Victory ceremony and conclusion of a wonderful world championship
A day later than promised we report again via blog. After it was unofficially clear that we are the winners of this year's World Cup, we enjoyed Thursday evening together with the whole national team in a good restaurant and celebrated until late in the evening. Since we had to get up early every morning last week, we allowed ourselves to stay in bed a little longer on Friday. Almost too long, because we want to finish everything and pack before the award ceremony, which should start at 12 o'clock, so that we can start our journey home after the award ceremony. By united effort we make it then just still punctuallyan the airfield of Murska Sobota to the closing ceremony of the hot air balloon world championship 2022.
As actually everything at this world championship, also at the award ceremony everything is very well organized. For the team and of course especially for Stefan this is a very emotional moment. It was our 7th participation in a World Cup and we had good chances to win the title at every single World Cup. Now it finally worked out! We are overjoyed and grateful for this wonderful experience and success.
This victory did not come just like that, there are an insane number of factors behind this success. In particular, we would like to highlight the once again brilliant and even sacrificial cooperation of the national team. All important information and considerations were exchanged on various channels before and during the trip. During the last flights, when the chances for the title were getting better and better, at least one Swiss balloon always started before us and gave us valuable information about the wind directions. Many thanks to all Swiss teams for this gigantic cooperation. The success of our model of cooperation can also be seen on paper. In the nation ranking, in which all results of a nation are included, Switzerland takes the very good third place behind France and Japan out of a total of 32 nations!
Tomorrow Sunday we may celebrate our victory also still in Switzerland. Starting at 12 noon, there will be a reception with snacks at Stefan's home in Andwil SG. We will also report personally on our impressions of this World Cup and answer your questions. If you would like to join us, please contact Kurt Frieden (info [at] ballonfrieden.ch (info[at]ballonfrieden[dot]ch)) as soon as possible for further information and registration.
10th and final ride - Thursday evening
Our starting position before the last ride is better than hoped for after the morning ride! The last still open evaluation, the Fly On has brought us again some distance between our direct pursuer. Therefore we go into the last ride with a lead of about 1000 points. This is basically quite comfortable, but the experiences here have shown, anything can happen in the evening. In fact, there are three more tasks on the task sheet. Thus, our direct pursuer and former world champion Yudai Fujita from Japan still has the chance to recapture the first place.
As the first task, similar to yesterday one of three targets must be approached directly on the runway of the airfield. A score is only given to those who drop the marker within the 30m MMA. After that, there will again be a Qualification of Choice and, to conclude the championship, a Fly On. With so much focus on one of the three targets on the flying field, we overlook the fact that the target behind it would be directly in our direction of travel. However, we drop the marker into the MMA with not too good results. Seconds later we drive over the next possible target cross of this task, but without the marker... Our direct competitor has difficulties here as well and marks even worse than we do. So he has only two tasks left to catch up. These hopes of the current runner-up have to be buried at the next task. We achieve again no perfect result, but Yudai is again less good and has now actually no chance of the renewed world title.
It is not yet official at the current time and the driving data and possible penalty points are still being distributed, however, it should actually be enough for the title this time!
We are overjoyed that despite the setbacks and the bad start, we have always found the connection again and could (more or less) pull through the climbing run to the end. Already now a big thank you to the team, the entire Swiss national team, which has worked together perfectly throughout. And also Rebekka Zeberli who has thrown the whole store at home.
We now go to dinner with all Swiss teams and report tomorrow as soon as everything is official.
9th trip - Thursday morning
As you can see by now in the results, we got more points than expected in both tasks last night. In addition, the Japanese leading before the evening ride took a very bad ride. So we are now actually in first place after 8 rides. However, there is no time to worry about that. We continue directly this morning with 5 tasks. With so many tasks, there is for all pilots the chance to make up many points, or of course also the risk to be moved back in the ranking with not so good results.
There are 4 tasks set where scoring is done by physical markers. The tasks can be dangled in any order. There are totally 5 possible agony-of-choice targets, of which freely selectable two targets should be approached. The first one succeeds relatively well, the second one is a bit more difficult, since the ground wind has increased steadily. Here the result is probably rather mediocre. At the CLP on the airfield even two markers have to be thrown one after the other. There is a measuring area in which the two markers have to stay as far away from each other as possible, but within this area. Stefan drives perfectly over this area, but since the wind is also very strong here, he throws the markers with enough margin to the area boundary. Because if a marker lands outside, one has no result in this task. There will probably also be better results here, however, we hope that our result is also in order.
