Rest days are mandatory non-flying days after six flying days. But the rest day can be moved due to weather conditions or other constraining factors. In this European Championship a “day of flying” is a day when the launch window has been opened and at least one competitor launches.
After six (long) flying days for most of the pilots, we welcomed a well deserved rest. But before the rest day we had the Pilots Party!!!!!! The party started with a dinner based in finger foods (not really appreciated). The room was filled with talkings about flights, thermals, low saves and long glides from previous days. Andy Hollidge, a British pilot, told us a scary story of getting lost in a dirty road near the border with Greece and being interrogated by Polish policemen in three cars (I saw pictures!). Apparently they only got away after showing the card written in Macedonian that we show to locals with information about the competition and asking for help. He was visible shaken by the prospect of being ‘disappeared’, what an unexpected danger in our sport!
After dinner things started getting more party like. Paul Harvey a British rigid wing pilot was amazing us with fantastic tricks with cards and dices. Then the Karaoke started and Emiel put everybody to sing and dance with two professional performances: Ring of Fire and New York, New York.
In every competition the Party has a different flavor. Yesterday the flavor was definitely ‘Rakija’ a strong fruit brandy that was generously served for free. The effects of Rakija were very visible from midnight on :-). I guess pilots had different reasons to relax and unwind but the Italians were seriously affected by the tumble of Marco Laurenzi and were quite animated at a certain moment.
Marco was gliding with his ‘VG’ at 3/4, hit a thermal and started circling without releasing the VG. Before he could react, one of the wings got a strong surge and the glider tumbled. After four turns he threw his first parachute and short after his second chute. The descent was smooth and resulted in no injury. This is a reminder that we should never reduce speed with VG on, specially not circling!
This morning the party was just a painful memory in my head. Nothing that a Nurofen could not solve. The day went by lazily as a rest day should be. The most interesting moment was the visit that the Dutch team did to the westerly facing take-off and landing. From today on, the region will be subjected to strong western winds and the teams need to agree about using this take-off. Our conclusion is that both are not ideal. The take-off is a bit too flat for weak winds and the landing too turbulent and too far for strong wings. We agreed that Joost will vote against flying from the west take-off. What this means for the rest of the week needs to be seen but better safe than sorry.