Benalla Storm

Benalla Storm

Sunday, December 12, 2010

JoeyGlide - Practice Days 1 & 2

JoeyGlide is the Australian Juniors National Soaring Competition. It has been successfully held annually since 2004. In 2005 Australia sent it's first two representatives to the World Junior Soaring Competition which is an indication of the competition's success in prepare young pilots for the world stage. Although the number of contenders varies from year to year, there is always an enthusiastic and skilled group of pilots that come together for the competition. At this contest you will find that morning briefings give pilots a lot more detail in terms of weather, strategy, and safety than at a more senior competition, as suited to the lower level of experience of some competitors.The junior flying movement in Australia is inspirational as a model we could follow in Canada as it is still in it's beginning stages and growing stronger each year.

Often held alongside the competition is a coaching clinic for new or lower time pilots. Participants in this coaching clinic are part of the competition atmosphere, gridding behind the contest, and flying all or part of the task with an instructor. Coachees also participate in daily briefings which explain in greater detail cross-country and competition flying and strategies. The coaching clinic is intended to be a stepping stone for those who so desire to prepare them for competition in future JoeyGlide competitions. I myself participatied in this clinic last year.

The weather the past two days has not been typical Australian booming conditions. The first of the day of the competition I struggled to properly read the sky. Winds were very strong out of the west, at times reading 28 knots on my computer, a factor which I did not sufficiently account for. I went deep into the first circle which was a good strategic decision. As I made it into the second turnpoint I thought that I was undertime and as such opted to continue downwind to get some extra distance. This was the strategic shortcoming of my day. Heading back into wind turned out to be a lot slower than I had anticipated. Although I soon realised I would be coming in well over time, I still felt I was in a good position, and started to focus on flying fast. I found myself in a really poor section of sky, and all too quickly found myself in a paddock. Although I was initially incredibly frustrated, (did I really fly all the way around the world to land out in a field??), I soon picked up my spirits remembering that it was only a practise day. Practise days should be used to make mistakes not to be repeated for the rest of the contest and to scrape the rust off my flying bones. When I looked at my trace later I also realised that I was not effectively centering my thermals, staying in the strongest part of the core.

Practise day two and I was sent out as the sniffer. Although I initially found a good climb, I soon found myself at 1300', looking down at other competitors around the field area. However the day soon improved, and I thoroughly enjoyed my flight. I focused on remembering Joerg's advice from Nationals: stay up, get around, fly fast. I am proud to say that I made it home with an average speed of 87.5km/h, one of the best speeds I have ever had. However, I also came in 25 minutes under time. This brought my speed down to 71km/h. The tactical error of the day (coming in under time) could have been prevented had I continued further in the second circle rather than heading home when I did. The reason I opted to do this was because I did not clearly understand in my head how the distance was measured for an AAT task. Another mistake made and lesson learned! And another one not to be repeated during the contest. All in all, a day full of great day! I came in with a great final glide, pushing myself faster and lower on final glide than I ever have, coming in at 450'.

All the competitors have arrived and the first contest day is tomorrow. The weather is looking good for the next couple of days. If you would like to track the contest live I do have a spot. I believe the link is:

The contest scores and updates can also be followed at: 

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