XC Turkey 2010: Mads Syndergaard XC Turkey blogs

Wednesday 22 September, 2010

Mads Syndergaard XC Turkey blogs

Last installment, Thursday 30 September 2010: I’m outta here!

Last night got pretty hectic, what with packing, showering and eating all at once, then waiting for Elena and Pal to come back from their cool long flights. There had been some rumours of leaving Beysehir last night but in the XCTurkey 2010 you never know what the plan is until you’re in the middle of the execution 🙂

So we left our new friends in Beysehir around 11pm, and drove through the night to arrive west of Antalya at 4am. There ensued something of a logistical challenge when the full XCTurkey crew, foreigners and Turks alike, had to be transported to no less than five different 5-star holiday resorts, offloading all the luggage in the hold each time to find the relevant bags.

The resorts were all HUGE, and very fancy, with massive pools, beaches, 15 restaurants etc. – in short, hell on earth for someone like me, so I made a quick decision and bolted for the door. I’m in the Business Class lounge at Istanbul Airport now, waiting for my flight to Copenhagen, and expect to be in Husby tonight. Can’t wait.

I think Trias actually ended up winning the XCTurkey, with Pal in second and Dmitri in third, but I don’t know if they’ll do a wire transfer of the cash to Scotland or what is going to happen there.

Trias did the one massive flight of 185 km on the day when most of us stood at 50 km, so he deserves the title for sure, but it does seem a bit odd to award a prize to a pilot who wisely called it quits one week early. Glad I don’t have to make these decisions, I’m outta here.

Oh did I say that Turkey is an amazing country to visit? The overall hospitality of the population can’t be found better anywhere else on the planet, the flying potential is HUGE, and the price level is good. And once you work out where and how you can even buy beer, and the stuff tastes good!

We missed out on the really epic XC conditions but I think all in the group can see the potential, and I predict many will be back.

Thanks to anyone who cared to follow the rantings here, we may do it again if I ever get to fly a real comp somewhere. That’ll be my flight they are calling now – I’m actually really outta here,

Mads S

Wednesday 29 September

TODAY was another odd XCT day in that the first half was spent going to the mayor’s office to have tea with him and smalltalk in his downtown office. We managed to move to the TO at around 11.30am, and the conditions were already on.

So we waited for another hour or so for the lunches to arrive – if I’m potentially flying for six hours I need some sustenance – and then took off in quite strong, turbulent conditions with what would prove to be A LOT of wind.

Pal, Dmitri and I were first to leave, catching a good climb from TO to around 2,000 m, where it then got weaker but still worked so we could drift over the plateau behind launch in vaguely lifting air. Once over the valley the climb took off again, and took us to 3,300 m, and there the ground speed was up to some 78 km/h on trimspeed.

We crossed the wide valley behind launch in this west wind in no time, and started climbing again over the foothills of the opposite side. I relatively quickly made base, turned downwind and found that my ground speed had gone up to 90km/h – and I was heading into mountains.

Didn’t like that idea so I turned around, aimed for a wide open valley, and landed safely but with negative ground speed. I was joined shortly thereafter by Ulli and Olivier, and I think we were all happy to be on the ground.

We were in a quite remote, high valley, so even just getting from there to the road took a few hours, and then the special Murat Chaos theory took over. So we had a long but friendly retrieve.

It seems Elena has flown 105 km and Pal has flown 130 km, so people with more guts than me could surely get something out of the conditions – and Max had a crash and is being treated in hospital, seems he’s OK considering.

Now there is a big confusion regarding what happens next, Murat wants to go around midnight, pilots want to go after dinner, I dunno what will happen as every day has new surprises, but we’ll take it as it comes,

Cheers from Beysehir, Turkey

Tuesday, 28 September

FINALLY I got to make a really nice flight in Turkey 🙂 It wasn’t super far, it didn’t take forever, and it wasn’t even particularly scary – it was just a nice, quite difficult flight with a few low saves, and an efficient public transport retrieve thanks to the everpresent SUPER friendly locals that make Turkey special.

The launch here in Beysehir faces NNW or thereabouts, and really doesn’t start working until quite late, so we did some parawaiting again, only Olivier and I went birding in the woods and saw a Saker falcon, a Nightjar, a few Krüpers Nuthatches, so the day began well.

Then the wind came on the face, and we launched – only to land shortly thereafter again. Back on launch again the wind was stronger, and we could easily climb to around 2,000 m, and I set off alone on a downwind glide, nearly landed a few times in the wide valley behind launch, met Dmitri from Russia who was doing the same (nearly landing), and flew on for around 70 km to land in Bozkir, on the top of a hill.

