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Räyskälä Masters 2016

Story by Katja

I think it was in the end of season party at Räyskälä last September, when Räyskälä Masters was mentioned for the first time, at least to me I mean.

How could I say no, when I knew I could be part of very experienced organization. The competition director was going to be Matias Sucksdorff who had arranged local competition Jannen Kisat by himself, with a help of tow pilots and field runners. Mari, Räyskälä Foundation General Manager was going to be there, and Hannu “Wille” Halonen who has a lot of competing experience together with organizing experience. How can I say no, when I knew that I could provide my experience to them and do what I’ve usually done in the competitions and I wouldn’t need to travel anywhere.

Unfortunately the settings changed a bit during the winter, as Matias wasn’t able to come because of his new job.

So we are running the competition with minimum staff: Wille as competition director, I am taking photos, updating website and also I am running the competition office, Mari is doing whatever is needed, she is our much needed “someone else” and Timo Pankka is our field marshal. Then we have four tow planes and three field runners. Hannu Niemi (and Ensio) are helping with scoring, Hannu is also flying in the competition. Famous Tapio (Tourula) is our weather man, and competing as well. Not many hands in this organization, but those hands are doing all necessary things.

So…without any more nonsense, as you might know, I like to start my stories with a short sentence, and the sentence is:

Here we go again!

Friday was our first working day and time for pilot registration. At the same time we set up office printers and scoring etc. As you know there isn’t anything without “last minute notice” (viime tippa in Finnish). Anyway feeling was relaxed.

We also made the registration easier for us. Usually all pilots’ and glider papers are checked in detail at the registration, which is mandatory at championships. But in this type of competition we can also just ask pilots to give us confirmation that all papers including glider’s ARC and insurance are valid. So that’s exactly what we did. Only name and glider registration no and signature on paper, which of course told what they are confirming and signature on the bottom, and we are ready!

Also we had general/safety briefing in the evening. Have to reveal the fact that some pilots clearly hadn’t read the information which was available on the competition website. It’s kind of frustrating to answer questions which experienced competition pilot should know. But won’t tell more about it, I was glad to help and I was glad that I knew some answers. Usually my problem is that I’ve done the website, but hardly ever read the content PROPERLY. I decided to do that better this time :-)

Saturday 11th June

First competition day. Things which could go wrong, went.  Ah, not all. Our website was working just fine, and the briefing hall was ok, also tow planes were ok, but scoring program (See You with Soaring Spot) and printers didn’t want to co-operate. That’s bit difficult when you have to give a competition task to pilots. Machines showed us again who the master is and who the servant is.

Runway 08 was in use. When the grid is there, there is usually two possibilities for the weather: it’s either really cold or really hot. This day was cold and windy. Most of Räyskälä pilots know that when you pack your winter clothes at home, don’t take those to attic, as you take those to Räyskälä. Outi (VA’s crew) was wearing a really thick winter coat, I almost envied her. But my new Räyskälä Masters jacket (provided by Soaringxx Clothes) together those questions where did I get it made me feel not that cold.

Also the weather didn’t want to co-operate so towings were postponed many times.

When pilots came back from task, we heard that the flying weather had been good. There had been the forecasted clear area between two raining areas, so the task was 2 h AAT task. Pilots came home quite happy I think.

Sunday 12th June

Temperature is rising, perhaps we will have proper summer day during the week. Runway 30 was in use, which is very practical as it’s very close to the cafeteria and the competition office.

Before the competition we wrote a press release with Finnish Aviation Association about Räyskälä Masters. Riikka from FAA wanted to interview someone foreigner for the story, and she selected Adam Woolley for that as he is from Australia. When I read his comments, I was surprised that he had been in Finland during two summers, but never experienced good gliding weather. Sunday was going to give that to him. Also my friend Jari (2W) was excited as one turnpoint on the task was Tammisaari, which is one of the most south turnpoints in Finland, and it’s close to the archipelago. It’s not very common that the weather is so good that it’s possible to fly there, as either the sea breeze cleans the sky and kills thermals, or there is an overcast. Anyway, you might know the reasons better than I do.

