8th FAI Junior World Gliding Championships 27.0.-11.8.2013 Leszno, Poland

21.7.2013 JWGC preparations

After spending few days in Ostrow I travelled to Leszno with Enrique (EL). Enrique Levin is from Germany and follows the footsteps of his brother Felipe (you might have heard of him if you have followed the previous JWGCs). Enrique spent four weeks in Finland this June. He participated in preWGC in Räyskälä and also in Club class nationals in Teisko. I think he managed quite well, as he was third in Teisko.

When I stepped outside from Enrique's car in Leszno, it looked like Ostrow had moved to Leszno, quite many familiar faces which I met in Ostrow had already arrived. From gliding competition to other, could you do that?

During this summer I have been busy with local gliding competitions in Finland, so I didn’t have time for JWGC13 as much as I wanted. Michal, Wojtek and everybody else have been working long days to have things as ready as they are now. After my arrival it was my turn to concentrate more on the competition and give my helping hand to them.

Setting the website in “competition mode” will take couple of days. Pilot introductions are on the site already, but I would like to introduce the organization as well, people who are making this all possible. But it is difficult as everybody is running around, and if they have a peaceful moment, it’s time to go to bed and nobody wants to look in the picture that they would need a) shower b) 12 h sleep c) 4 weeks vacation.

Bob Bickers arrived in the evening, and I was brave enough to take my wine glass and go talk to him in the restaurant. After few minutes talk we realized we have seen (not really met, but seen) in Räyskälä 1996, when Bob was the UK team captain in EGC.

I remember from EGC ‘96 this impressive man with white mustache, bowler hat (the black round one), who was dressed like proper English gentleman. He was introducing the secrets of cricket to everybody with UK team, as it wasn’t flying day.

Anyway, now we sat there together enjoying the dark and warm Polish night, talking about gliding in Finland and UK, JWGC, common friends, etc. German team was there as well, and their mosquito repellent was really needed. The weather in the evening was warm enough to sit outside dressed like you were during the day, but the mosquitoes are too thirsty for blood, and I think mosquitoes are relatives to vampires as those start eating you after the sunset, not before.

23.7.2013 Monday & Tuesday - Preparations continue

Monday and Tuesday went really fast, some were flying and more teams arrived. I promise to go outside and see what is happening, but certain preparations have to be done so I don’t have to wonder daily routines when it’s too late.

We had first briefing on Tuesday morning, technical inspections and briefing is taking place in the same hangar. So the tables and chairs have to be moved back and forth to make space for the technical inspections and to set up the briefing area. Also some video and audio settings have to be done (Kimmo S., I wish you were here to do your magic).

This is why we have days for practicing and everything doesn’t have to be ready instantly. We have time until next weekend, after opening ceremony we all – pilots and organization – have to be ready for the real action. Hopefully then we won’t have time for wondering how things should have been done. I mean if we won’t have time to wonder those things, it means that we have nice weather and will get lots of flying days.

The evening went as usual, we sat in the hotel restaurant enjoying refreshing drinks.

24.7.2013 Wednesday – First official training day

Maps arrived and were taken fast from my hands just before the briefing, of course we have more of them in the office. Today is the first official training day, and tasks were given in the briefing. But even this is official training day, flying isn’t mandatory. Our steward Richard (Dick) Bradley reminded that if someone flies the task, they have to give the igc files for scoring. Also he reminded that if person will fly the task and will be penalized for hazardous flying for example, the penalty points will stay and that person will start the championships with minus points.

This was a good point, as I heard that there was some “stunt flying” (as someone said) on Monday, meaning low passing etc. Of course it is understandable if you are happy to be here. And what else pilots would do to celebrate that than doing low passing. That is what we do when we have fun, isn’t it. Perhaps it would be good idea to have a look where and how you do that…?

From time to time there was a queue behind the registration office door, and technical inspection group is still busy in the hangar. During afternoon it felt like the whole airfield was on slow motion, most of the gliders were flying and nobody was sitting in the pools. When I was standing at the parking area and had a look around, I couldn’t see anybody but Swiss team sitting in their team tent. And one certain Dutch guy relaxing in the sun – perhaps yesterday evening was too exhausting Wink

25.7.2013 Thursday – training week continues

This was first morning when we didn’t wake up with clear blue sky. Yesterday evening we sat with bunch of people in our new hangar bar and watched how southern sky was dark, it looked like old Cumulonimbus had exploded and spread out on the sky. German team was quite sure that this wouldn’t be a flying day.

There were almost right. Our met man saw that there should be a window for flying during the day. Wojtek told me it might be that we start late and finish early. As it looked so difficult, it became “no task today” day. Free flying was possible, and all rules and penalty points would apply still. It became really hot day, and some went flying. Some were rather enjoying in their pools.

