Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bogong Cup, Day 6

We decided for a task at Stanwell Park today ;-)  Well, the real truth is we got impatient waiting for good weather in Mt. Beauty, so we drove back to Sydney the day before yesterday.  There was a bit of angst that conditions would improve and make a task possible, but in the end, we worried for nothing.  Another high wind day yesterday and no task :-(

But Sydney turned out to be a great choice.  Stanwell was blowing about 120 degrees off, so we thought flying would be out.  We spent the day down at the beach below sunbathing and swimming.  By afternoon we headed up to the park and had a little picnic and bird watching session.  The cockatoos were very friendly and became more and more brave all afternoon.

Around 6 or so, after laying around in the park all afternoon, out of the blue Zippy looked up and the wind sock on launch had switched around 100 degrees or so and suddenly it was flyable.  We rushed up the hill, rigged as quickly as we could and managed to get an hour and half in the air before sunset, derigged in the dark and driving away very happy for an unexpected flight.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Today's Sky

Good decision to cancel the task today ;-)

Day 5 - More Wind

There was quite a discussion at the briefing this morning about yesterday's task and the flying conditions.  It's always interesting to me to see how differently individual pilots experience the same air.  Reports came in that at the higher altitudes there were 60 km winds, some landed in 30 km winds, yet some still felt it was a perfectly safe task and a few said they really enjoyed their flights.  I am hardly the one to argue this issue because I didn't fly (conditions looked way too rough for me) and I am generally quite conservative when it comes to turbulence.  But as a competitor and an organizer it is an interesting discussion.  What kind of hang gliding competition do most pilots want?  Do we want a test of flying skill or a test of courage?  While I wouldn't win either one, I have zero interest in a contest that is merely a test of who is willing to take the most changes and who can endure the most bouncing around in the air.  But it appears there are people that don't mind that sort of thing. 

The forecast is calling for more wind tomorrow and likely even more the next day :-(  There is some chance of a task on Saturday, but it's too far out to tell really.  

Jonny won the day yesterday coming in about 13 minutes ahead of the next guy, Swiss Nick and Rowan came in third.  I fear that this could be the final standings for the comp.

Rough Riding

We watched the clouds forming over launch today and worried a bit.  A combination of wind and an inversion layer made for rough looking skies.  I opted not to fly, as did a few others.  However, most went and had a pretty rough ride of it.  Several landed straight away at the airfield in Mt. Beauty.  The rest are still on course.  Our apartment is just above town and I can see goal at the airfield from here.  No one in yet, but it's nearing 6pm, so if any are returning from the 100km course they should be here soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 4 - Finaly a Task!!

We're at the Emu launch today. Mostly blue skies and a bit on the cold
side. But, we have flyable conditions so we're all happy. The task is
a zig zag up the valley and back to the Mt. Beauty airstrip.

Bogong Cup, Days 2 and 3

Still no task here, but somehow it's fine with me.  It's beautiful and despite not flying in the Forbes meet, I still feel the need to rest up from it.  Yesterday the wind was howling so by the 11am briefing they chose to can the day.  Paddy, one of the local pilots, took us on a grueling mountain biking tour.  I wasn't exactly up for single-track riding, but it was great anyway.

The temperature dropped dramatically today.  The clouds, wind and precipitation came in a spoiled Day 3 as well.  We sped up the mountain after Jonny and the Canugnra boys in search of snow.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  This is summer in Australia?

It wasn't sticking to the ground, but it sure felt cold!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bogong Cup

Not exactly ideal weather here for the Bogong Cup.  Yesterday was cancelled for high winds before even going up the hill.  This morning's briefing sounded discouraging to say the least, but we're re-briefing again in a hour to see if things improve.  In all likelihood we won't drive up the hill today either.

We're finding plenty else to do....bird watching (cockatiels and gulaws), kangaroo hunting (there's a gang of them out at the golf course most evenings), a bit of kangaroo imitating and a lot of staying out too late trying to drink the weather better (not working so far).

We heard there was live music in Bright last night, so we headed over after dinner.  Turns out it was a youth brass band doing pop songs.  We stuck around for Stairway to Heaven, Georgia on my Mind and a few others before heading off to the pub for a fairly decent cover band with a great little girl singer and a lot of local color.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Me and Ken Together Again

Just had a beautiful flight with Shedsy and Zac from the Mystic
launch. This place is lovely and it feels so good to be back with Ken
enjoying his super smooth handling ;-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Forbes Wrap-Up

We're cozy in our lovely cabin at Mt. Beauty now.  The Forbes Flatlands comp ended well...particularly well for some.  I've been praying for a month for bad weather on the last day of the comp because Carl had to head home a day early for work.  What luck!  After nine straight days of flying, pilots were exhausted and voted for a rest the last day as the wind was a bit high and the tow paddock was a bit rough.  Turns out it was very rough.  A monster thermal came through and chewed up and spit out one of the dragonflies.  Luckily, there wasn't too much damage and a collection at the closing party raised nearly enough to cover the repairs.  Most everyone gathered at the town pool to stay cool in the 100+ degree heat.