After the flight Jari was really happy, he told that in one point he had 7 m/s thermal, so that’s really good. In general all pilots sounded happy and said that the task could have been longer, but continued that it’s nicer to have a good flight than struggle and fly maximum distance task.

It looks like the weather is getting better and better this week, so I am really hoping it will happen, so Adam can get it all back what he had missed on his last trips. 

Monday 13th June

How nicer it is to wake up with sunshine than seeing a grey sky. Of course sometimes it’s great to have a day off in the competition, but it’s better to have a clear situation, either flying or not. Morning was beautiful and the temperature was again warmer than yesterday.

Some weird problems with setting the task continued on See You, I was already thinking should I do un-thinkable and read the manual… After all everything sorted out, without reading the manual.

Tasks were around 450 km, towings started at 12.00 from RWY 30. When pilots were returning their igc-files to the office, some commented that it had been great, but continued that some pilots had had problems. I heard my friend Kimmo had commented that it had been “sh*tty flight”. So it had been challenging task. But I like to think it has not been that bad, as there wasn’t any outlandings. Later on I heard his reason for his comment, and it was mostly said because of non-working communication with one of his friend who is flying in the competition as well. How sad.

Tuesday 14th June

Somehow this was a day when I wasn’t that alert. I didn’t do my chores with same routine or with the same accuracy as usual. Don’t know why, really.

You know, I think it’s because it felt like today was the day in the competition when you realize the days are all alike. This was already fourth competition day, and also it was fourth flying day.

Our routine is:

  • Weather looked good
  • Set up task with Wille on SeeYou
  • Copy tasks
  • Take tasks and daily winner’s prizes to the briefing (remind Wille to take his Mac/VGA adapter with him to the briefing)
  • Met man Tapio fills the 0 C or thermal altitude in his PowerPoint slide show in the briefing, or people guessing what it would be (I like Tapio’s style, even he looks like a shy guy, his is a good show man)
  • Prepare for the launches
  • Today we knew we were going to have task B after all, so it had to be done.
  • Wonder why correct task images won’t update on Soaring Spot and realize you can’t do anything about it
  • Take photos in the grid and launches, launches takes about an hour with 4 tugs and 37 competing gliders.
  • Lunch
  • Be surprised how little time it takes when pilots are coming back, I mean reporting 10 km’s.
  • Help pilots to upload IGC files to scoring, as some of them don’t want to carry their own computers for that
  • No outlandings
  • Pilots giving two kinds of comments in the evening, either it had been fun and great or really challenging.

Ah, after all my day wasn’t that usual. Of course I did those things I described, but after lunch I didn’t have a nap but went to Loppi instead. That’s why I didn’t have time at all during the day, first work work work, then eat and drive and work work work after that.

Despite of feeling that it’s routine, I remember the photos I took. Today I got some nice “leaning on the wing” pictures in the grid and some nice landing pictures with dark backgrounds. You know, even the landing photos look like there is thunder or something behind of the gliders, reality actually is that there was some dark cloudbase behind them and sun was shining from behind my back. That’s why white gliders and dark background looks quite good.

I decided that I would not have drinks at the terrace as usual in the evening, I went to my caravan and had a “cleaning day”, had a quick sauna, cooked a nice dinner, watched tv, all by myself. By doing this I knew I would be prepared to be social on Wednesday’s BBQ party.

Well, unlike other evenings I had a look of RASP and other forecast and saw that the weather is changing, or something is happening. Until so far the weather has been pretty good for flying.

Wednesday 15th June

While doing our paper work for the new competition day with Mari, we realized that we are already in the middle of June, even it felt like June just had started. How fast the time flies, oh dear.