In the evening I found people doing dinner, Swiss are eating spaghetti bolognese, South Africa is eating chicken and vegetables. British are having barbecue, and that’s where I am going as well.

We had an idea that we need a place where to invite people for a barbecue or playing volleyball, the underground site like we had in JWG09 and JWGC11. This time it will be closed group in facebook. So pilots, team captains and crew: if you are not yet in the group, just ask me or someone else to add you in there. There are already members from USA, Lithuania, Switzerland, UK, Germany and Poland. Teams: join the group and feel free to use it!

After having a great grilled meal, we went to have a beer (or few) in the hangar bar. The evening ended quite late, and we felt ourselves “sparkling intelligent” and couldn’t go to sleep as we had so many good ideas about life and everything.

26.7.2013 Friday – Hot last practice day, almost finished

The briefing tables were turned 90 degrees and the slideshow is now on the back wall. Also we have better projector and tables were yesterday signed for each country. Preparations are almost done, there were only few gliders which were waiting for the technical inspection, and only few pilots and couple of team captains had to register. When those are done we are even closer being ready for the championships and real action.

I went in the grid to take some pictures, the weather was really hot already then – and it was only 12:00 o’clock. Tasks were 299 and 358 km, I think almost all pilots went flying.

Many pilots were happy after their flights, few of them said this was some of the best weather they had flown – in Poland.

Edit: Ailsa (YU) from Australia had lost all power during the flight. Flight recorder has separate battery, but all other equipments were just dead during the rest of the flight. So she had to land without a radio. Beryl, the Australian team captain had asked why she didn’t call her, so they would know that she was landing. Hmm…because the phone had dropped from her pocket when she sat in the glider and the phone had slipped under the seat. Hmm...if things start to go wrong, it goes really wrong. She was anyway laughing when she told this story.

Unfortunately you can see from the results that six pilots will start their championships with minus points, not much, as they got only 25 or 50 penalty points each, most of them were because of crossing the road too low. There is a road going by the airfield, and the finish line crosses the road, so organization hopes for higher finishes.

It’s good that we have so many links to different blogs, you can see from there what is going on. UK blog revealed that they were going to “let their hair down” this evening, as Saturday will be opening ceremony and that won’t be a flying day, and on Sunday everybody wants to be in good shape for the first flying day.

There are always some pranks in the international gliding competitions, usually those have something to do with the flags, especially the FAI flag. Little birds told me that flags were the target last night as well, but plans were ruined by the airfield security.

Remember, you can’t steal the FAI flag before the last night, that’s written in Annex Z.

27.7.2013 Saturday – opening ceremony

It was a warm morning but overcast on the sky.

The day started with short briefing and weather information. Wojtek asked if someone would need towings today, only few hands rose up.

Day went by in relaxed mode. Quite many team members spent their day by the lake (or by the pool). Team captains meeting was only thing to interrupt this lazy day. Some people came from that meeting with quite exhausted faces, and our Jury member Janusz said it was the longest team captain meeting he has ever been in, the meeting lasted 2h 45min.

The opening ceremony took place by the briefing hangar. First team marched there with Leszno city brass band playing, then we heard Polish and FAI anthems and some speeches and of course the declaration that championships are officially opened. Then we had a short air show, first gliding aerobatics, then autogiro and parachutists and last but not least 11 tug planes made formation flyby. There were quite many people, including VIPs from Leszno city. Quite nice opening ceremony and anyway, convenient as well as it was at the airfield.

It was quite relaxed feeling in the restaurant afterwards, some were preparing the maps, VIPs had coffee and some had dinner. The evening continued in the hangar, the band was playing and some were dancing, actually the music made people jump up and down and not dancing. Later there might have been some dancing on the table ;-)

The competition is now officially open.

Are you ready:
Wake up early for new competition day?
Make preparations for the day?
Wait for the towings to start?
Wait for the towings to finish?
Wait for the pilots to start the task?
Wait for the pilots to come back from the task?
Find things to do while you are waiting?
Get to know new people?
Talk with other people than your team only?
Stay up (too late) and enjoy the nice company?
Have lots of fun?
Accept several new facebook friends?
And miss it all in the autumn..?

I am...so here we go!

28.7.2013 Sunday – 1st competition day

As usual I had breakfast at the restaurant terrace (alone). Suddenly I felt like there was a drop on my hand, but didn’t believe it would be rain. Soon I collected my plate and ran inside as suddenly short but heavy rain shower fell down. I think I heard some thunder as well. Air mass felt quite moist, and I asked Wojtek are we going to fly today. I was thinking would pilots have to fly in between the thunderstorms. Wojtek said that of course we are flying.

Briefing started 9.30, half an hour earlier than usual. We went through all the procedures and Dick said few words of the safety, reminding everybody that people should remember also the loved ones, how hard it would be to them if something serious did happen. Well spoken.

