Category Archives: Competitions

Cracking in Hay, heading home

I wish it was another comp after Hay to start all over again, but now it’s time to get back home. It’s been good, but too many canceled days. Tha last day in Hay was fantastic, we had cloudbase at 3700 meters, loads of 5 m/s thermals and a long task. Just as I remember Hay to be. The task was 194 km to the SSW, weak tailwind up high, stonger lower down. I flew all or nothing, having nothing to loose I wanted to see how fast it was possible to go. I pulled in the bar gliding at 110 to 130 km between the thermals, followed a cloudstreet for 40 km west of the courseline. I crossed back towards the courseline through a blue area hoping for the last good thermal needed for a 40 km final glide. Sadly I did not get it under the good looking cloud, and driftet along towards goal getting lower and lower. I landed 22 km from goal, If I had found that last thermal I would have had a winning time. Fun flight in great conditions.

Now I’m back in Sydney, we’re having a barbeque at Bill and Molly’s place. The French team are here, Gerolf, Steve and Vicki. My flights out tomorrow afternoon. I’ll spend the day at the beach if the weather improves a little, it’s raining now.

Fix Or Repair Daily

We did get to fly two days ago as the wind finally calmed down a little in the afternoon. The task was 167 km west. It turrned out the goal was in the middle of nowhere as the coordinates were wrong. I flew with Bo after the TP, conditions were OK with a strong inversion from 1200 meters. I got to 1500 in the best thermals. I forgot about the first TP and flew back to get it, then I joined up with Bo. We did a few good long glides, but got low near a lake. After drifting 10 km we got something 200 meters over a treeline and got up there. Only problem was the three local eagles attacking us on the way up. I attacked back once I got some height and the eagles left me alone to dive down and harass Bo instead. I glided when the thermal started breaking up at 1200 meters, Bo staid and and later I heard he got to 2000 meters. Next was a huge forest, I glided hoping to get something from the treeline where the forest begun but only found sink and landed 34 km short. It felt like my brain had shut down before the flight had started, I did not plan ahead or try to look around for clues and other gliders. I just flew along without any motivation or desire.

As Matt came to pick me up the fanbelt on the car fell off. I walked out a few km from the field I had landed to find him. We had no extra belt, and no tools exept a leatherman. We broke the belt trying to run it on again with the starter, and called the NRMA. He came around and changed the belt, but must have done a piss poor job, as the new belt squealed and finally broke again as we were to drive back at 23:30 after picking everyone up. We called the NRMA again, but the guy had no more belts. We finally got back at 4:30, and Matt got a mate to drive him out the next day with new belts and bring the car back.

Yesterday we flew south, 178 km towards Echuka. I tow up through a lot of sink, and get dropped off near some weak lift. I drift low over town and get up to 2000 meters over the airport south of Hay. The day seems good, with cloudbase over 3000 meters. It’s the first day here with clouds. Bloody warm on the ground with 47 degress in the shade measured in the paddock. I get up to 2700 meters and go on glide, get low and fight for a long time to get back up again. The cloud is really hard to read, and I cannot connect the thermals to the clouds. I plot a course towards Deniliquin under good looking clouds but the only one working is a ragged dead looking patch of fog. Arriving west of Denni at 1000 meters I decide I’ve had enough flying for today, park into wind and land 54 km short, next to the crossing highway.

I have a motivational problem in this comp, I’m unable to concentrate on the task and the flying. I have to really force myself to get out and up in the air. I never had this problem before, even if I did badly in a comp. Yesterday I would most likely have made goal if I had continued to fly, it did just not seem worth the effort. Sigh… Today is finally the last day, conditions seem good, with a little less wind down low, but more in the height than yesterday.

Blown out

Yesterday it was blown out. We set up and waited for a long time being sandblasted in the dust and sand picked up by the gusts. Today looks pretty windy as well, we have had two briefings, and the next one at 13:00 to finally decide if we go out to the paddock. The temperature have dropped 15 degrees over night as the southerly came trough, and people are wearing their fleece jackets in 25 degrees!
Only 3 days left if they can it today. This wind sucks.