Jonny boy won again.  Not unexpected from my point of view.  Attila was second and Zac came in third.  It was so fun to see him doing so well!

Shedsy, Zac and I made a leisurely drive to Mt. Beauty today.  We quickly got out of the heat and into the nice cool of the mountains.  The weather forecast isn't looking fantastic, but surely it will improve.

Shedsy whipped up a lovely pasta dinner.  This is such a nice relaxing place so far and our cabin is great!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wearing down...

Eight straight days of flying is starting to take its toll on everyone.  Even the young are getting slow and tired.

Here's Mexican Rodrigo coming into goal.

Me and my sweetie.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

For Dillon

After quite a few days in Oz, we finally managed to round up a few kangaroos.  These ones are for you Dillon!


Thomas Suchanek came out to visit at launch and goal yesterday.  He still has many friends in hang gliding, but only flies sailplanes.

Jonny was quite pleased to move into first place after Zac's bad day yesterday.

A few champions together....former, recent and soon-to-be ;-)

Hot, Lazy Days

....ok, only lazy for me.  The heat and running around non-stop is wearing me out.  I can't imagine flying 10 days in these conditions.  They voted on whether to take a rest day yesterday and most of the pilots wanted to fly, so they flew.  Some sounded this morning as though they were regretting that decision.  But, with only today, tomorrow and Tuesday left, there's no way they'll have a rest day now.  Myself, I'm praying for pouring rain on Tuesday so Carlos doesn't have to miss anything.

Here are a few photo albums from the past few days

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Day 5

Another task coming back to Forbes today - makes my life so easy ;-)  They're doing a 149km triangle to the north and west and then landing at the "World's" goal field just about 20km out of town.

I'm so impressed with how well everyone tows here.  Five days now and I haven't seen any scary tows, other than Shapiro's launch into a dust devil (and he was doing everything possible to stay in line).  Vicki and the tug pilots are so professional and really work their butts off all day!

I'll head out to goal in an hour or so and see how they come in.  Only 40 points between first and second places at the moment and Jonny could easily overtake Zac if Zac doesn't stay on top of it.  Also just about 40 points between Attila and Carl in third and fourth place.  All the scores can be found HERE.

Meanwhile, here's a shot taken by Shedsy of Jonny coming in below him.

Day 4

Fairly uneventful day yesterday.  There was quite a lot of overdevelopment around us, but none directly over or along courseline.  With nice light winds, they were able to call an out and return task.  Gerolf was a happy camper at last, finally winning a day.  There were heaps into goal, probably around 40.  

Here's Jonny doing what Jonny does best.    
The town of Forbes is lovely...quite charming for such an out of the way place.  We have great sunsets most every night.  This is looking west from HQ in town.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Wild Day at Goal

Amazing day at the goal field today.  I watched developing thunderstorms all along the way in the car and wondered most of the way if the task was cancelled.  My phone had no coverage and I couldn't reach anyone by radio so I was getting a bit worried.  Here's a shot out the window.  The sky looked pretty evil, but it was nothing compared to what was coming for the poor boys at goal.
I hadn't been at goal for a minute when I heard Jonny say "we've got 30 seconds guys!!"  No one paid all that much attention and it didn't matter much because it was more like 20 seconds when the first wave of the gust front hit from the south.
As quickly as I could help get Carl's glider secured I grabbed the camera and started shooting.  By that time several gliders were flying.  Gerolf's slammed into Shedy's back and then the leading edge of his glider. Over the top of both of them came   Tony Lowrey's glider.  He held on for as long as he could, until the wires sliced through his fingers and he had to let it go. 
I got the most of the sequence here.

Once it landed across the goal field I turned to see how the others were doing.  Blenkie's was pinned up against a car and Oyvind's was upside down a ways down the field.  I thought the worst was over and turn back to find Tony's glider going up for a second flight.

It was the saddest thing I've ever seen.  We were all just so grateful that no one was attached to any glider at that point.  I'm sure it would have been unsurviveable.  Here's Tony's driver giving the last rights to his poor Litespeed.

Thankfully, Tony is ok.  He went to the hospital on the way back and only needed several stitches in his hands.

Chatting with Attila back at HQ, he said in all his years hang gliding he had never seen anything like this.