Monday, January 17 - Take 1
The day was forecasted to be decent so we all pulled out to the grid and got set to go. The Sports Class launched first and it didn't take long for them to struggle hard. Benalla was stuck in a blue suckerhole. Launching for Club Class was held, and soon the day was scrubbed. However, a ways off to the West we could see a new air mass moving in, so several of us sat tight on the field, watching out for "grid rash" as the grid dismantled. Tobi and I decided to go for a short-ish local flight so he could actually see me fly to better mentor me. A "local" flight soon turned into Tobi dashing out at 2500' feet towards the first turnpoint. Although I thought he was crazy, I followed along. As soon as we hit the new air mass the day was booming. We did a lead-and-follow, mostly with Tobi leading and me following. As we neared the first turnpoint Tobi suggested that we complete the rest of the task, so that's exactly what we did. It wasn't quite as legendary as that story I hear of Jerzy Szemplinski going to fly a cancelled task without even turning once, but we made it around! I learned a lot by watching Tobi flying off in the distance, faithful that a thermal would come up when he needed it. I saw him being very selective for only the best part of the cores. And hopefully I can start reading clouds better and better, picking the strong energy lines. Due to the outstanding handicap of the Libelle against the LS4 I ended up "winning" the day, and was given my first daily prize bottle of wine the following morning.
Tuesday, January 18 - Take 2
This day was a struggle all the way around the task. Lift didn't get any higher than 5000' ASL. Gaggles were prevelant throughout the entire task. By the first turnpoint at Dookie four pilots in the Club Class had landed out. I was 1000' over the first turnpoint, but managed to hang on as I watched another glider land in a red field. My goal from the start was to fly the minimum task distance and make it home. Things were going pretty well along the second and third legs, and I managed to stick with a slow but moving group of people. I got stuck again on the north side of the river, and lost quite a bit of time there. Along the Warrabie ranges I met up with lots of other gliders, and started to get excited for home. I took the highest climb I could north of Lake Mikoan, and was hoping that would be enough to take me home as the south side of the lake was dead due to lake shadow. Unfortunately I didn't make it home, but I managed to make it to the final turnpoint, the Winton Racetrack. Coming in I cleared some high trees on final and did my best to bring that Libelle down. Without a working wheel brake I was forced to intentionally ground loop to avoid running into the fences at the end of the raceway. Luckily my glider and myself both had no damage. I managed to find some employees of the racetrack to open the gates, and my retrieve crew was there very quickly. Although I was disappointed to landout, I was still very happy with my flight. I made it around the course much further than many of my fellow competitors. I also took the final climb available right to the top, but the Libelle just couldn't make it home with the low height and strong headwind. Plus, it makes a great story to say that I landed in the middle of the Winton Racetrack! After we de-rigged we pulled the top down on the convertible and enjoyed a cold beer in the middle of the racetrack before driving home towards the sunset.