At the CLP a fox balloon starts again. This one can be followed relatively well. Our marker, which was only allowed to drop, lands in the MMA, but unfortunately not so close to the cross. Since we are one of the first at this target, we do not know how to classify this result.
As the 5th task there is a fly on to drive. Since the tasks are free to choose in the order, we solve this task on the way from the first agony-of-choice destination to the CLP. Stefan decides to take the drop of a good 20 meters and gives the loggermark. As always with the three-dimensional tasks, we see here only on the evaluation, how good or bad the result is.
We now only have tonight's ride ahead of us. We hope we were able to hold on to first place this morning. The evening drives are each so unpredictable that it would be good to have some reserve.
8th trip - Wednesday evening
Just a week ago it was unclear how many rides would even be feasible due to the weather at this World Cup. Now we have already the 8th ride behind us and no ride has been canceled.
So also today's evening ride takes place. Although as usual with very brisk wind, which, however, quite reliable in the late evening on the ground slows down. Started from the common launch site on the runway of the airfield. First there is also, as almost usual, an agony of choice from three possible targets. Due to the wind direction, however, only one target can be realistically reached. Also this goal prepares difficulties for many. So also us. Shortly before reaching the target cross, the wind turns away to the right and we can only drop the marker to the edge of the MMA.
As a follow-up task, we must again decide on a target. However, this decision must be made before the first task and declared as Fly On in the logger. To get to the declared target, we climb to the maximum allowed altitude to correct to the left. At this altitude it is quite fresh with minus 3 degrees, but we do not stay long at this altitude. Hardly above it goes in the "nosedive" again down. We catch the right moment and can drop our marker within the MMA. We must be satisfied with this due to the conditions.
Tomorrow is already the last day on which races take place. We should now be in a good starting position to also at the very front still mitzureden. Let's wait and see how our competitors fared today. Not all results of the morning race are published yet.
7th trip - Wednesday morning
Last night, all the pilots in the front ranks, like us, performed poorly on at least one task. This is absolutely exceptional, but for us this has the consequence that we have not lost the connection to the top positions by the very bad task of last night. Still we have a gap, but this would be theoretically still catch up.
A good opportunity to put pressure on the front runners is this morning. There are 5 tasks on the task sheet. The tasks can also be solved in any order. However, most probably solved it in a similar way as we did. That is, first to focus on the two targets, which are set on the ground, and then to solve the three tasks, which are evaluated by loggermark.
The first ground target is actually a fly in again, with the peculiarity that the MMA is divided into four with the target cross as the center. Every 15 minutes a different quarter is then "open" and during this quarter of an hour the marker must also land in it. Since the wind shifts a bit shortly before the start, we have to fight the low ground wind for quite a long distance to the front. However, when you then get to the finish cross, it is well controllable in the lower layers. Stefan drives low over the cross and can place the marker quite nicely.
Directly we move on to the second target cross, an agony-of-choice target. This one we approach somewhat directly. We can drop the marker at a good 8 meters, however, we know by now that the majority of the following balloons more beautiful up and drive low over the MMA and thus a majority achieves a better result.
The next three tasks are difficult to judge. Probably the worst we managed was a classic fly on. Since the time and space is rather scarce, we decide to accept the probably not so good result and not to re-declare again. After that, another rather complicated and very challenging variant of a Fly On works out quite well. We are curious to see what results will be achieved. The result of this task consists of the sum of actually three Fly On, which are set at specified heights and side differences to the declared "task center".
Our last task is the "elbow". Here, by placing three log markers, which then result in two legs, the second leg must achieve the greatest possible change in direction (optimally 180 degrees back) to the first leg. The teams solve this task in such different places with the most different possibilities that it is difficult to say how our result will come off. However, we are quite satisfied with the wind directions found and think that this gives a good result.
6th trip - Tuesday evening
As has been the case every evening so far, a strong wind is blowing today. This one reaches down to the ground. So the competition management is forced to set the start period late and thus can not put too many tasks. After all, there are two tonight. First, one of four target crosses distributed over the runway must be approached on the airfield of the local airfield. After that, there is a second agony of choice, again with four targets, spread a bit wider, to choose from. The first target succeeds reasonably well. For the still halfway possible second target we climb very high in order to get enough eastward. Due to the high altitude and high speed we unfortunately miss the right time to descend again and thus miss the target by far. We fear that this will unfortunately hardly give us any points... We can only hope that this probably miserable result will not cause us to lose our meanwhile good position and the connection to the top. As it seems, some of the other top placed pilots also had some trouble tonight. Tomorrow morning we should know more about the new starting position. What is certain, it now needs a really successful ride with many good results.