I was in the shade of a range of big mountains all the way, so the climbs were never really any good, but it was still simply a very satisfying flight.

Dmitri landed at around 35 km, and the others made around 20 km, so not a great day by any means, but at least I’m smiling.

Tomorrow seems to be the last day here in Beysehir before moving to Antalya, I have heard that we’ll be going to meet the mayor at his office although he was already at launch on the first day here, but as Andreas says: “He comes to our office, so we have to come to his office.”

Late now, bedtime, more tomorrow,

Mads S

Sunday and Monday, 26 and 27 Sep.

SORRY to have been out of touch for a few days, we have been busy travelling.

Saturday was apparently always planned to be the last day in Karaman, and Trias from Scotland/Greece took us all by the little hairs in our, ah well, he flew much further than anyone else and landed in Cappadocia.

Anyway, for Sunday Murat had the cultural trip planned for us, and all I can say is sadly the day was wasted. We spent from 10 am to 2 am the following day in a big, very fancy bus, driving first from Karaman to Cappadocia, then getting dragged around like proper tourons with only 10-15 minutes at each location, to take pictures and move on, and then after a stay in a carpet factory we got in the bus again and drove to Beysehir, where we arrived at 2am this morning.

We didn’t get much out of Cappadocia, we didn’t get any flying, and the move from Karaman to Beysehir could have been done in four or five hours.

Today has been underwhelming too, but that isn’t anyone’s fault as the wind was simply over the back and way too strong. So we did a very solid dose of parawaiting on launch, getting treated to some speeches by local dignitaries, and then finally drove down to find a beach on the lake Beysehir. Good birding both on the mountain and by the lake, but let’s hope the conditions improve for tomorrow.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted.


Mads airborne over the Turkish landscape. Photo: Olivier Laugero

Mads airborne over the Turkish landscape. Photo: Olivier Laugero

AS YESTERDAY dawned bright and clear, and with the rumour of the restricted zone being lifted for the day, it was clear that it would be THE day of the event. So in spite of a good breeze shaking things around on launch the relevant pilots were quick to get ready.

The forecast was for 15-25km/h from S and SW, and Murat quickly confirmed the rumour about the restricted zone, so Pal was off!

The next 3-4 pilots, me included, launched in a lull soon after, to be greeted by very stable conditions and actually hardly a thermal beep. Rather than hang around at launch, which is after all around 2200m, one small group, with Pal leading the way, opted to check ot if there would be more action below the inversion, i.e. over the valley behind and to the E of launch. There very nearly wasn’t!

But we did finally manage to climb to some 2400m over a very turbulent little knob some 10km downwind from launch, and from there it would be mainly flatlands at least until Karapinar, some 55km away.Only most of us never got so far, instead getting downed by the stable and unpredictable conditions in the flats.

Getting back was easy as usual, as long as one stayed out of the official retrieve vehicles which are always busy finding many more pilots aside from one’s self, but with the locals here so friendly and helpful it is really rare to NOT be picked up by the first car that passes by.

Back at the base we learnt that Sedat and Olivier had flown around 80km, and that Dmitri and Trias were still unaccounted for. It later turned out that Trias had flown 185km, to Cappadocia, and Dmitri flew some 110km, on a slightly more Westerly route than the rest of us.

So these guys didn’t make it back to the mock prizegiving arranged by the governor of Karaman to award a few trophies to the pilots who had done best during this part of the XCTurkey.

Today we are going sightseeing in Cappadocia, and we’ll try to find Trias on the way.

Friday 24 September 2010

TODAY the forecast was for strong winds and some cloud cover, so we travelled up to launch earlier than the other days. As we arrived it was clear that the wind was indeed quite strong, so some parawaiting ensued.

In the end the task was cancelled, and the 4×4 pickup convoy raced off to try and find an alternative launch to use for some dynamic soaring. This turned into something of a wild goose chase, and most pilots opted to go back to Karaman and do some tourist sightseeing.

I went for a walk in the hills South of the Karadag with Olivier, Fabrice and Claude, and we found some very old remains of what we thought was a prehistoric worshipping site carved into the rocks at the top of one basalt cone hill. We also saw some good birds, like many Long-legged Buzzards, Rock Nuthatches and Black Redstarts, plus Isabella’s Wheatear.

Anyway, lets hope the conditions improve for tomorrow, where the Restricted Zone will be lifted and we can fly North again, in the direction of the prevailing wind.

Thursday 23 September

Flying task 3 of the XCTurkey competition. Note the inversion.

Flying task 3 of the XCTurkey competition. Note the inversion. Photo: Pal Takats

ANOTHER very inverted day at the Karadag, resulting in good climb rates on the mountain, and nice cloudbase of app. 2,900m, but as soon as we left the mountain the lid was at 1,900m and all that happened below was SLOW.

