Time to go home

Well, the WAVE is over… Lots of people won lots of trophies, and we’re happy for every one of them (the people, not the trophies). We’ll include a few pics of some of the winners in here, you’ll probably be able to check out the complete list of winners on the WAVE trophy homepage soon.

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We started early to beat traffic and managed to catch a free road up the Julier pass. The weather was less than average so the photo opportunities were limited. When we stopped for coffee at the top, it even started snowing. Later on, we heard from other teams that had headed up behind us that the snowfall had intensified – we’re glad everyone made it downhill in one piece.

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Before we left we had anticipated a certain amount of WAVE related traffic – in our world, this means that there will be teams queueing at the available fast charging points and you might have to wait for your turn with several cars in front of you.

Think of it as the automobile equivalent of a potty break gone wrong

Therefore, we decided that we would avoid the most obvious choices and head for the fast charger in Flims instead, betting on the fact that nobody would make the ten mile detour to charge there. Sure enough, we were all alone and therefore able to charge immediately and for as long as we wanted.

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One factor we had not considered was the weather; starting around Flims, we had heavy rain for the rest of our trip to Schmerikon and perhaps some of you will know that rain affects range! We did make it to Schmerikon but by managing our speed and ending up with only a few miles of range left.

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After charging enough to make it to the fast charger in Rapperswil, we went on and met two other teams as well as a local friend with his LEAF there. We were lucky enough in that we arrived at the right moment and we could start charging right away.

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From there, it was a leisurely drive to Sankt Gallen. We stopped on the way to take a few pictures and were spontaneously joined by two other teams. The warm welcome on the finish line in the middle of the old town in Sankt Gallen was a real highlight. Needless to say, our car got the most prominent spot (again) and we enjoyed watching our team mates arrive and celebrated our achievement together.

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We spent the evening in a decommissioned railway shed where awards were distributed and tributes paid to all what the support and organization teams had done during these days. We’re now back at our hotel and I can tell you that the whole week was incredibly exhausting; I have rarely been so tired.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGrpsZ7BsQA

In any event, this is just a summary of today without any further insight. We’ll gladly give you a wittier comment to this year’s WAVE once we’ve had more than four hours of sleep in a row for a change, so please make sure you join us again tomorrow.

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Priorities

We all have to make our choices each and every day, some big some small. I’ve used this picture before but it kind of illustrates our day:

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“it seemed like a good idea at the time”

Today was in fact one of the last challenges of this year’s WAVE. As I mentioned yesterday, we would drive a total of three mountain passes, amongst them the Stelvio, which is one of the highest mountain passes in Switzerland at 2760m / 8300 ft.

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We started on time at a local school, where our cars were judged for decoration and design. There was a slight drizzle but nothing to worry about. When we started driving east, things cleared up very quickly.

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First, we had to cross the Fuorn pass, slightly less spectacular at 2150m / 6500 ft. but still a blast to drive and very scenic. (I’ll try to avoid saying that over and over again but you get the point)

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We stopped at Gomagoi to recharche car and crew and after coffee, we decided to (literally) pull the plug and leave. We weren’t fully charged since that’s near impossible during the day without a fast charger, but it seemed that we’d have enough to get to the top.

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Well, to make a long story short, we didn’t. David took a rather sporty approach to the Stelvio road and that took its toll. About 400 meters from the “finish line” (the top of the pass) we got stranded with the car blinking and beeping in all directions. After the turtle mode set in, we picked the safest spot we could find to stop the car and pulled out the towing rope.

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It took several attempts to find the right towing vehicle, mostly because the cars we stopped didn’t have a rear towing hook. In the end, we managed to flag down team Streez and indeed, the BYD had the possibility to attach our rope.

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So that’s how we managed to complete the last six turns of the uppermost portion of the Stelvio road. At the top, we talked the local restaurant owner into letting us plug the car into one of his 16A outlets.

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We charged for about half an hour, just enough to get the car functional again and left the parking lot with four kilometers of indicated range and zero bars, while the lady living inside the dashboard kept yelling at us that battery was extremely low and that we should find a charging station, pronto.