Results are available at
Task 2 was strange, looks like the course choice made all the difference. I did get to beat Oleg and Gordon 8-)


Short report before we go out to fly again, it’s been late before we get back, so I write this in the morning before we head out to the paddock.

I bombed out on task one, difficult conditions in the start of the task, where I could only get to 800 meters. I made a bad decition, and had to land when the gaggle I was aiming for left and came back to the lift I had left. Great start on the comp – NOT! Olav did good and got 17. place. Gordon missed the start time and lost almost 15 minutes.

Yesterday we got away late, as the wind turned and the car tow people had to change lanes. Conditions were much better but there was a lot of smoke in the air from the bush fires. We got a 104 km task to the east along the highway. I took the 16:00 startgate with Johnny Jr. Gerolf and Oleg. Good air and tailwind made the first part quite fast. I stopped in a good 3 m/s thermal and got up to 2500 where Johnny and Gerolf glided on, Oleg glided straight out and landed 40 km short. The next area was difficult as we crossed over the river and came over some irrigated fields. I was a little to the left of the track and got really low over the higway. I could see some other gliders going up in some weak stuff behind me and turned around instead of going straight into the unknown. I think that was wise, as a few others landed out there where I would have gone. We driftet along the river between 400 and 600 meters for a long time. After about 30 minutes a group of 10 gliders joined and we could search over a larger area. Finally after beein low for almost one hour and getting nowhere we got up to 1500 meters and could glide on towards goal. The day was getting late and that glide became final glide. I landed 4 km short of goal, with 6 other gliders from the same gaggle. Olav made good time to goal and placed around 15. place. Gordon had a glass fiber tip break in the air, he continued to fly but landed 8 km short of goal.

Conditions today look good, southerly winds and blue skies after a front passed tonight.

Where the hell is Hay

Finally we can leave the smoke filled Kiewa valley behind and get up north to the Australian National HG Championships in Hay. The last two days of the Bogong Cup was cancelled because we had nowhere to take off. All the sites facing north were on fire, and it was tail at the Pines. It’s really too bad with all the fires, the conditions were really good all days, I think we would have had some fantastic flying in the valleys if there were no fires. Here’s a shot from “The Pines” site. The site is 300 meters high, and you can see how low visibility we had. Still good flying though, 10 pilots made the 160 km goal.
Smog at The Pines

Here are the fires on Mount Emu at night. The image is a little blurred because it’s shot without a camera support, 15 second exposure and ISO 400 equivalent on my digital Canon G2. The fires near Falls Creek and Mt. Buffalo were much worse.
Fires on Mt. Emu

Oleg won the Bogong Cup, Gerolf second, Paris third. Oleg’s Combat 2 seems to perform well, and he’s flying very consistent, by winning he comp while never winning a task. Olav and me placed way down somewhere around 40. place, both of us had 2 really bad days, with equipment failing, and bad decitions made. After bombing on the first day you’re way back in the launch order, which makes it ever more difficult to get a good day as all the good guys are ahead and impossible to catch up with. Hay should be a little better as we tow up and have a better chance of timing the start.

Gordon and I drove from Mount Beauty, Olav and Else Britt had spent the two cancelled days in Melbourne to have some time off. We stopped in Albury to visit Carla in the hospital, she was up for another operation that evening. Her femur bone had split in three, and the knee was a mess according to the surgeon. She seemed to be in good mood though, best wishes!

We came to Hay and booked in with Greg at the Hay Caravan Park for the rest of our stay here. Yesterday we picked up Matt our resident driver here in Hay, and went out to the paddock to have some test flights. The paddock is just dust, nothing lives there, not even ants. The sand was like snow drifts along the fence, a dead sheep covered in sand was blocking the gate. The conditions were quite stable, and I had to take a second tow to get up. Olav did not get up with 4 tows, Gordon took out a downtube after a failed start, he did not check the towing ropes were in the right place and took off with the keel rope under the arm. I circled up to 1800 meters, and flew around for one hour. Plenty of huge dustdevils, but far between the thermals. The area to the north is just dust, it’s like flying over the Sahara.