Very little wind so pilots flew all over the place, which meant it was hard to keep track of the others, but me and fellow XCMag rep. Olivier Lauguero flew East, then South as it became apparent that the wind lower down was N.

Olivier landed more or less at the foot of the mountain (I think), while I managed to cling on for another 3-4 thermals until I landed just East of Karaman town. We spent a long time over the top of the mountain trying out different options before finally committing to the glide into the blue, so we may get a little more distance than just TO>landing, as it seems they are using XContest/maxpunkte scoring (TO, 3 waypoints, L), but it still won’t impress anyone.

I landed around 2pm, with the skies only just beginning to look up, so all in all a pretty frustrating day.

One pilot seems to think that the Russian, Dmitri, has made it onto a line of hills some 30km SW of launch, if this is true then he may have gone far. The rumour has it that there won’t be any airspace restrictions from tomorrow, if that is indeed the case then we just need some South wind so we can move the more normal northerly route.

This place has good birding for those of us into that sort of thing, with flocks of pelicans coming over now and again, and large resident populations of Long-legged buzzards on the mountain. I only wish the buzzards would be better at helping us out in the flats, we could sure use a hand out there! One thermal today was marked by European bee-eaters, nice of them.

I think we move to Cappadocia on Sunday. Hope it isn’t a good flying day as I am pretty sure the pilots are more keen to fly than to do underground churches, even with the latter being very good.

Fabrice the scorer is great at keeping the website updated with results, but you need to take them with a grain of salt as some pilots are only downloading on the following day – anyway, keep checking if admiring 30km flights is your thing 😀

I’ll write more when I know more about how things have gone for the folks today – most pilots seem to be back already, but surely not all.

Wednesday 22 September

Mads prepares to launch

On launch, XCTurkey. Photo: Olivier Laugero

SECOND DAY of XCTurkey, I wish I could tell you of awesome, almost endless flights over the plains and ridges of Central Turkey; alas, they have so far failed to materialise.

Today conditions were less windy, so the restricted zone just North of launch was less of a problem. But the airmass was also more inverted, and the climbs never REALLY took off, until they did and a very large CB developed some 100km SE of us, eventually blocking the sun out.

There were two schools of thought on launch today – one was to get off early, and make the most of what may have been. I don’t know how well that worked yet, as some of the guys aren’t back yet. The other, which counted me, was a “wait and see” approach, and that gave us maybe 30 km in an E to SE direction before the ground met us.

The thermals in the flatlands were weak and didn’t go very high, but it could still have worked if it hadn’t been for the CB developing SE of us. Maybe the early launchers got the better of it – let’s hope so.

I would personally love to be able to go earlier, i.e. to have all the briefings, lunchpacks, all the logistic stuff out of the way by, say, 10.30 am, so that IF the right day for a long flight materialises then we’re ready for it. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case so far, but we’ll keep pushing!

I’ll write more when I know how the early launchers got along.

OK so all seem to be back now – maybe one Russian pilot made a little more distance than most, but it seems like 30-40 km was a good distance in the conditions we had. Lets hope it improves!

Pal took a few images from the air today, will try to upload later – now it is off to a restaurant for a late dinner before we crash, as tired as if we had flown 200 km!


Tuesday 21 September 2010

YESTERDAY and a fair bit of today (until 6 am) was spent travelling, from Husby via Copenhagen to Istanbul and on to Antalya. The stopover in Istanbul was fun; I ran into some 10 old friends in the gate, all Superfinal pilots heading for Denizli, I wanted sooo hard to come with them…

The flights were great – the XCTurkey guys had booked me on Business all the way, so I was well fed and well looked after all through the trip. In Antalya the usual delays due to other pilots having lost their baggage etc. occurred, so we didn’t get out of there until midnight, and then we had a six hour drive to Karaman… Long trip.

So today we were thrown out of bed at 8.30 am, and after a very nice breakfast and a stressed and short briefing we went to the town square to listen to the speeches etc. There was local folk music and other entertainment, and we sat and felt very VIP.

The mountain is called Karadag (Black Mountain), just like the Crna Hora and many other hills around the world. It has a fine if a bit small launch, but we’re not so many so that isn’t a problem. Climbing out wasn’t so easy, but several pilots finally made it to around 3000m and set off on a crosswind XC.

The crosswind is due to the unfortunate fact that the NATO has decided to have an air exercise close to here so we can’t fly NE from launch, fairly unfortunate as the winds today were up to around 30 km/h from SW. Lets hope that gets cleared, as the SW seems to be the prevailing wind here.

Not much to say about the XC flight, haven’t scored it yet but a few pilots made around 15 km… The cross wind was simply too strong.