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We did however take advantage of the local relief and managed to cover the distance of 74km between the Stelvio and Poschiavo, our next stop, strictly by regenerating downhill, then using that energy again to get uphill from Tirano to Poschiavo. It was right on the edge, for the last five kilometers the range calculator refused to issue any statements and the lady in the dashboard got angry again.

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In the end, we entered the parking lot about ten seconds before the turtle mode set in – we wouldn’t have made it another mile.

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The tradeoff for having fun and getting stranded was that we were now stuck with no battery whatsoever and a slow charge, with just 41km to cover but another mountain pass! Indeed, we would have to cross the Bernina pass, yet another climb to 2330m / 7000ft.

We did take advantage of that time to visit the town of Poschiavo and have dinner with other WAVE friends – stranded or not. At some point we decided that we had had enough (in terms of charging) and took off.

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We made it to the top without trouble and – well, getting down never seems to be a problem.

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Thanks again to team Streez for helping us out! You’ll find further pictures and several videos of today’s prime time event on our facebook wall.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yes, it’s my dad’s birthday today. I called him around noon but we couldn’t talk. I promised to call again in the evening. Just a short while later it’s now 11:30 pm and now would be the first moment I have to dial his number again. So instead of waking him up, here’s a little video. Bon anniversaire, Papa!

And yes, by now I definitely know that I am repeating myself but this WAVE is just incredible. Yesterday’s suspicion was confirmed in that the combination of a tight schedule and steep roads will consider a challenge even though distances to cover are moderate.

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Today was another of those days where we need the roadbook in the evening to remind ourselves how many places we visited during the day. The first part until after lunch was a series of school presentations.

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You’d think you get used to being welcomed like rock stars but we don’t. It’s amazing the amount of joy and enthousiasm those kids send over simply by standing on the side of the road and cheering and clapping. simply amazing

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These shows are also for points – the kids judge our cars’ design and how we decorated them. You might have heard a mystery honk on my Sachsenring youtube video – we have an undisclosed device on board that we will present tomorrow, and we hope it helped gaining the kids’ sympathies.

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We’re really glad these events are part of the WAVE because they are truly inspiring.

Later on, after a quick charge stop at the local Supercharger/DC charger in Maienfeld where we “accidentally” bumped into about a dozen other teams queued up to charge, we went on to Landquart, where we gave pupils a ride to Küblis. Our next stop was then in Küblis itself, we had a nice get together at the local hydroelectric power plant and were treated with an extensive visit of the whole site.

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Our next stop would be Sankt Moritz – 35 kilometers away but also on the other side of the Flüela mountain pass – which meant going uphill a whopping 4500 ft. Since we were stuck with a slow charge, we were just sitting there in Küblis waiting for enough battery power to make it, when a call from Peter Schwan of Team GottliebD made it all much easier. Our support team had managed to set up the mobile fast charger in Davos, which meant we could recharge right before the final stretch of the mountain pass. That was incredibly helpful…. Thank you, Peter!

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This allowed us a more comfortable drive without being a nuisance to traffic, and we even took the liberty of having a bit of fun – after all, you get your energy back on the way down.

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As you can see above, we made it without any problems and just stopped for a picture before we went on. Temperatures were around 4C up there in wet and grey weather so we had no reason whatsoever to stay and ran as quickly as we could.

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After an incredble dinner buffet in La Punt, served by the most corteous people I’ve met recently (and yes, I’m serious here), we moved on to Zuoz where we will stay in a hotel for the night.

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I should add that the villages around here are incredibly beautiful and visiting this area here in the summer can only be recommended.

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By now we are ready to crash again (we have been since about 2 pm to be honest) and look forward to tomorrow. If you think today was hard, what with the Flüela and all, well wait until you heard what we will go through tomorrow.

We will drive over the Stelvio Pass and the Bernina Pass. We are talking about a total of around 15,000 ft of elevation to climb! We thought the Berlin-Switzerland rush was a challenge but I think tomorrow will be similar.