The air mass had changed quite rapidly and at the time when towings were supposed to start (at 12.00), the sky was clear and temperature close to +30. Some high cloud (I would say overcast) was lurking in the horizon and affecting the task area. So the towings were postponed quite many times 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Practically we were stuck in the grid and trying to find shadow. I sat for awhile with team Italy and we remembered JWGC2009 and Räyskälä. Silva, people still remember you – in a good way - and many people have said that JWGC2009 was so far the best JWGC. Let’s see how things are after Leszno ;-)

More people than usual hang out with UK team glider, as “the party animals” Ali and Ben arrived yesterday evening. It seems that they are like magnets, if you know what I mean.

New shorter tasks were given to team captains, and temperature was rising to too hot for me. I had to take the trick in use which I learned in Sudan: wet a towel and wrap it around your head. It helps really. And thank you team Lithuania for giving me a space under your umbrella, it would be great to have one of you as my assistant so I could walk around in the shadow but use both hands for shooting photos.

Even it was hot, I heard that it wasn’t hot enough, as the temperature should have got 4 degrees higher for thermals to start. The sniffer plane (SZD-54-2 Perkoz) was towed three times in the air before he could find anything than “positive zero”. After more than two hours of waiting the task for club class was cancelled, some 20 minutes later the standard class task was cancelled as well. No flying today.

But it seems that grid and weighing worked well, so this was good practice. Of course it would have been better if competitors could have started the championships with good flying day, I think it would break the ice.

Today I got a new member in the website team, Jan Jawornik will write the facebook stream, take photos and write news on Polish site.

In the evening I saw few – mostly Austrian guys – walking on a rope, which was installed between two trees and not very high (luckily) close to the camping area gate. After a short walk around the camping area, Michael was lying on the ground with ice on his knee and someone asked if I knew is there a doctor at the airfield. I called to Wojtek, he said that only doctor is at the city and we can call to emergency. Guys were laughing already, so I thought the situation must not be too bad.

Then I found myself sitting by the volleyball yard (in the audience) with one Swiss (Gregory) and one Norwegian (Alex) who were first talking French together, but changed in English when I arrived. I had a taste of Swiss wine and heard how widely wine is made in Switzerland. That was quite surprising actually, as when I buy wine, I don’t see separate Swiss section at liquor shop.

Edit: Alex is quite interesting combination: he is living in Switzerland, flying for Norway team with French glider and has crew from Switzerland. Quite international, isn’t it.

After the volleyball game we decided to have dinner together, which was great as I don’t like eating alone. We ended up with French team at the terrace. And there we were, Norwegian, Swiss and French guys speaking French together, I was missing the subtitles, as only French I understand is food vocabulary and “merde”. They told stories, and then said that nothing was worth translating, and laughed. Hmh.

Then I realized something. I realized why UK team is so popular. It’s because of their language. Other English speaking countries like Australia, USA (and South Africa) have smaller teams, so it’s easy for them to join the UK team, as everybody can speak their own language. Also UK team is big on its own, so they have lots of space at their camping and so there is always space for visitors. And if you spend time with those teams who don’t speak English by birth, they are forced to change the language in English, if they want to make the visitor to feel comfortable. I don’t want to force anybody to speak the language they don’t want to speak.

So that might be one of the reasons why there are some groups which are usually spending time together, the groups are divided by the language, French, German and English...and of course the atmosphere is one big reason as well.

But still I would like to encourage people - also the French – to speak with other teams than their own. Perhaps you might get new friends and become more confident in English language. Well, you might think why that common language should be English…if I could decide, we all would speak Finnish Tongue out

In the evening we all got SMS message “Meteo warning: dissipating storm may create wind gusts of 75 km/h about 3-6 AM”. Swiss team put their drinks in the restaurant fridge and went into the darkness to de-rig their glider. Quite brave actually, as they told me when they came back that there were millions of mosquitoes waiting for them.

I woke up at night and could see the coming storm as there were lightning, but no sound yet. I didn’t hear the storm after that, except that one in the morning around 9.

29.7.2013 Monday  – 2nd competition day

Briefing was postponed until 11.00, tasks were given and towings were supposed to start at 13.15. Weather forecast looked like from yesterday, Cumulonimbus in the morning, and dry after that. Otherwise this was repetition of yesterday, except that sun wasn’t shining, so the temperature was quite nice. Task was cancelled on Club class and quite soon after that on Standard class.

Wojtek told me that the Club class is cancelled first, because they have more competitors. So if we will use all 11 tow planes for towing the Standard class, it will take shorter time than if we would tow the Club class instead. And that gives more time for the actual flying part, if the towings won’t last too long.

After day was cancelled quite many de-rigged their gliders immediately, as met man told in the briefing that there is a possibility that there might be thunderstorms again in the evening.

This day felt like a Monday, if you know what I mean. I had problems with phone and with some websites and so on. But those problems were solved as fast as they appeared, so everything should be ok now. (knocking on wood…).