Nice to be back in the air though! I can’t say Murat’s €5,000 (for a 300k m flight) seem to be in much danger, all told. We launched at 1 pm and the conditions weren’t great yet, and the day is over now, at 6 pm, so we’ll need to be able to go downwind at least.

I’m going to halt here as I need to go and do some shopping too, more tomorrow, Insh’Allah.

Friday 17 September: Packed and Ready for XCTurkey

Couldn't find a shot of a UP Trango XC in the same colour combo as the one I'm bringing to Turkey, so here's one in red/white.

Couldn't find a shot of a UP Trango XC in the same colour combo as the one I'm bringing to Turkey, so here's one in red/white.

IN MY FIRST blog entry I promised to let ya’ll know what wing I’d be on in Turkey, once the matter had been settled among all my colleagues. As it turns out I’ll be flying the Trango XC, and the wing arrived at my doorstep yesterday.

She’s a gorgeous baby in orange/white, and a tight little package too, just as I like’em. I look forward to trying the wing in a competitive environment, even if the XCTurkey is not a racing event as such. From what I saw in Bassano in April, where the wing was flown by Thomas and Stephan Brandlehner (AT), she’s a fast machine for sure.

Anyway, I’m boarding a train for Copenhagen on Monday morning, then it is a one-stop (Istanbul) flight to Antalya, where Murat the XCTurkey inventor will hopefully be waiting for me. I assume we’ll be in the air above the Anatolian steppes on Tuesday, and look forward to keeping you informed about our progress. Now if only I knew a little about the late September climate around those parts so I could pack my bag accordingly.

On another note, flying out for a fortnight of travelling, with full competition kit, is always a stressful endeavour. My bag weighs around 22 kg, give or take a few 100 g, and with a baggage allowance of 20 kg, AND the desire to change underwear once in a while, there’s just something that has got to give.

For this same reason I went and bought a cabin trolley a few years ago, you know, like the ones the air hostesses manage to make look sexy in a way. Except mine weighs 5.2 kg when empty, which means that once I have packed my chargers for all the electronics in it I’m already several kgs over the cabin baggage limit. Who makes a cabin trolley that weighs 5.2 kg?? They must be almost as dumb as someone who buys one!

All for now, be sure to check back in to see what amazing flights we’ll all be getting in Turkey!

Monday 13 September

Mads Syndergaard - packed and ready for XC Turkey

Mads Syndergaard - packed and ready for XC Turkey

IN THE OLD days, in this context that’ll be more than maybe five years ago, adventure normally came knocking through the phone. These days are over. Nowadays it seems to happen either via email or, more commonly, through Skype.

So my Skype icon flashes orange, indicating that there is a message from Bob Drury: “Hey Mads I’ve got this invitation from XCTurkey, to go and fly their event in late September, and write about it in Cross Country Magazine, only I can’t go and I was wondering if you would like to go instead?”

Tricky question – do I want to sit at home pondering my misery for not really having flown much this season due to family restraints, or do I go to central Turkey for a fortnight, to fly a number of different sites and see the central Anatolian highlands a bit from above?

“Hey Bob, tell them I’m in – just ask them to make the airline reservations as tight as they possibly can since I really haven’t got time for this anyway.”

So, I’m going to Turkey. Haven’t been there since 1997 (World Air Games in Denizli/Pamukkale) and I’m looking forward to it like a child looks forward to Christmas. It seems to be an unusual event in that it isn’t a traditional competition (for one thing there aren’t any Race to Goal tasks in it, as far as I can make out) plus we’ll take time off from the flying to go and have cultural experiences along the way.

I used to be a tourist guide in that area more than 20 years ago, and I LIKED it, so this little piece of bonus info sounds intriguing to me. I don’t actually know if Murat (the organiser) is going to be able to pull this off, after all there is something to be said for keeping grain and chaff separate, but with an offer like this I’m not going to argue – and I may just come back with the newfound realisation that you CAN actually mix culture and pilots!

I’m already spending a disproportionate amount of time discussing with my colleagues at UP International about which wing to take: will it be the latest two-liner comp proto? Will it be my trusted XD64 proto which proved so well-suited for the desert conditions in Salt Lake City last September, or should I just take a Trango XC?

There are as many opinions at UP as there are options here – I’m more for the new two-liner, but there aren’t so many of those around (errr – there is only one, actually) and maybe someone else needs that wing for the Superfinal in Turkey, running at the same time. So chances are it’ll be a Trango XC – I’ll keep you all posted here, just as I’ll be blogging from Turkey once I get there.

There are still places in the competition if any pilots out there would like to join in the fun.

Stay tuned,


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