30a small tribute to Gjon Mili (google it)

Please note that I only use previously unpublished pictures in our blog. For pics and updates of our past and future adventures, I’ll have to refer you to our facebook page yet again.

You want the WAVE? You can’t handle the WAVE!

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At the risk of repeating myself, I have to say that this year’s WAVE is much more demanding than last year’s. Perhaps it’s just the aftermath of the marathon we covered in the last two days but batteries are low – figuratively speaking.

Ejust a figure of speech, honest.

However, since we now completed those days with the long distance travel, things are ever so slightly more relaxed. Still, between our limited range and the need/wish for fast charging, we do end up having very long days.

Today, we visited several schools in the morning to present our cars. These still are amidst our favorite moments, showing our cars to the kids and perhaps giving them ideas… who knows what the future will bring.

futuramanot this, we hope.

Later, we visited a nuclear power plant and had an interesting insight into the oldest running nuclear reactor in the world – well, not an insight into the reactor but into its operation. (rimshot) We do have a very tight schedule these days, and we did manage to follow it minute by minute. So, no delays, Wattwurm was always on time. A-L-W-A-Y-S. (I just wanna make sure the jury sees this).

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In the afternoon we presented our car in front of the railway station in Aarau, from which we moved on to Baden where ABB was hosting a mobility day. Unfortunately we did not have a chance to really enjoy that event since we had to attend the briefing which ended up lasting a bit longer than expected. We did however manage to reconnect with a few WAVE friends from 2014 who came all the way to Baden just to see us. Thank you!

Tomorrow, more schools. The challenging bit will be the fact that we will be driving into the mountains. So stay tuned, our adventures aren’t over just yet!

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We made it!

14Today was the second half of the most challenging bit of this year’s WAVE, which we completed successfully. As you can see above, with our last bit of energy, we arrived in Anwil a little before 10 pm. After covering almost 600km yesterday, we added another 500 today.

02972473-956b-4aaa-b5d1-39934f5481bc_570In case you’re wondering, this is how we feel.

We are completely dead and ready to fall asleep, so here’s just a small update.

16At our first stop in the morning in Darmstadt, we got a chance to ride a Segway on a little “Segcross” parcours. It was kinda neat, I was riding (driving? moving?) a Segway for the first time. I’m not sure whether I like it but its interaction with your own balance is certainly impressive. Of course I was not alone there.

1513In any event, it was loads of fun! At the risk of repeating myself, please note that we posted pictures of our progress on our facebook wall as we went along. There will be more again tomorrow so stay tuned!

Scenic, isn’t it?

Today was kind of special since we had a long drive ahead of us. Half of our group (the fast cars) is trying to cover the distance Berlin-Berne in 30 hours (Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon). The other half, the slow cars (like us), left Berlin on Sunday evening and will go as far as Lörrach until Tuesday evening.

tortoisebeatshareNo, it’s not what you think.

Note that in this case, “slow” and “fast” refer to the charging speed of your battery, not velocity.

We started the day with a short walk through Magdeburg from our hotel to the place where we parked the car – the hotel was near the fire station, which caught our attention.

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The first surprise we had was to find out that people were sleeping in or next to their vehicles. Some teams left Berlin rather late and arrived in the middle of the night. No bed? Who cares! Let’s just sleep where we are, as we are. Someone mentioned that this year’s WAVE was kind of an ironman WAVE and we have come to the point where I can do nothing but agree with that statement. That said, it would seem that I live a very protected life.

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Today’s task was to cover 400 km with stops in Wernigerode, Eschwege, Rosenthal and Wetzlar. Aside from the fact that sadly, CHAdeMO chargers are few and apart in Germany, there still were the Harz mountains in the way.

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Of course we used our best strategy, which includes “what goes up, must come down”.

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As you can see, we were really lucky with the weather. Just like last year, the ‘avoid motorways’ function of our Sat Nav system naturally picked some of the most beautiful and scenic drives, a thing we really enjoyed. We ended up on top of a mountain we forgot to look up the name of and enjoyed the scenery.