The God of Weather must have found us, and is sending bad flying weather here. Anyway, this hot non-flying weather is much better than having snow and rain instead. (knocking on wood again)

I had dinner at the city with Bob and Dick this evening. We found a nice place from the central square, which obviously was quite popular and it looked like it was “Leszno airfield goes to Leszno city”, Team Netherlands, part of the Team Germany had chosen the same place, soon UK Team captain arrived and waitresses started to arrange a big table, as the whole UK team with team USA arrived.

Back at the airfield the restaurant was full of people who had escaped from the camping area as there was a storm coming. We stood in front of the restaurant door before the heavy rain fell down and were amazed by the nature’s lightning show. 

30.7.2013 Tuesday – 3rd competition day

Will this be first flying day? The sky was grey in the morning and flags were straight out from the poles. I can see the flags from my hotel window, and noticed that one blue flag (the FAI flag) was missing. Let’s see who will return it - remember, if the flag is stolen outside of the “allowed period”, the flag should be returned with formal apologies and crate of beer. That is written in Annex Z (

The briefing was postponed until 11.00, and grid was opened only for Standard class. Day for Club class was cancelled in the briefing. Towings were supposed start 13.15, and had to be postponed only for 15 minutes. The sky looked pretty good, but the wind was really strong, so quite many hats were hunted around the grid. Boyd (USA) said that it was good decision to keep Club class in the ground. Club class gliders are not that “slippery” as Standard class gliders are, and we were laughing that in this wind the club class gliders might be flying backwards. First a glide, then thermalling, and then you might find yourself at the same point where you started the glide.

Towings were quite efficient I must say, with 11 tow planes (didn’t count actually) the whole thing took only 30 minutes, and start line was opened at 14.20. Those who are in the grid are not allowed to leave the grid before the towings are over, so after that last tow left, we waited like formula drivers for the green light and had a race back to the hangars.

Task was only 1,5 h AAT task, so there wasn’t much time for doing anything else but wait.

I sat with some of the British team at the bar. Today Charlie Jordan was 4th and he told that the day was actually quite good, as he didn’t have to turn that much, just flying straight. His face was quite happy. I am really glad for him, as I am for the daily winner Roman (SUI), he flew really well, with average speed 120 km/h. Even some of the adults can’t reach that on a day like today.

Enrique Levin (GER) was with happy face as well, but laughing because German team had made almost all the possible mistakes, flying in wrong direction etc. Hopefully Uli (Gmelin) isn’t too hard on them on the debriefing.

Well, as the task was so short, it will be devalued day, meaning that the winner won’t get 1000 points. So the winner got only 191 points more than the last one.

The evening continued quite late, and in the future I have to write down all the brilliant ideas we will have, as now I can’t remember any of those. Except that I did forgive the French Team, as they were speaking English Smile

31.7.2013 Wednesday – 4th competition day

What to write of a day which is like two previous days? We had briefing in the morning at 10.00, towings were supposed to start at 13.00, but were postponed for an hour or half an hour at a time, until the Standard class was cancelled first, followed by the cancellation of Club class as well.

While waiting gliders had to be parked in the grid properly, because of the heavy winds and powerful rain shower went over the airfield.

Later Benjamin (French team captain) was wondering why this competition doesn’t feel as fun as previous years. I must say that I don’t see that, people are playing volleyball, hanging out until late hours at night, and everybody is really friendly. I tried to be gentle when I told him that perhaps French are not having that special time as they are spending their time only together. And they should not stay away even they wouldn’t speak perfect English. Also team South Africa and Danish said exactly the same thing. How else would you learn to speak new language if not speaking? Perhaps we will see French guys more. They are quite pretty to look at (I know, I know, guys aren’t pretty, but some of them are nice looking guys, like quite many here are as well), so I hope they will come out more often from their rooms.

But on the other hand Benjamin had a good point. Karting has been tradition in JWGC, but I’ve heard there isn’t one close to Leszno (or at all in Poland), here is restaurant and volleyball court (beach volley actually). So here is a challenge to you guys: come up with something what we can do and how we can make this JWGC memorable.

1.8.2013 Thursday – 5th competition day

Finally a flying day for both classes! This morning the sky was clear, but I noticed some high cloud on the horizon. The satellite image confirmed that there was some frontal system coming from North-West and that Leszno was already surrounded by it. I heard that it was raining at the German border as well. On my morning walk cloud covered the sun and temperature dropped, it didn’t look good at all.

Still there was a grid in the morning, and all gliders were ready despite of the depressing looking weather. Briefing was at 10.00 as normally, and met man told that the air mass is going to dry, and there should be some cumulus today. Towings were supposed to start at 11.30 but were postponed until 12.00. At that time sky looked really nice, with some cumulus wave as well.

