Bad weather, but only 360 km to go to the finish line. The next TP, Oerlinghausen,
was 180 km to the north, and the radar picture at 9am showed a cold front across the track
with a lot of rain. The forecast for the next few days was poor.
If we get stuck here, the gliders behind us will catch us up.
Our only hope is to try to
get past the cold front, using our turbos again. We would have to soar for at least 120km first.
It would be a race against time, and if we couldn't make it we might end up being retrieved back
to the Wasserkuppe.
Ready for departure on the Wasserkuppe.
Gerrit is a master at this sort of European soaring. Me, I like to have useable thermals before
I launch, but maybe I'm too fussy. We launched at 10:10 am, from a 900m hill, under a 1500m cloudbase,
and glid out over the 450m countryside very carefully and were soon below the airfield elevation.
We spent ages in weak thermals, just staying airborne, but gradually things improved and we covered
120 km in three hours.
Then we reached the front, low cloud and rain, and started the turbos to fly
under the cloud (turbo running, airbrakes open!!) and then climbed high enough under a dead sky to
glide into Oerlinghausen. Ingo Renner greeted us warmly and secured a large lunch for us in their
restaurant, part of their splendid new accommodation/office/gliding school complex.
We hoped to launch again as soon as the conditions behind the front improved. Eventually, at 15:40,
we took off for the 180km leg to the finish at Venlo. The wind behind the front was a strong westerly,
giving us a 45 kph headwind. The cloudbase was a respectable 1500m, but the thermals so weak and
difficult to work that we could hardly make any progress.
Leaving Oerlinghausen in the rain.
After three hours it was getting desperate,
we were using broken blue thermals between 400 and 900m and drifting backwards all the time. Our crew
complained that they were stuck in a huge traffic jam for an hour, but at least they weren't going
I could hardly believe it when we began to creep towards the Dutch border, still airborne
at 8pm. Gerrit caught a bubble that I missed, and I had to use the turbo 20km before the finish.
We crossed the airfield together, and flew a formation circuit and landing. 2211km in 4 days!!!
The previous record for the 2000km race had been 6 days! Champagne all round.
Euroglide is Fantastic Fun!!!
A Dutch version of this story and other gliding adventures of PM and VW are available on the