5th trip - Tuesday morning
Last night's result is not yet official. However, it has obviously not been easier for the majority of the balloons, which came after us to the target, despite the slower winds on the ground. Our deposit is still enough for a good 700 points. With this we have to be satisfied for a task in the evening. In the overall ranking we climb a little bit further up due to the two rides from Monday. However, the gap to the very front is still considerable and hardly become smaller.
Today Tuesday morning there are 5 tasks. As the first task there is a CRT, actually a Fly In with individual starting place, however with the difficulty that one can always achieve a score by marker only in a given time window. The Swiss choose the start place and time so that this time window is no problem. Our marker, which may only be dropped, comes to rest at just under 6 meters. Actually this sounds quite ok. However, so many markers are even better that this means just rank 30 in this task. There is no time to relax, we go straight on to the CLP at the airfield. There, two markers have to be thrown with the shortest possible distance to each other, into two opposite triangular areas. We drive deep optimally over the target. However, the first marker lands on the border between the first two surfaces. Thus, we are unsure which of the two upcoming triangles is now the correct one. By deciding back and forth we lose some time and thus the possibility to throw the marker even closer into the corner. Stefan then decides in favor of a surface after all. In the meantime, it turns out that the markers have landed correctly and we have achieved a result. This is still very good despite the missed opportunity to achieve an excellent result.
Besides this task a fox balloon starts on the CLP. This one is not to lose sight of despite the still further tasks and at its landing place then also a marker must be dropped. Because of the start time, which was perfect for the first task, many balloons are a bit too early at the starting point of the fox balloon. This was also the case for us. We don't want to overtake the fox balloon in any case and try to slow down a bit wherever possible. A Fly On, which has to be pre-declared a maximum of two times over a distance of at least 4 kilometers, we solve directly after the task at the CLP, quasi on the way to the next task. The result here is certainly not terrific, but as always it is impossible to estimate how the results of the others are in this task. As soon as the fly in is completed by loggermark, we have to fight on directly to reach the only realistic target cross of the upcoming task, a torture of choice. We miss the timely descent a bit, unfortunately, but can still drop the marker into the MMA. This is not such a good result, unfortunately. It would have actually been possible to approach this goal better. However, many other teams also do not succeed as desired and thus there are probably still a few points for our result.
Shortly after our rather modest marker at the agony-of-choice target, the fox balloon also lands. Stefan recognizes quite early that practically the whole field of the pursuing balloons on the left of the meanwhile laid out fox target cross will pass. So he goes early into a thin still existing layer to correct as far as possible to the left. Unfortunately, it is no longer enough to reach the target cross. However, our Loggermark should be one of the better ones at this task. The marker actually drop into the MMA, could only very few pilots.
Short conclusion, also based on the partially known measurement results. It was again anything but easy. The results are mediocre to ok over the whole ride. It will hardly be enough to catch up with the leading teams. However, we can probably keep up to some extent and keep the chance for a hopefully lasting catch-up.
4th trip - Monday evening
The strong wind is the issue tonight. According to forecasts, the wind on the ground should stop before sunset. But since we can only ride until sunset, this means there can only be one short ride. Thus, there are also only two tasks. A Fly In followed by a Fly On with three targets to choose from. The Fly In target is located on the airfield of Murska Sobota. As the wind has still not dropped shortly before the start period, the second task is cancelled by message in the WhatsApp chat group. This so that the pilots have the choice to start a little later.
The Swiss nevertheless decide to start early, so that they do not get into the crowd and can climb and descend freely. Since you first have to climb quite high from the chosen starting point to get into the right line of the ground wind, it is again very difficult to estimate when is the right time to descend. The Swiss sink differently early or late. So it happens that a part goes too far and thus passes the target on the left and a part passes the cross a little too far on the right. We are also rather early in the descent and at the same time the wind on the ground turns 20 degrees more to the right. We are able to drop the marker into the measuring zone, but shortly after us there are already some that pass more directly over the target and thus achieve better results. Unfortunately we can't estimate what the following balloons still achieved, because we land shortly after the target. We can only hope that it was still a challenge to reach the goal despite the winds slowing down.
The good news of the evening is that this morning's results have been released. There was a very good result on the first target, as expected. The second goal was not quite as great from the deposit achieved, but still gave some points due to the results of the others.
3rd trip - Monday morning
As we drive to the briefing, light rain is still falling. Therefore, it is then also no big surprise that the joint start on the CLP 1 is planned. When all teams are on the starting grid, we then but shortly after sunrise the green flag drawn. On the task sheet there are only two agony-of-choice tasks, with a choice of four target crosses each. Since the wind blows in the lower layers exactly against the set targets, an additional briefing shortly before the start one target of each task is moved from the south to the north.