I came to the competition office in the morning and helped Wille to set up the task on See You as usual. I asked how long the task was, and he said that he is not sure, about 500 km or so. Remembering that we were going to have barbecue party in the evening, one of the Masters’ traditions, I was brave enough to comment that it sounds a bit long. I knew that I was interfering to an issue which doesn’t belong to me. But still I described similar situations in detail that how the task has been too long and everybody lands out and that happens on the evening when there is supposed to be international evening or some other party, which has happened in some competitions before. I was glad to hear that he had been wondering the same thing and after all the task was set to 400 km.

Later on I heard that Tapio had suggested 500 km task, but Kristian Roine (VA) who is also meteorologist as you might know, had commented that 400 km task is 100 km too long. Anyway we ended up having the 400ish km task, and it all went fine. And there was only one outlanding, AL. Some pilots said that they were going to go drink “shame beers” in their caravans, but some said that they had a really good day. So I am saying it wasn’t that bad after all.

Anyway pilots’ comments of the day’s task have been changing every day, one day one person says he had fun and other day he says it was challenging and the opposite comments was coming from other pilots. Go figure.

At the BBQ party we had really good food provided by the Räyskälä’s cafeteria and lots of drinks as well, I mean for buying of course. Wille did something I’ve hoped some competition directors would have been able to do on previous competitions… He had looked Thursday’s forecast and it was going to be rainy day. So what he did? Would say nothing? Arrange briefing at 11 following morning? No, he cancelled Thursday there and then, it was announced that there is no task, no briefing on Thursday and next time we will see on Friday. I think because of that we had many happy pilots and crew members enjoying the Finnish summer evening and food and drinks and good company. And relax.

That’s exactly what we did, people were having fun and after midnight it continued at sauna.

Thursday 16th June

From here it’s quite difficult to continue the story, as I can only tell what I did and with whom on rainy days.

Really heavy rain arrived already on Wednesday night, and Thursday morning I made a “quick wash” for my caravan. I spread some good soap and brushed it all over the caravan and finished just in time when the heavy rain started :-) Good plan, nature helped me to rinse the soap away, I just had to follow how my caravan was first one foaming cube and then change the colour from greenish back to normal whitish.

In the afternoon we went to Keppana Kellari, a famous restaurant some 20 km from Räyskälä and afterwards shopping for food at Forssa. Then it was time for a nap and light snack at barbecue.

Friday 17th June

It was going to be another rainy day. There was going to be a weather window late afternoon, but the window would be so short that competition flights would not be possible. So no task today.

I and my friends didn’t have any energy to go anywhere. After the briefing I sat in the competition office as pilots were asked to come and take care of their payments. After that it was time for a lunch and a nap.

Late afternoon the promised weather window came and Swedish AKF was flying few guys who are in a wheelchair. Perhaps you’ve seen the AKF’s competition sign on my pictures, it says AKF Alla Kan Flyga, Everybody Can Fly. The glider is fully flyable using just hands, so you don’t need to use pedals with your legs as usually. They were introducing the plane to this small group, who had never imagined this kind of sports would be possible for someone in a wheelchair. So AKF really means something important.

In the evening I made some pancakes, with jam and whipped cream of course. Swedish came to sit with us at the “NIL grill” and we had a great time. When we left from the barbecue it was pouring rain and it was really interesting to drive a bike in that weather.

Saturday 18th June

Today’s chores were: prize giving ceremony, taking last payments, writing press release that we have a new Finnish Gliding champion Harri Hirvola and of course saying goodbye to everybody.

Curious thing is that I don’t have to hurry home, as nobody is waiting for me and it’s only Saturday. Usually all competitions end at Sunday. Let’s see what I will do today. Perhaps have a nap first.

Thank you all, I think we managed as an organization very well and I would be happy to work with same people again. Also thank you to all of the thank you we got from all pilots, I hope you had really good time.

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more Katja's photos and stories at www.gliding.fi