Tasks were 248,3 km for Club class and 3,5 hour AAT for Standard Class. Start lines were open just around 13.00. Most of the pilots came back, and just some of them came back with trailer.

We had international evening, and for that I made some research which tables should be first on my list. Quite many of the teams trusted in local food and local schnapps or beer.

Swedish told me that they were going to have surströmming and perhaps some schnapps, UK was going to do mini Yorkshire puddings with beef and Pimm’s, German trusted in beer and Maultaschen, USA was planning to do tacos and tequila. Russians were really mysterious and said “we’re going to do the normal”, which could mean vodka?

In the evening UK team told that they had made more than 300 mini Yorkshire puddings, but quite many of them got eaten while they were doing more.

Dick Bradley left home today, and I didn’t have a chance to say bye. Well, I would have burst burst into tears, so it’s better this way. Bye Dick, I still can hear your voice in my head and remember our talks about facebook (be more active there!). It was great to have those dinners with you and Bob, hopefully we will see in the future.

2.8.2013 Friday – 6th competition day

Oh, why don’t they arrange parties before resting day, so you would be able to stay up as late as you want and you wouldn’t have to worry how many drinks you can have. Also the pilots would be able to participate and wouldn’t have to go to bed too early.

My stomach last night was quite full after having Australian snag (sausage, bread and salad), Great Britain mini Yorkshire pudding (three of them actually) with beef and horseradish sauce and a glass of Pimm’s, USA taco (omnomnom), Swedish crisp bread with Kalles kaviar (roe spread), salty liquorice and cider (non-alcoholic), more Pimm’s, Slovakian cheese, French cheese and rosé, German Maultaschen, few strawberries and chocolate fondue from Belgium, Russian vodka, Swiss chocolate, piece of Lithuanian cake tower, Danish pastry, Italian pasta, Australian and French red wine and South African tea drink. Of course I was offered all of those weird colored (or clear) local vodka etc. drinks as well, which you would have to drink while the person who gave that to you is following your face and hoping for some reaction.

While enjoying some of Ali’s music selections and drinking Dutch orange “lemonade”, I saw a stash of bottles, which clearly were stolen from other countries tables. Nicolai, your lost bottle was there as well.

Do you remember when I told you about those Austrian guys walking on a rope and one guy hurting his knee couple of days ago? Well, I saw Michael (AUT) yesterday for the first time after that incident. It seems that it wasn’t that small injury, as he was walking with crutches and hinged leg brace. Finally they had found a doctor, who first was thinking that the leg would be broken. But it was better news than that, as it seems that only the ligaments were damaged.

Also I heard what has made French guys more social. Some days ago I wrote about their team captain (Benjamin) asking why it is so boring here. Well, French Team managed to play volleyball with Danish team on that same evening, I guess that broke the ice. Well done. Teemu S., we still need you, you would be perfect putting up ex tempore parties etc. fun.

We have been here for almost for two weeks, a bit more than one week is left. There is some “pairing” going on…if you know what I mean. That’s not for me of course, as I try to protect myself from having heartache. Even saying good bye next Thursday will be difficult. Yes, next week this time I will be at home and I won’t be in the farewell party.

The sky was really bright last night (beautiful stars Smile) and the night was quite chilly. This morning the sky was still clear, and it was quite hot before the briefing. It became also very hot day in the grid, without any clouds. Jan went flying in the sniffer plane, and told that there were some cumulus clouds some 30 km from Leszno. We didn’t see any of those during the day here at the airfield.

I sat with Team GB for awhile and we tried to tell Charlie that he should win the day. Other British guys must have heard that, as Luke was first and Matt was second in Standard class. It was quite long day, as it was 4 hour AAT task for Club class and 372 km for Standard class.

Here is this one really professional photographer who takes really good pictures, and I mean REALLY good. Anyway, I followed his example and went to see the finishes just on the edge of the airfield. The airfield ends on whey field, which has been just cut, so there isn’t any place where you could hide if someone finishes low. So there I was waiting for good pictures, and had some uncomfortable moments when I wanted to run either left or right, but realized that if I’m standing, pilot sees all of us and will try to avoid hitting us.

Then came one plane with low energy and I wanted to run, but realized it’s better to crouch and hope for the best. When the plane had passed me, I decided to leave as soon as possible. Sorry, but I think taking a good photo at the expense of your own life just isn’t a good idea.

The evening was quite peaceful, and I went to the Pizza Hut with Bob. Part of Netherlands team came there as well. Did you know that people visit Pizza Hut from here, not necessarily because of the food, but fast and free wifi.

3rd August – 7th Competition day – more blue thermals

This was another hot day. Met man warned in the briefing that there is a front over Germany and heading towards Leszno. Depending on its route, we might have thunder again this evening.

Until so far we have had runway 24 in use but today that changed as we were on the runway 06. The Standard class is always on the South side and Club class on the North side on the grid.

