NOVA XC-Challenge 2015:
Toni Brügger wins the MENTOR Challenge
The Swiss has been flying consistently well throughout the season. If two of his flights had not been disqualified for minor airspace infringements, he would have been ranked second overall in the world-wide standard class.
His report on his winning flight:
After an early launch and a good first climb I have big plans. Fast, aggressive and often low, I glide over Bellwald into the Obergoms. At Grafschaft I have to pull on the hand brake and have a long fight to stay up. Other pilots catch up and glide over me towards the valley. The thermals are not yet fully established and low down I creep from one ridge to the next, fighting for every meter. Is the day already over? At Münster I get a last chance. The climbs are better here and I can work myself into a better position of safety. At Obergestelen I got the climb I was looking for and I finally got to cloudbase. Now I feel really alert and the day really starts to develop.
I pass over Grimsel and Furka very quickly. I set my first turnpoint at the Hospen valley. The onward and return flight is pure pleasure. At the Riederalp I cross to the Haute Route and I fly across the high mountains and glaciers. The thermals are reliable and base is high in the Lower Valais. I relax and enjoy my day off. It is only 3pm when I pass the Diableret. The Saanenland looks great with lovely cumulus and an equally high cloudbase. Nobody else in the air – it’s magical.
At Château d'Oex there is the big question how far the airspace at the Saanen airfield extends. After a few airspace infringements this season I am careful and change course. I hot-foot it across the Sanetsch Pass to Crans Montana. I take great care passing the TMA 1 and I cross the Rhone valley to the Illhorn. Always flying high and fast. I cross from the Schwarzhorn 1 to the Schwarzhorn 2 and then continue to the Matter valley. Where is the damn FAI sector? I have no idea and it is not really important anymore. The day is just wonderful. At the Alphubel above Täsch I turn for the final time. The return flight to Fiesch looks easy. But the distance can be deceptive. Complete concentration is required.
In the past I have made a few attempts and failed. In the Saas valley I wait for a good climb, get to cloudbase and start my final glide. The southerly wind is now firmly established and I have three options. I decide to fly to the south side of Rosswald and in the southerly breeze I am able to soar and gain 300m. That's all. In the lee I find myself flushed down to Brig and I am very low when I find the next thermal. Three of us help each other out of the sink and back to cloudbase. The return flight to the Kühboden in the setting sun feels great after all the drama in Brig. Mission completed, final glide and just for a change I do an elegant landing in Mörel. What a wonderful day!