged on Saturday evening, but hey, what can you do if Saturday is a competition day. Oo, I hoped it would have rained on Saturday, but it didn’t.

Anyway, the prize giving ceremony was arranged with almost same plan as the opening ceremony, some speeches, but not too long or too many of them, concentrating on the reason why we are here; which is contestants.

I didn’t have any other obligation during the prize giving and closing ceremony than taking pictures. I asked Visa to take pictures of the winners, since I always – and I mean always – seem to fail taking those. So I was concentrating on the audience instead. I just hope I would have chosen other lens on my camera. Now I was able to take pictures from distance, but I had to stay close to the audience so the angles weren’t what I hoped for. Like I said, I usually fail taking photos at prize giving ceremony.

Prizes were given and I waited for my tears to come. You might know that usually I am crying at the time of the farewells, but this time the music and speeches weren’t too touching and I am glad of that.

But…you know, after the couple of years preparing, planning, training week and the actual competition, there is just something in there when the President of the Jury says “I declare these 33rd FAI World Gliding Championships closed”, you know that you come to the point when you can say “That’s it, we’re done”. Also Kirsti did something which touched my heart. I’ll tell you what that was, but first I have to tell you some background: During the competition we had a person on the radio telling the wind information at the time of the finishes, and several people asked “whose sound is that”. That sound belongs to Kirsti. Her English, pronunciation and voice is really radio-perfect.  At the closing ceremony she was the announcer, so she didn’t really have that much of freedom saying her own goodbyes.  Also I have to tell that we didn’t have any big-budget airshow after the ceremonies even we would have liked to have that. We had something as great instead, I think. A Hornet (F-18) flyby. I just love the sound of such fighters, when I am in the airshow, and these powerful fighters are doing their routine, my heart almost bursts with joy and I have to hold my tears and stop my lower lip shaking. It doesn’t matter if they are doing either just a flyby or even a tight formation like Frecce Tricolori or Midnight Hawks. The sounds of the engines are overwhelming, at least to me they are.

So what Kirsti did? This woman with a nice tone of voice, not a hint of uncertainty in her voice, said the last words of the closing ceremony: “Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornet from the Karelian air command will arrive. Please look to the west and please cover the ears of children. Wind 120 degrees 5 knots.” Still now, when I am reading that, brings me back to the moment, this nice and calm sunny morning, and the last official words of the competition followed by fast low flyby of a Hornet.

I think that was really ingenious way from Kirsti to bring some personality to her announcements, and remind people of what they’ve heard on flying days. Her voice took people back on the competition, like this would be another evening of finishes.

After that I hid in the container, but still Patrick and Terry found me for goodbyes. Also soon after that it was time to “undo” all the furnishing and setting of the containers. I was surprised how quickly that happened, since preparations took good few days, and we were ready in couple of hours.

After the competition

Weather continued really warm after the championships, which we enjoyed with most of the Aussie team members. We had barbecues every night, but in some point it was time to say goodbye.

In the end I still felt like I didn’t take enough photos, didn’t catch all people on my “film” and didn’t update the site as much as I should. But I did my best. And some of you told me your thank you’s and nice words, and I thank you for that

See you again somewhere, perhaps in JWGC2015 :-)