The air mass was very dry today, so there weren’t any clouds marking the thermals. But we had something else instead, as we had yesterday as well. We have gaggles instead. We have for example seen big gaggles over the airfield, more than 25 gliders in the same thermal. It’s funny to see that the gaggle is actually like shape of a funnel, narrow on bottom and wide on top. I think - and hope – that pilots have been warned too many times that while flying in gaggle you should keep your eyes open and try not to do any solo acts.

The volleyball court is not in our use this weekend, as there is some tournament today and tomorrow. I can hear short whistles coming from there, perhaps I should go and see who are playing and is it proper beach volley = half-naked men, I hope ;-)

Hmm…talking about being half-naked…it would be great to try one of those pools in a good company. I am too shy – or busy with work during the day – so I can’t just jump in your pool. In a hot day like this it would be great to sit in the water and hear about you. I would be glad to write about all of you guys, but usually when we see, it’s either time for towings, or landings or time to cook dinner. And last thing I want to do is disturb you while you are concentrating on day’s task or thinking how your day went. So if you have time, come and tell me your story, it’s not too late yet. I promise to make notes, so I will remember it in the morning ;-)

After writing that, I went outside and saw P3 (Kristian from Denmark) and his crew were preparing de-rigging the glider. We laughed with Anne that my Jedi-trick must have worked, as Kristian had flown quite well. I did “Jedi-trick” in the grid to Kristian, as he seemed quite stressed because the towings started surprisingly soon, and there wasn’t any waiting like there have been on previous days. Also he was first ones to launch. You know from Star Wars how Jedis do that mind trick, moving the hand and telling for example “you will let me go”. Same way I told to Kristian: “You feel calm, you know what you are doing, and you will see all the thermals and your glider will be slippery today”. He didn’t win, but he was 11th and his team was quite happy.

As we spoke, suddenly we heard several Club class pilots saying on radio “10 km” announcements. It’s a shame that I didn’t have a good camera with me, as this would have been good situation to get pictures of several gliders landing at the same time. What a pity.

The weather was extremely hot, and we didn’t believe those warnings of thunderstorm possibility, as the horizon looked very peaceful. Then I got my first invitation to the pool, to the Danish pool! What a pity that YM landed out, and Danish guys had to go help him to carry the glider out from the field. He had actually finished the task, but had to turn back from the finish ring and land. So we had to go to the pool by ourselves with Anne, no boys…hmmh. Anyway, it felt so good that I said that Anne can find me from the pool whenever I am not working.

Later I saw some of those Club class pilots who had landed in a group. Their task was only 172 km, but they had flown more than 3 hours, because of the dry weather. They were really exhausted (I saw Elena and Claudio) and I didn’t want to trouble them with more questions.

I had dinner with Alfred Gai and his wife Gabi and “family Levin”, and we tried to guess tomorrow’s weather. After the dinner I saw Wojtek in the corridor and asked his opinion of coming days. He told me that they will have a meeting soon, as we could have rest day either on Sunday or Monday, since the weather seems poor on both days. They just want to choose the poorer one. I tried to convince him that best would be if the decision was made in the evening, so people can let their hair down, if you know what I mean. Then I had Gin and Tonic with Team Switzerland, and tried to have a look of tomorrow’s weather from my iPad. I didn’t have to try that very long, as soon our phones were beeping. Message was “4.08. is declared a rest day. No briefing, no meetings. Come back on Monday! Soon the bar was full of people and Jakub asked would people like to go dancing. Of course I was willing to go. 15 minutes after that came other message: ”Meteo warning: possible thunderstorm with gusts up to 70km/h after 2 AM”. I went looking for Weronika, as she has been asking me to come dancing with her. I had a look around the camping area, but couldn’t find her. Then I saw the horizon, which wasn’t that calm anymore. It looked like flashing cauliflower. I mean the sky was dark, but when the lightning struck, in the horizon was an outline of cauliflower shaped clouds. Thunder was still far away, as I couldn’t hear the sound at all.

From there starts a long story of a) clubbing in Poland b) how this blog affects on people c) cultural differences.

After I came back from the club, we sat at the restaurant terrace with Belgian team (and some others). We followed the upcoming thunder. I was a bit scared of the lightning, but someone (sorry, can’t remember who that was, perhaps Niel or Rik) said that I don't have to be scared as they are only taking pictures for the Google Earth. That was a good one! Laughing

4.8.2013 Sunday – resting day

This was a resting day, and I had a plan that I would write about what I learnt on our visit to Demon (the club in Leszno). But then I realized, that even this is my personal blog about happenings in JWGC there are some things which I just can’t write because this blog IS a part of the JWGC website. I try to avoid “collisions” between teams, countries and organization.