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Today’s various stops have been well documented on our facebook wall and I will freely admit that I am extremely tired and should probably go to sleep like ten minutes ago. Therefore, I’ll close here with a sunset. You’re welcome.

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Where’s Sunshine Kitty?

It’s amazing how similar this year’s WAVE is similar to last year’s, and yet it’s probably even more entertaining and challenging than the last one. At least I can guarantee you that we are busy all day long constantly calculating distances, range and battery charge.

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Thank God for technology.

We’re equally happy to report that today was rather easy. First off however, here’s the missing video from yesterday: my lap on (half of) the Sachsenring. As you can see, we are doing our best to support the rubber industry.

This will be a great memory – driving on the Sachsenring was a surprisingly unique experience. Anyway… the main task today consisted of driving from Leipzig to Magdeburg with stops in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and the Tesla Factory in Schönefeld.

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The whole drive was basically quiet and uneventful, which is good. The most noticeable waypoint was the quick charger at BER. A really amazing view – a whole airport, complete with parking lots, roads, fences and whatnot, just sitting there completely deserted and deteriorating. It does give you an eerie feeling to see this, it’s a really creepy place.

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In any event, things got serious today since I had a mission. Our friends from Anwil (our overnight stop next Tuesday) told us that their mascot, called Sunshine Kitty (SK) was on board on one of the WAVE cars and we ventured out to find it. All we had was this picture…

11Have you seen this kitty? (the young man pictured above is accounted for)

…and the information that SK was riding with team 38 in a BMW i3. Well, easy, let’s just ask them, right?

01“Nope”

According to Hermann from Team T-Systems, Sunshine Kitty was on board the T-Systems i3 for the World Record in Tempelhof three weeks ago but was returned to its (supposedly) rightful owner since. Well, what now? Easy! Just ask the boss. All I had to do is find Louis Palmer, which is easier said than done. Louis is the head and heart of the WAVE, which means he’s some kind of incarnation of Schroedinger’s Cat since he’s usually everywhere and nowhere to be found at the same time. In the end I managed to find him and ask about SK’s whereabouts.

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Pointing at our green electric support Tesla, he sais “it’s in Thomas’ car. I know where my stuff is!” Cool! So let’s find Thomas and get SK back now finally!

07“whaaaat?”

Thomas was positive he had never heard of someone or something called Sunshine Kitty and that there were definitely no cats inside his Tesla. Great, back to square one. Find Louis Palmer! Trying to catch a fly with chopsticks would probably have been easier but in the end I succeeded, again.

10“umm…. okkaay…”

After convincing Louis that I still hadn’t found SK and tediously explaining in great lengths that it would be paramount to the survival of western society that I find it, he suggested that SK would most probably be in the Renault Zoé of support Team 2 and that it probably would be a good idea to try and track down Chantal.

IMG_5653Meet Chantal.

several hours later, I finally managed to track Chantal down, only to find out that she was just as startled as everybody else before her when I asked about the whereabouts of Sunshine Kitty. Describing the physical appearance of SK and using the picture from the search warrant, she then admitted that that exact mascot was traveling in their support vehicle. But…. you guessed it. Since she did not have the key to the car, I would now have to track down her team mate Lisa!

IMG_5654Hello, Lisa!

We’ll interrupt our story at this point for a very important announcement – you’ll have to check our updates on our facebook wall tomorrow to find out if we have made any progress in our “Quest For Sunshine Kitty”.

In fact we would like to report fraudulent activity witnessed during the search for Sunshine Kitty. We happened to ask yet another team whether they would have an unregistered mascot on board and found out that the team’s car had actually been tampered with.

08The culprit

As a matter of fact, we found out that the ‘Electric Cruisers’ Tesla Model S 85 had been secretly modified to a PP85D+ by adding a custom front motor! And we have the pictures to prove it.

