Yesterday we were supposed to have a 350km task, but he weather did not turn out as good as forecasted. The day was blue, with quite strong winds. The task was 260 something km to the NNE. I started towing early as third pilot off. We had 1 hour and 30 minutes of waiting in the start circle, and with the strong winds and weak lift it was a struggle at times, but it got better gradually.
I teamed up with Michi, Curt, Blay, and one of the Russians. We got a good start and stayed together for the first 100 km. It was stable and inverted and lift only to 1400 meters, so we typically glided until down to a 1000 meters, and then thermal up to the inversion again. It was slow going, and because of the strong winds it was not smart to get lower. We pressed 20 km upwind of track, as the wind was 90 degrees cross, to be in position to drift towards goal at the end.
At around 120km we went on a long glide towards some good looking paddocs, we had been aiming for the plowed and dark areas all day, and it had worked so far. Blay had topped out before us a few thermals ago, and we had lost him. I was upwind and highest with the Russian just behind me, Curt low to my right, and Michi downwind of Curt. We spread out in search pattern, but soon were low and in deep shit, and could not find anything. This was over a remote area, but there was a farm up front with a waterhole and some dark paddocs around. I aimed for downwind of the waterhole, in case it could trigger a thermal. But there was nothing, I could see the Russian had found something weak about a km upwind of me, but I was down to 150 meters off the deck, so I could not go there.
I saw Michi land next to the farm house, and I went downwind to the treeline at the end of the paddock, where I could land close to the farm. I got a shitty thermal off the treeline, and managed to hang on to it for some turns, and it improved to a nice 3m/s core. I was saved for now, but completely alone as the Russian was still struggling upwind, and did not come to my thermal.
This sucked, as we were going quite fast, and doing well in our little gaggle, we were doing good time to make it to goal, despite the slow conditions. Alone in this meant slowing down and taking all the lift I could find.
As we had pushed upwind all day I was now in a position to go more directly downwind, or so I thought, but the wind was at times actually headwind. I had to cross over an area with no roads, no farms, just trees and small grazing paddocs. I hesitated as going alone meant I would not make enough time to make goal, and the strong winds were not helping at all. Getting out of that area with no roads would be a pain. So I turned into the wind and landed next to a small town, actually going backwards on the final, it was howling. I landed holding the basebar, and had to hold my glider down while packing up or it would slide away.
Olav had gone very early, before the start gate opened, and landed 80 km out. Nic was doing well but pushed a little too hard and landed 50 km before goal. Not many in goal, and many of the top pilots landed out.
Today is a rest day, and the funeral service for Steve Elliot. Conditions look good, weak winds and cu’s forming in the sky. But we are not complaining too much from the poolside though.