Let me just say that if I like to start my blog with phrase “Here we go”, there usually comes point in competitions that I want to use the phrase “ok, it’s that time again”. Meaning that we have been at the airfield for two weeks now, and it starts to show. If you take 80 pilots with their crew, team captains, organization, local people and parents and try to keep them in small area mostly gridding but not necessarily flying but waiting several hours instead for weather to improve in really hot weather, it really affects on people. There haven’t been that many bad days, when it would have been obvious already in the morning that it won’t be flying day. The waiting part is actually quite hard. It’s much easier when the day goes fast with schedule like: preparations, breakfast, briefing, towings, finishes, dinner and finally to bed. Luckily we have had those days as well.

So I noticed that people aren’t anymore as polite as they were in the beginning of the competition, and things come out from their mouth much easier than in the beginning. Also for some people it is impossible to like everybody here. That is what I mean by saying “it’s that time again”, as we are in that point now.

Sunday anyway was resting day for everybody. After having 2 hours sleep I woke up at 7 and noticed that strong thunderstorm was finally over the airfield. I followed the show for awhile and fell back at sleep, remembering that they’re only taking photos for the Google Earth.

I spent the resting day with Danish team, first in shopping centre Galeria Leszno, where we had lunch and after that went swimming to Akwawit aquapark. There were three water slides, couple of pools for kids, two Jacuzzi and one 25 m pool with swimming tracks. So we were mostly using the waterslides. I was brave enough to use the dark slide as well and I think it was the best one.

But the aquapark system was quite weird to us – to the Scandinavians I mean. First you pay 15 (?) zloty, and then you get a key and a magnetic card. With the card you can go through the gate. Locker rooms are separate for men and women. Until this far the system is quite normal. Then you find a locker and change into your swimming suit. You can either change it standing with everybody else, which is normal in Scandinavia. But at least in the ladies locker room were also separate changing booths, where you can change the clothes behind a curtain. Anyway it is good to put the swimming suit on in the locker room, as the showers are both for men and women. So we were quite confused as we are accustomed to wash yourselves before going to public swimming pool, washing yourself is quite difficult when you have swimming suit on.

After you have had shower, the pools are quite normal. There is also a sauna, but it’s downstairs at the wellness & spa area, and you need your magnetic card to get there. So after swimming, back to the locker, get the key, go downstairs and through the gate and give your card to reception lady. If you’ve been in wellness & spa centers, you know what kind of place that was. I won’t explain it. Anyway, there was steam sauna (no steam, quite cold actually) and Finnish sauna (hot and dry, as there wasn’t water which you could throw on stones) and small cool pool with water like 10 degrees or so.

When you have been in sauna and want to go swimming, ask your magnetic card back and go through gate and climb upstairs. Of course first you have to take the card back to the locker, as you don’t want to lose it.

The Jacuzzi was quite normal, but the water in it was suspiciously yellow, if you know what I mean. Also they seem to trust in chlorine, as our eyes and skin was reacting on that. After soaking in the pools, it would be good to have a shower, but you have to do it with your swimming suit on. After putting your normal clothes on, you will go through other gate than which you used to get in, give your magnetic card and key to the lady and she might ask more money from you. I spent less time in the sauna(!) and paid 9,50 more. Jens and Christian paid a bit more than 7 zloty each and Nicolai, Anne and Kristian paid 6,80. Perhaps one day I will learn why I paid more than they did.

Ahh, I almost forgot that Belgian team came there as well, they had tried to go to the lake, but it was closed and swimming was forbidden. If I understood it right, there was found some kind of disease (illness), I hope it wasn’t actually deceased (dead body), as those sound quite similar to me Tongue out

We had dinner at the market place in Leszno, and I have to go there once more before I leave, as the steaks are just amazing. This was very nice resting day, and we should be ready for tomorrow.

5.8.2013 Monday – one week left

I like these “fast action” days. I mean that towings weren’t postponed and it took only 50 minutes to launch everybody. Also the temperature was quite nice, not too hot, the weather was actually really nice as we had some clouds as well.

Also pilots were quite happy afterwards, as the weather was quite pleasant compared to the blue thermals. Unfortunately one of my favorites (Charlie Jordan, UK) couldn’t make it, but had to land out. On a good day like this was it means losing too many points. But I am glad as Niel Deijgers won the day, and he is other of my favorites (yes, I have many favorites here ;-) ). I walked at the camping area in the evening, and Belgian team was really happy as Neil was first and Jeroen third in Club class, and Thomas was fifth on Standard class. Well done!

Leszno have founded a team cup for JWGC, it’s really nice trophy and I am going to introduce it on the homepage soon.

The day went again really fast, as I said this was “fast action” day. In the evening I had dinner at the same place as yesterday, this time Bob and Australian team invited me with them. It was really nice dinner! The evening continued at the bar, but as I saw that there is certain atmosphere (drinking, drinking and more drinking), I decided to leave just after midnight. I could hear certain “party animal” singing drinking songs outside half an hour later, and at the same time someone was throwing up behind my window. Hmmm, what a party that must have been…

6.8.2013 Tuesday – 10th competition day

Towings were going to start at 11.30, and after one hot hour of waiting in the grid, the towings started at 12.30. We heard in the briefing that the air mass is very dry, and there won’t be any clouds today. Luckily met man got that slightly wrong, and some cumulus was popping on sky during the launches.