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Also, this act of ruthless violation of the WAVE rules and regulations wasn’t commited by just one person. We have reports that the driver of the vehicle pictured below was involved in these criminal activities and is currently trying to escape to the atlantic rain forest to avoid prosecution.

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Check back tomorrow on facebook to see if we managed to find Sunshine Kitty. In the meantime, please consider supporting Gordon’s and Leora’s efforts by donating to the Growing Air Foundation.

Smoke on the Water

Sometimes, even though you know you will get into trouble one way or another, you simply ignore that fact and pretend it’s not going to happen. Today was one of those days… But it wasn’t entirely our fault since the weather had its part in it.

twisterwe’ve all been there.

Innocently enough, though we were too early for the hotel staff to have breakfast ready, things were off to a good start. All teams met in Plauen on the Altmarkt for a group picture, then the official start took place. Every team got to drive over the Altmarkt and present their car. And then, first stop, good news! The Sachsenring. We had been looking forward to this for a very long time, and we will freely admit that we did prepare ourselves by watching lap videos and studying the track layout, motivated by a slight amount of competition but mostly for our own entertainment. Long story short, here’s our lap.

ddrHonestly, we have a video. We just need to get it online.

You can see we had lots of fun, even though we did not get to drive a full lap. we can thank Volkswagen for that since they were doing long distance tests on the lower part by driving back and forth over and over again. At this point I’d like to state that ‘test driver for a german automobile manufacturer’ falls into the same category as ‘CSI’: Great on TV but tedious and repetitive in real life.

HCHowever, there’s always a The Who song playing out of nowhere
when I put on my sunglasses, that part’s completely accurate.

In any event, we were lucky because large thunderstorms were pulling in and we actually got soaked on our way back. I probably would have deliberately driven the Leaf straight into a tree out of anger if I had ended up with a wet lap, so that’s that.

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We went back to Zwickau where we were guests at the local Trabant meeting. Just like any other old car, there’s a large community caring for these cars and having fun restoring and driving them. Here’s just a glimpse of what we saw, and some of you might already know that this requires a soundtrack.

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After that, we were supposed to go to Chemnitz, then Leipzig but the Sachsenring adventure had taken its toll and charge was nearly zero when we were there. Therefore, we had to decide that we’d stay there a bit longer and skip the next stop entirely or we wouldn’t make it for dinner; gotta set your priorities straight.

In the end however, things turned out to be completely different since we ended up completing a special mission. The thunderstorm we experienced on the road also had hit the Trabant meeting – and all our cars currently on site. Lightning struck and completely destroyed the electronics of one of the Renault Twizys. But the WAVE wouldn’t be the WAVE if we wouldn’t be able to fix this as a team. Erich from Team Amperechäfer organized a fast charge in Chemnitz, allowing us to cover the distance. At the same time, Max the Twizy driver was dropped off to board the only car still left on site – that would be us. We rushed to Chemnitz where Max was taken over by Team Kastner+Richter’s Tesla Model S and rushed to Dresden, where he took over a Smart ED – so Max is still with us! Now is this a great example of team work or what?Changs-Taekwondo-Teamworkwe didn’t have any colored suits, though.

After a bit of bad luck with the fast charger which, in the end turned out to be a simple overheating problem, we went on our way to Leipzig, where we met more thunderstorms and rain. After finding a spot to charge overnight, we’re now ready to crash….

03Hey, look how well we fit in!

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You have certainly been wondering why our blog remained silent the last two days, and rightly so. Hopefully you managed to follow our progress on facebook and got notice that basically everyone is now in town and the party can start.

Ferris_Buellers_Day_Off_353and when we say party, we mean it.

We have, however, been using the last three days wisely, mainly by taking it easy and being lazy (our core talents). Our trip from Switzerland to Plauen was uneventful in the sense that it came out as expected: we’d have been much faster if we hadn’t repeatedly run into broken chargers and be forced to fix them ourselves. Add to the fact that CHAdeMO fast chargers are rather scarce in this part of Europe and bada-bing, you get stranded for a few hours. Been there done that…

But in the end we made it to Plauen safely and are currently staying in the Schloss-Hotel Jössnitz. We had all morning off on Friday and decided we should clean and decorate the car.

