Tolmin, Slovenia – Naviter Open 2019 (June 15 – 22)
Arrived a day before the competition after missing a few trains and other memorable moments. Set up my tent by this pretty place by the river. Checked out the flying site, did a 50 km flight. I was looking forward to the first comp of the trip. The Naviter Open is a FAI CAT 2 sports class competition and some reputed pilots on the circuit come by here.
Out of the 6 task days we had 4 valid tasks as the weather did not cooperate on 2 of the days. I made goal / did well on all 4 days and was certain that I had secured a podium finish in the Leisure Class.
- Day 1 – I had a bad start but kept on pushing full bar and made some good decisions which brought me into a good position again but then I had a full bar frontal near cloud base and the glider pitched forward very violently. I did not pull enough break to stop it which caused a cravat on the left side of my wing. My glider was about to enter auto rotation and I quickly put my hands between the risers to stop the twists, pulled opposite break and weight shift to stop the rotations. After getting the glider overhead I tried to get out the cravat, tried almost everything (except for stalls and spins) but the cravat was quite stubborn and wasn’t coming out. I pulled the stabilo once more and this finally worked. This incident caused me to lose quite some height and lose my gaggle because of which I ended up losing quite some time.
- Day 2 – no task. we did not even go to take-off because of strong north wind.
- Day 3 – When we took off there were lots of clouds forming over the mountains but it did not look too bad. Later the task was stopped as there were cumulonimbus clouds forming in the back mountains.
- Day 4 – was a decently big task but it got stopped when I was about 10 km away from goal as there were cunims forming nearby. At first I was kind of frustrated as I felt if the task went on a little longer I would have been able to make it to goal but shortly after landing and seeing the rain nearby I realised the meet director had made a good decision. Also fortunately for me I was within the glide of the goal field so I did not need retrieve.
- Day 5 – This day was the biggest task of the comp – 55 km .this is not a very big distance but since conditions weren’t really epic it was a fairly big tas. As I was approaching the end of the task, I could see the clouds were beginning to overdevelop and knew the task would be stopped sooner or later and decided to fly as fast as I could in order to reach before the task was stopped. I managed to reach goal and the task was stopped about a few minutes later. When a task is stopped time is pulled back by about 5 minutes so I wasn’t sure if my goal was going to be counted but later on once my track was scored I came to know that I reached more than 5 minutes before the task was stopped.
- Day 6 – A 50 km task with a long downwind leg at the end. I knew I had to continue to do well in this task if I wanted to be on the podium but it was vital that I did not bomb out early. The lead gaggle pushed ahead towards the first turn point low but a few of us who were a little behind gained some height and then tried to catch up with them. The thermal at the first turn point was very rough and strong. I saw multiple people around me get collapses. After gaining some height we went for the next two turn points – then I saw some nice clouds in the valley and decided to thermal in the valley after which I got a lifty line and glided almost 20 km through the middle of the valley. Later I stopped for a thermal which I realised in hindsight was not actually necessary If I chose the right lines. I then glided to the final turn point, encountered a lot of sink and wasn’t sure If I could make it to goal in a glide but Realising that the reason for the sink was the fact that we were in the lee of a small hill I glided to goal from the windward side of the hill where there was a lifty line.
- I was quite happy by the end of this flight because I knew for sure I was going to be on the podium.
It was great to fly with a lot of good pilots who would otherwise be flying higher rated wings. It was interesting to fly with them on a relatively level playing field. It was also great to interact with the Naviter team pilots and see how humble they were in spite of their achievements.
The day after the comp I bid goodbye to Slovenia and the many friends I made at the Naviter Open 2019 and made my way to Amsterdam for a couple of days with my friend Kalyan Ratakonda who is based there before continuing on to the next competition in France .