We got a 167 km dogleg task to the east and then north to Wellington. The forecast was for similar conditions as day 8, with base at 3000 and good thermal, not much wind. I took the last tow again as it was just too hot to wait in line, Bobby came over and towed me up with his camera helmet on, and joined us in the thermal. He looks like a mad scientist from a movie with the hair blowing in the wind and intent look on his face while flying.
Forbes seen from over the airport in the startgate;
The first thermal was weak, so I left at 1200 meters gliding towards the main gaggle at the edge of the start circle, Zac came with me, and we soon found 3 m/s thermal just as the last start gate clock ticked over. We stayed for a few more turns, and got a very good start a few minutes after the main gaggle. I wanted to go over the hills, as the next glide was through the blue, and I got a good line heading for a hill with a nice cloud over it just before the turnpoint. Conrad came in under me, and we found a excellent 6 m/s thermal, smooth and strong. We got to cloudbase and joined the lead gaggle going on glide the 3 km to the TP, and then headed north towards goal.
After the next thermal we were getting out of the hilly terrain, as the courseline took us over flatlands towards goal, there was not a single cloud over the flats, and the inversion was thick as soup at 1800 meters. There were some hills to the left, about 15 km off track. Conrad, Jürg, Carl and me were thinking the same, and the four of us went 90 degrees off course staying under clouds and staying over the hills. We could see the leading gaggle gliding into the blue and not getting up, pilot after pilot landing. If we could get up to cloudbase at the end of the hills it would be a nice crosswind final to goal.
We spread out and went seaching for the thermals, but despite nice clouds, hills, and good signs of lif we just could not find it. Carl and I went over every small hill, treeline, and any trigger we could see, but finally had to realize we had lost and glided towards the only farm we could see. We had not seen a tarmac road in ages, and we were in the middle of nowhere, low and with no lift to get up. We both landed close to the farm house, and Jürg came after us landing next to me. Conrad had gone more to the left into the hills, but only got one km further.
On any other day our plan would have worked out, I think we must have just missed the lift due to the wind shifting to north, and not south as predicted. The guys who went out on the flats struggled and could not find much either. Zac made it to 2-3 km before goal.
After a long walk out we got a lift with Jamie who came looking for Carl, she drove us 25 km out to the main road, that would have been a long walk…
At briefing day 10 we were forecasted another strong day, but with a front system closing in on us in the afternoon. The last few days the pilots have been looking like zombies coming to briefing, everyone is really tired from long hard days. Davis suggested that we did not fly for safety reasons, it would be a rough day towing and landing, with so many tired pilots it would be a safety concern. The vote was split even, and the safety committee decided to cancel the day.
In retrospect that was a good choice, it’s just too warm to stay out there, and conditions were indeed rough. We soon hit 40 degrees;
I went out to the airport and borrowed one of the tugs from Bill Moyes to take a flight and just feel the air out if Olav and Lars wanted to freefly. It was windy and very strong conditions, probably good for a downwind task if the pilots were more rested. After I landed with the tug I parked it in the hangar, that was fortunate since a dustdevil came through the tugs that were parked outside, ripped the tiedown ropes straight off one, and totalled the tug. All in all it was a OK day to rest and stay in the pool.
Evgeniya the Russian girl was very lucky, she was packing up her glider when the dustdevil came trough, for some reason it did not get hold of her glider and it was not trashed like the tug just 10 meters away.
Tonight we have the presentation dinner, and tomorrow we drive to Sydney to have some time at the beach relaxing and letting the body get some rest from flying hanggliders. Olav will fly back home the day after tomorrow, and we will go on to the Bogong Cup.
I will get 15. place overall, not too bad, there are lots of good pilots here, and I’ve not been flying much at all since I was here last year so I think I did better than I had hoped. I made one really bad day on task 7, that kicked me out of the top 10, but I felt I was getting back into competition shape in the end. I think I’ve flown around 40 hours already, and we have had 10 days ranging from good to excellent, so it’s been a success flying wise.
Outside the flying the Forbes competition seem to have lost much of the social aspects, we did not have any BBQ or arrangements where the pilots get together. Also the organization at the airfield have not worked anywhere near as good as the first few comps here, I think the organization needs an overhaul and to get more people in to help out.