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A thorough cleaning and polish helped upgrade the outer appearance; we did find some blue paint under a thick layer of – well, you don’t wanna know. In any event, with the car now shiny we proceeded to apply the various stickers we brought with us. Our car now proudly sports our team name and mascot on basically every flat panel, plus a few stickers of our new sponsor chargeMAXX. We’ll blow a cloud of artificial smoke around that one and will reveal later what the full context is.

At this point I assume you didn’t buy the “cleaned and polished” story but we have actual proof of our activities; note how efficient we were, given we finished the whole job in 23 seconds – including the application of all stickers.

I bet you found that fantasmagorically annoying…anyway, here’s the result.

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As you can see, we didn’t forget to bring our flags along again – we actually managed to bring along almost everything we intended to; a sure sign that we are getting old I guess.

That said, I hope you like our new look! We are looking forward to tomorrow, we’ll be visiting Zwickau, Chemnitz and Leipzig. The biggest, albeit also probably shortest event of the day will be a lap on the Sachsenring, something we have been looking forward to so much that we recently bought an X-Box and a Wii only to find out that none of the two carry games that contain that particular track. Live and learn I guess…

Tomorrow is the official start of the race which means we have a plan and will be moving; therefore, there’s hope that tomorrow’s post will be a tad more colorful and dramatic than this one, so make sure you come back and check it out!

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What’s another year…

“Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel” – this quite simplistic statement (nevertheless expressed by one of the most iconic figures in german soccer), which translates more or less into “after the game is before the game” all of a sudden applies to us. Not too long ago we finished second in the final ranking of the WAVE 2014; since then, we’ve enjoyed the summer, test drove a few vehicles and mostly ignored the fact that we had promised to write more frequently.

 

 

 

 

 

pictured above: a summary of our most recent efforts.

But all of a sudden it’s spring again and woops – how about the WAVE 2015? Well, we have a confession to make. As a matter of fact we did sign up for this year’s WAVE Trophy and things are about to get serious. In fact, we have just a few days before things go down and we are very excited.

Now since you all have been following every single one of our posts on facebook and all those fabulous blog entries we published since day 1, you will probably know that both David and I recently evolved from what things used to be not too long ago. Here is a quick overview of the latest developments:

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Yes, yes, indeed. While Alex replaced the Twizy with a more practical Renault Zoé, David tossed every last bit of reason overboard and just flat out bought a Tesla Model S 85D. We both enjoy our cars very very much and had an incredible amount of fun recently.

Now you will say ‘Ah well, but what’s the LEAF still doing there then?’ Well, it is currently on probation – David is currently working out whether it will replace their second car or not. And yes… (drumroll) we’ll be back on the road in the LEAF for this year’s WAVE!

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admit it: this is you, two seconds ago.

Why, you ask, this tomfoolery? Well, by now it might not be breaking news to most of you that we are both slightly crazy, and therefore we decided that instead of driving through Germany on a single charge (Model S) or at least having a comfortable range and decent charging opportunities (Renault Zoé), we would opt for the biggest challenge: Our slightly charging impaired and horribly-quick-to-dry-out LEAF, forcing us to make numerous stops and locate each CHAdeMO charging spot precisely (since they are not exactly common in Germany) while still trying to remain in competition with the other teams (and ourselves, to be quite honest). After all, for us the fun in the WAVE lies in the challenge, not the achievement.

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So, believe it or not, you’ll see more of Wattwurm in their blue Nissan – we’re back, and this time we mean business! And just in case you wonder what’s going on right now, we are collecting the last bits of equipment, pretending to study all the rules and prerogatives we’re supposed to comply with and generally just eager to leave. Stay tuned, we leave town next Wednesday and the WAVE will begin on Friday, June 12 in Plauen.

That said, for no further reason than your own personal entertainment, here’s footage of our efforts to prepare ourselves for this year’s WAVE: