Hang Gliding Worlds: Final Day (part 2)

Jonas writes:

The final day of the 21st world hang gliding championship finally turned things on for us, the best conditions of the whole competition by far! With a 12000ft cloud base and scattered cumulus about the course-line a 98km sprint back to the Esplanada was set with a small zig and a zag to keep it a little interesting.

I took off in 18th place overall with the game plan to try and stick with the Robots (Christian and Alex) along the task. We quickly climbed out in much bigger and smoother thermals than on previous days, which was a pleasant change to the hectic gaggles we flew in all week. The start gate was a massive entry start so we tried to position ourselves down the south end of the ridge to get a good high start with the shortest optimized leg to the first turnpoint. For some reason the lift turned out to be much weaker and broken down this end of the ridge so I ended up missing both the first and second start. Bugger! Luckily for me I wasn't the only one. Atilla, Petr Benes and the Italians had also skipped the starts in hope for better positioning for the last. That wasn't to be! We ended up glided back upwind on the ridge towards take off at ridge height in search for a climb. I was the lowest of the bunch and was ridge soaring 400ft above the ridge 4km from the start cylinder as the last start clicked over. Not exactly ideal for the last day of the comp!
Eventually I found a crappy weak 2-300fpm thermal which got me just high enough to take the start and scratch my way towards the first turnpoint. The Italians and Czechs were a little higher and ahead but we were well behind the guys who had taken the earlier starts.
Just before the first turnpoint near the big forest we finally hit the good air and clouds, climbing to 11000ft in 700fpm! Now the race was on. I had a good run around the second and third TP catching up to the Italians and ended up flying the leg back to the Esplanada with them. It was quite incredible watching Alex and Christian flying side by side together, team flying against the Czechs but also racing each other seeking the world title!
They got ahead of me just before final glide as their gliders seemingly became sail planes pulling up and away from the rest of us as they always seem to do when the heat turns on..
I waited for a conservative 9:1 before going on final which ended up being kind of lucky because the glide was rather average into the city. Derek found out the hard way just squeaking it into the small paddock adjacent to the official LZ as he didn't have the height to make it further.

The Italians were greeted in goal by Petr Benes the Czech who had beaten them both by 5 minutes making him the new world champion! Congratulations to him and the Czech team!

John Smith was on fire again making it 4th into goal on the first start clock and placing 18th for the day!

Task 9 Results

1. Fillipo Opicci (Italy)
3. DANIEL VELEZ (Colombia)

Kiwi Team

18. John Smith
47. Jonas Lobitz
87. Derek Mckee

We had an awesome party on Friday night with free beer for all competitors in the Esplanada and then partied on at a house music, street party until the late hours! On Saturday was the prize giving also down at the Esplanada before everyone packed up and went back to their home countries around the world.

What an amazing 2 weeks it was! A huge, huge thanks from the Kiwi team (John, Derek, Hagen and Jonas) for all the supporters back home. Special thanks to Hagen our manager he did an amazing job supporting the boys with their gear, on take-off and for retrieves-adding lots of positive energy and a huge boost to the team spirit! We gave it a good go and only hope to improve and strengthen the NZ hang gliding team going forward.
Final Results:
NZ Team 14th overall
19th - Jonas Lobitz
34th - John Smith
113th - Derek Mckee

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