Registration and practice day is today. Seems like there will be a good number of pilots here. Since I flew yesterday I chose to stay in town, near the very nice Olympic size swimming pool. It’s 37 degree in the shade, probably well over 40 out in the towing paddock. Gordon went out to test fly his glider after a few adjustments. The weather is supposed to be good, which means bloody hot and stable. A front is supposed to move in in a few days and make it more unstable again, it’s almost no wind here.

More smoke and flatlands

The forecast for task 4 was that it would be northerly and unlaunchable at the Pines. But when we got there it was fine, and quite good conditions. We got a long one way task of 160 km, as the next day would surely not be flyable with strong northerly. I’m back on my old Brauniger/Garmin 12 combo as the display of my Galileo have failed.

I found it hard going from the start gate, the smoke was really bad and visibility almost none. I feels like being inside a cloud all the time, the ground barely visible from 1000 meters and up, impossible to spot other gliders ahead. I got the lowest save so far just outside Warangaratta, I was searching an area where the air felt good but nothing was kicking off. It was looking bad, and i was trying in all corners of the field over the treelines and shouting at the sheep to make them run and maybe set off some movement of the air – Nothing. I opened my harness, set up for landing, and just as I’m straightening up for landing I hit something. I’m below the trees, but it’s a huge field and plenty of room so I do a few turns keeping between 20 and 50 meters, until it kicks off and I slowly get back up to 400 meters. I then could search around a bit to find the core, with got me back up to 2100 meters. Gliding across some small hills near a lake i get hammered in sink again, something big must have gone up nearby, and I’m falling out of the sky with -9 m/s on the averager for a long time. (At least it feels that way with such strong sink) It looks like I’m ending up in the trees for a while, but the sink slows down to “only” -4 m/s and I get out over some fields and farms. The area is dead, nothing going up and I land on a farm. The farmer’s really friendly and invites me in and supplies a cold coke while I wait for Else Britt to pick me up. Only 40 something km on a 160 km day, bomb out again. Olav does really well and gets 19. place 43 km from goal. Gordon in goal. We get back around midnight.

Yesterday the Pines was still on, the forecasted northerly did not come through until very late in the day. The task is 119 km out and return, almost no wind. I did not get drawn for the alternate, and launch quite late, conditions around the hill were quite slow for most people throughout the day, the high pressure and smoke making it’s impact. I meet up with Olav inside the start circle, and get back up to 1500 meters in some broke lift, Olav a few hundred below me. I spot a gaggle of 20 gliders and join them for the first glide out. 10 pilots land below me before I find a weak thermal at 700 meters, we all climb up to 1000 meters before it stops. The next glide is a killer, 8 more of us land, but I’m highest and manage to get maybe 50 meters of some turbulence. I glide low over some huge power lines, and finally find a 2 m/s thermal that take me back to 1500 meters. My GPS batteries have failed, they were charged, but I can only turn on the GPS and have a fix for 10 seconds before it switches off again. My backup is on and in my harness, but I cannot take it out as the datalogger is connected to the backup and might fall out. As I glide along in the direction I think is towards the TP I suddenly spot another glider circling up, joining in the thermal several more gliders materialize out of the smoke. Seems like I was not too far off the course line. These guys are being a little to slow for me, the day is running out, and I glide off together with a German on a Climax when the thermal starts slowing down in the inversion. After we got low over some hills 20 km from the TP we mark the thermal for the main gaggle coming back. It’s a lot easier getting up when there’s 20 odd gliders to mark the best parts of the lift. I spot Davis and John Jr below me, too bad I’m heading the other way. I get over the area where I think the TP is, and find a good thermal getting back to 1850 meters. I turn on the GPS again and find that the thermal actually was directly over the TP, and I’m inside the 400 meter circle. The clock is now 18:00 and I suspect the day is shutting down. Alberto and Chris Muller is below me on the glide from the TP and we work some weak lift but not gaining much. I land with Alberto 35 km from goal at 18:35. Nice flight, and as Alberto said “When you land at 18:30 on a blue day the job is done”

It’s good to get back into flying shape again, it’s only the last few tasks that I can say the “feeling” is back. I’m not struggling to keep the glider going straight, I can get back up from low again, and gaggle flying is not as scary as the first days. Matrix harness is pretty good, tilt is a little harder than the M2 I had, but with the right technique it’s quite nice because it does not move in turbulent air. I hook directly into the glider with a bolt through the dingle dangle, so the position is perfect.

The glider seems to be good except for the fiberglass tips that are too soft. They bend in the heat and makes it important to set them back in the same position every time so that the glider goes straight. Moyes have promised to send out a new batch to Hay. Otherwise the glider seems good. Plenty of bar pressure as the sail sets on the frame, and I will make some adjustments to have less high siding before we go to Hay.

Today the northerly came, and we have nowhere to take off as the fires are still burning on Buffalo. Might be better tomorrow, at least the smoke will be pushed away and the air clear again.

Flatlands in the smoke

The thunderstorm that passed on the second day set off lots of fires to the areas around Mount Beauty. The Emu launch has been burning, Buffalo is on fire, and there’s a huge fire near Falls Creek just up the valley. The Corryong cup have also been threatened by the fires, last we heard the town was in danger of being evacuated. We are OK down here, but the valleys are filled with smoke, visibility is down to less than a km in some areas. It’s quite a sight at night, when you can see the flames over huge areas. I’ve got a few pictures of the fires to upload once I can get to a decent internet connection.

Our driver Carla had an accident on her motorbike. She was showing off doing wheelies, lost it on gravel, hit a ditch, and broke her leg. She is in Albury hospital after an operation to fix up the knee. Else Britt drove for us a couple of days, and two other local girls the last few days. All the drivers that are normally available are out fighting fires.

We still get to fly. All tasks so far have been off The Pines launch, which is a small 300 meter high hill near Myrtleford, 70 km drive from Mount Beauty. From there we have had task out on the flatlands, since there’s no way we can get back into the mountains with all the smoke and fire fighting aircraft around. For task 2 we all signed up for alternate launch to get off a little earlier, but that was before I knew we were to launch from such a low hill. With my luck i got drawn to be number 2 after Davis. Olav got 3 and Gordon 4. Suspicious… The task was 109 km out and return, back to the Brown Brothers airstrip. Davis was not ready so I got to get off as the first one. The conditions did not look very good as a few paragliders had all gone straight down. I waited for a while, but a pilot further back in the line started a push. Then all pilots ahead have one minute each to launch (one minute of launchable air), if you don’t launch you go to the back of the line. I took off and went to the right where I saw some of the wind dummies had found something earlier. The wind was quite string on the hill, but it was not possible to ridge soar, so i slowly lost height following the ridge. I turned, and told Olav and Gordon on the radio to try going left instead. Just over the trees in the bombout field I found some lift and managed a few turns in zero before I lost it. Landing in the bomb out I could see Gordon getting up to the left, and Olav fighting to get up in the same lift I had over the trees. I packed up, went back up and launched as one of the last one of the hill. I got to the TP and halfway back to goal before the day ended, it was quite hard with strong headwind on the last leg. I landed 33 km from Goal, Olav 26, and Gordon in Goal.

The next day was a much shorter triangle task of 65 km. After last bomb out none of us went alternate, and Olav and I got off and got up after being down on the treetops again. I made a mistake and misread my Galileo in the startgate I read the time as 15:32, we were circling up at the edge of the start circle, and thought we better get going as the day is getting late. The original plan was to hang around and go with the main gaggle. What i had seen was the timer for the start gate, showing 0:32, as the start opened at 14:30. The main gaggle had just left at 15:00, but it was impossible to see them because of the smoke.

Olav and I flew together most of the course, I glided ahead near the second TP and got away, only to get stuck low just outside the city of Warangaratta for a long time. The rest of the gaggle caught up with me and I had to glide cross and back on the course land to join up in the lift they found. I lost nearly 30 minutes there. The rest of the flight was good, the gaggle stopped to turn just before the last PT, while I went for it directly as the others would mark the lift when I went back. I got a good climb, and started on the final glide with my Galielo showing 300 meters above best speed glide. The air was really good, and I could not get down fast enough in the rough air. I passed the goal line with at least 400 meters. Olav 6-7 minutes behind. Our time was a little too slow, wish I had waited for the 15:15 startgate.