The modeled wind direction is from the northwest, so we see no disadvantage in going exactly in the direction of the newly set target option of the first task with the wind present at the start. However, shortly before reaching the target cross, this wind abruptly stops. Only the first balloons manage to drop a marker at this agony-of-choice target. Now plan B is forced into action and we head back in the opposite direction to the originally set ground targets. As with the first two trips, the wind direction on the ground as well as in other layers is not constant. This makes it very difficult to approach the targets accurately. Are often at such championships many markers on a pile, you have to be glad here already to get at all near the target cross.
Despite but repeated Umentscheiden with the target selection, succeeds us the first marker very well. With a deposit of 2.5 meters, we can be very satisfied for the circumstances. The second target is not quite as successful, but the marker still lands close to the target cross. Since it is really very difficult to hit the targets accurately, we can consider ourselves lucky with these two results. In the meantime most of the results of yesterday's rides are online. Some of our unfortunately bad results of the first ride had even less points as feared. We now definitely have the role of the hunter at this World Cup and are not the hunted. However, we are not giving up and there should still be some chances to make up ground. Tunlichst we should now avoid further bad results, which could slow down our catch-up.
2nd trip - Sunday evening
Two tasks are set. A choice of three possible destinations, followed by a land run. The start is set for all at the common launch site near the airfield. The agony-of-choice targets are all set in such a way that, in order to reach them, it is mandatory to climb quickly to about 600m above ground. As the wind is quite brisk at the beginning down to the ground, a similar challenge as already in the morning arises again. One has to descend at the right moment to get well into position and to get over the target cross with the low winds. From the negative experience of this morning, where we wanted to tack up too much and then didn't make it far enough to the finish, we approach a bit more directly this time. This pays off as the bottom wind shifts are still not very constant. We are lucky and the matching line with the matching wind remains constant until we reach the finish and we can drop the marker on the cross. Since it is often generally a bit more inconsistent in the evening, we are extremely happy with this top result, especially after the false start this morning.
In the "landrun", by setting three logger points within 30 minutes, the largest possible triangular area must be created. Since the wind speeds near the ground have become slower, the starting position for this task has become rather worse due to the later start. Nevertheless, we make the first leg of the triangle area low and try to make as large a track as possible towards the northeast. After 15 minutes we set the second logger point, this marks the end of the first leg and starts the second leg at the same time. For an ideal direction of the second leg we have to climb quickly. Through preceding Swiss pilots we know at which altitude we have to look for the ideal and fast wind. As always in such tasks it is very difficult to estimate which position in the ranking list the driven result will bring. We tried to get the best out of what was still possible. The conditions were probably no longer quite as good as balloons launched earlier.
1st drive - Tough start to the championship
To our delight there is hardly any fog and the weather conditions are good when we arrive at 05:00 for the briefing. The tasks set are also attractive, but also peppered with many small challenges. The respective task sheets can be found via the button on "Watch me fly", as well as the results as soon as they are published.
The Swiss pilots all start from the same corner and decide already at the start for one of the three possible "agony of choice" targets. The winds are very brisk and reach through to the ground at the first target. This leaves very little time for pilots to make decisions. Since the fast winds keep changing direction, it is very difficult to rely on one wind layer. We descend a bit late, due to the high speed every second directly affects several meters. Unfortunately, then the wind on the ground does not go as far left as we had hoped and we pass about 100m from the target. This is probably unfortunately a very bad result, as we fear that most of those who started later will get to the finish a little better. Unfortunately we have a similar situation with the second task a "Gordon Bennett Memorial", here the marker has to land in a defined area, otherwise you don't have a measurable result. Unfortunately, we don't succeed in this task either. Some of us probably feel the same way, the more we miss this target, the more points we get for us and the rest of the "unfortunate" group. The second agony of choice succeeds to us then more or less ok, with a good 10 meters deposit to the target cross, also anything but a brilliant result, but a step closer to the points region, where we would like to find ourselves always. The upward trend continues after all. The two following Fly On - tasks, goals, which must be set by each pilot individually after different defaults, succeed then well and very well. We hope that we can continue this upward trend in the following flights and build on the last task of this morning's flight. The very unfortunate start with the first three tasks, we leave behind us as soon as possible and hope that we already have the bad luck for this World Cup behind us. Nothing is lost yet, it was not easy for everyone today. The weather gives hope that yet many of the planned rides can take place.