By the way, I was going to tell about safety committee. Safety committee is formed at the beginning of the competition. The members of committee member are always stewards with two pilots who are selected by the competitors.  Actually, nowadays usually the stewards will search for best candidates and make a proposal of two pilots. The proposal is based on the pilots’ safety history (= lack of incidents) and also they are usually good in English language. Our safety pilots are Boyd Willat (USA) and Peter Millenaar (NED). Actually, I like to think that usually safety pilots are quite outgoing and easy to approach, but still quite…well, not peaceful but definitely not “party animals” either, if you know what I mean.

We have also a safety box, which is usually decorated cheerfully. I had the honor to decorate our safety box with Leszno maps and stickers. The safety box is meant for the reports like “almost an incident” or “It was a near go!”. Stewards were quite surprised that after first blue thermal (and day of gaggles) there weren’t any notes, as those days usually do cause notes in safety box. Two days ago I heard that one note was put in the box, and yesterday just before the briefing I saw Boyd and Peter talking with one pilot (gladly I don’t remember who that was and wouldn’t tell even I would), they were standing heads together and clearly the discussion had a bit more serious tone than usually. We have safety minute in the briefing daily, and yesterday it was about joining the busy thermal. So those notes on safety box usually are giving a reason to have that safety minute in the morning.

The day went fast, in the grid I enjoyed my borrowed 100-400 mm lens and got my confidence back. Thanks William, I am going to hold that for Wednesday as well! I am glad that Reto Frei won today, as on previous days he has been telling me (quite direct) that he doesn’t like the color of my shirt (blue). Well done Reto, winning the day I mean :-) Sadly two of my several favorites landed out, Kristian (P3, Denmark) and Enrique (EL, Germany).

In the evening Team Captains and a part of the organization had dinner with local President - or Mayor. So I was looking for some company for dinner, as of course my usual company for dinner – that’s Bob – was at the official dinner. Then I went looking for best option I could think of, the Danish team I mean, and found Jens and Chris sitting at their team tent waiting for Nicolai, Anne and Kristian coming back from the “field trip”. We waited for them and had quite late dinner at the restaurant. My stomach feeling too full I went back to the terrace and luckily found few guys (UK and DEN) having a beer and wondering why the restaurant is so empty – and actually closed.

Then suddenly the wind started blowing, actually it felt like a storm.

7.8.2013 Wednesday – difficult weather

The weather this morning was quite wet after the storm last night, and met man promised low clouds and high clouds for today. Launches started but soon Standard class task was cancelled. Club class continued flying their task, which was C or D task, finally a 1,5 h AAT task. Weather was quite good for sunbathing, but obviously poor for gliding.

The airfield was pretty quiet in the afternoon and evening, as all landed out in Club class. And it seems that this won’t be valid day, as we need 13 or more who would have flown more than 100 km. At this point it looks like there’s only5 of those.

This was my last evening and I invited myself to UK/AUS barbecue, where I had really good time. Also I had a verry short but bit more serious conversation with UK team captain, and I want to assure him and you, the those things happen. Finns: it's nothing important, UK: Simon will tell you later.

8.8.2013 Thursday – few days to go, my last day in Leszno

Polish evening will be in the evening, I heard that there will be wild boar for food and you are allowed to bring your own drinks there. So have a good time!

I have packed my bags and will go home today, my train leaves at briefing time, so it’s time to say goodbye. I will continue monitoring the website from Finland, but mostly Jan, Michal and Wojtek will update the site from now on. That means that my blog ends here. Ahh…as Wojtek said, this blog doesn’t actually end, it just stops for awhile. I will put this blog on my site www.gliding.fi and all the photos I’ve taken will be there as well. I think I might add some more personal twist in there, and definitely going to write that story of clubbing in Poland with big crowd from Leszno airfield.

This has been really nice experience, so thank you Wojtek and gliding school Leszno for having me here. Thank you also all the pilots, team members, helpers etc. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life. I hope you will have really nice end of the competition.

Next year I will be working at least in Räyskälä www.wgc2014.fi, I’m going to work in the organization, doing the same thing I did here. I don’t know if I am able to come to JWGC2015 to Australia, but if they need help with the website or need experienced organization members, I am available ;-) It would be great to go to the competition during darkest Finnish winter, and meet all of you again.

Also thank you all who sent me email and gave me really good feedback of this blog, it feels good to know that someone actually enjoys reading these stories.

Anyway, if you don’t have anything to do, come to Räyskälä, you are warmly welcome!

The End