Big air in Kiewa valley

We arrived in Mount Beauty and found a great place to stay, a big house with large kitchen and apartement units. We met up with our driver Carla who drove up from Melbourne on her motorbike. After a disorganized practice day we went up to Emu and had a really nice evening flight. I took off first and found nice smooth lift, it felt claustrofobic with all the trees around takeoff, and strange to foot launch the glider. It’s a big difference from the wide open flatlands around Denni. I crossed the valley and flew around for one hour before landing on the airstrip. Quite nice to derig the glider on grass again, with a cold beer to cool down in 35 degrees.

Otto decided to leave us yesterday, he went back to Sydney to catch a flight back home. I think he got very tired, flying these comps is not exactly vacation, with dehydration, long retreives, and no food until late at night.

There’s 87 pilots in the comp here, last year it was very cramped on the take off sites with only 63 pilots. Tove is running this comp, and it seems like she let everyone who wanted in.

Yesterday the first task got underway, we went up to Emu, where the pilots got split between the two launches. The task was 119 km up the valley, and then out on the flats. Forecast was very warm, over 40 degrees, thunderstorms over the mountains and weak winds. I got off the hill after the early birds did not take off within their allocated half hour, the launch conditions were not the best with crosswind in periods. Quite a few of the first pilots got low, and a few bombed out, while others seemed to find good lift out neat the bottom of the ridges. I launched after Ron Gleason on his ATOS, we went straight into a thermal and climbed above take off. The turn direction was left, but Ron went right and messed up for both of us as I banked up more in the core and climbed up to him. I spotted a white and blue Litespeed going fast up furhter out on the ridge, and glided in over him. Wham – straight into a 5 m/s, quite rough but improving all the way up. It was a wild ride, and I had plenty of work avoiding the other cliders as everyone dived into the thermal from the area around.

I loked at the vario once more, climbing with more than 6 m/s average past 3500 meters. I left at around 3700 meters, still a long way from cloudbase as traffic became difficult with rigids and flexwing all thermaling in different directions and different cores. I was probably getting a little hypoxic as well. Gliding towards the edge of the start circle I had good air and stayed at around zero for a long time. Passing the start circle and gliding towards the Tawonga Gap I remember Tomas’s saying “The way to cross the gap is to get high and stay high”, no problemo – I’m still above 3500 meters, but not for long. I hit sink going upwind of the clouds looking for thermals, I try crossing upwind more, then cross and downwind, the ground coming up fast. I spot a few other gliders circling up ahead, but I’m falling out of the sky, getting nowhere near the glide angle I ned to get there. The air is quite rough as well, and it’s hard to keep up the speed and gliding straight. I land 26 km from the first TP near the main road, almost deaf from the pressure in my ears and shaking with andredaline. My vario shows max sink of -14.6 m/s

Looking at my tracklog when scoring I flew 14 km from 3700 meters to ground level at 300 meters. That’s 4:1 glide ratio…
It must have been waving, people were climing strong far from any clouds and each other, and also going down at fenomenal rates. Dave Sieb got to 4700 meters in strong lift.

Olav’s vario failed just after take off, and he bombed out. Gordon landed in Myrtleford, some 26 km short of goal, after having a similar expirience with strong sink as I had.

Today was cancelled with thunder and lightning at 10:30, forecast for the next days are good.