Benalla Storm

Benalla Storm

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 7

As Chris said, Club Class was pushed off of the side of the grid to give the Standard Class a better chance to fly. Chris decided to have a nap on the grid.
I really didn't think we were going fly. Storm clouds had moved through earlier in the day with verga, then some altocumulus came in, then dead calm air. Slowly though we started to feel a few thermals move through and they decided to launch the grid. I think people were still skeptical and I heard that one Standard Class glider dumped some water on the grid. Soon enough though they were getting pretty high! Cloud class got pushed on and we launched into beautiful air! I had forgotten what the ground looked like at 8500ft!!

Well, as much fun as it was to be in thermal wave to 2500m, the start gate opened at 2000m so I was forced to lose altitude, and much of the working band, to get low enough for the start. It was tricky because you didn't want to get too much below the working band or it was very difficult to re-connect with the clouds. I managed to find a few other gliders at the start and we flew south along a band of clouds to the first turnpoint. It was pretty fun, and I had to keep reminding myself to fly fast! Along the first leg we met up with some Standard Class gliders flying the other direction, gave them a wave, and kept on going south. As we flew south the clouds kept forming, although they got weaker as we got further south. I flew most of this leg behind Nathan Johnson, and let me tell you, he is an amazing pilot, and is especially great at finding energy lines. It was great to watch him!

We finally joined a gaggle "low" in the first turnpoint (by low I mean 1600m higher than we have been getting most of the rest of the comp!!). I was following behind a group of other gliders, and was hesitant because I was much lower than them. Nonetheless I managed to get final glide partway along the second leg! How cool. I realised I was going to be a bit over time so initially thought I would just clip the second circle. When I got there there was a massive cloud leading right on track into the turnpoint so I followed it further in, gaining altitude, speed, and distance (how sweet!). I then turned for home, still above final glide, and cruising along well. I reckon I still could have flown a little bit faster as I finished 300 feet high. It was a neat finish and I hope someone got a photo or two because I was on final with 5 or 6 other gliders! Just in time for a good landing and a cold beer. I finished the day in 15th place with 74kph (still 20kph slower than the winner, unreal!). I need to fly more consistently. (Although I have never had this problem before...) Unfortunately points from the day were severely de-valued due to the short task time and distance. Tim Kuijspers from the Netherlands has moved into first place ahead of the Germans so hopefully he can hold his lead today! Andrew Maddocks also had a great day finishing in 9th place!

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