It looked today very much as if the Lake Keepit string of fine soaring conditions would be broken. We woke to a near-solid overcast to the east and overhead that during the morning thickened and further overran the airfield. Clear skies were evident to the southwest, but it seemed unlikely that gliders could launch and soar far enough from home to connect with consistent lift.
Nothing daunted, contest organizers set tasks and began the launch around 12:30. A few thin spots in the overcast allowed just enough sun to produce the heating necessary to keep gliders aloft. Improbably, they day saw no relights and the tasks (which took gliders into sunny areas) saw 100% completions.
It was a really good day for Sarah – her first day win. She started after most of the Club Class gliders, picked a good line to the first turn area, and managed to stay well connected to strong conditions throughout the flight. Her choice to make good distance to the southwest proved to be the right one – pilots who cut this area short had to be content with weaker conditions later in the flight. Finishing third, second and then first on the past three tasks is a notable result, especially in view of the quality of the field here.
Lake Keepit is very much in the countryside – shops and restaurants are not close by. To address this, the club has offered meals every evening, which have been extremely well received. We eat outdoors (evenings are always warm) with a pleasant view of the runway and its inevitable dozens of grazing kangaroos (who also find the Lake Keepit Soaring Club a pleasant choice for dinner).
I haven’t said much about birds here, of which Australia has an enormous variety. A full report just for this area would run to multiple pages, but I will note the Apostlebirds we see daily: they are notable for always operating in groups, traditionally of 12 birds (whence the name) but actually 5 to 20. Pilots have reported many sightings of Wedge-tailed Eagles (seemingly much the best soaring bird of this area) and a few have been visible from the ground. Sulphur-crested cockatoos are large elegant birds we see daily among the trees on our 10-minute drive to the airport. Mercifully, they are scarce around our cottage (their harsh cries grow tiresome rather quickly).
John Good has been a member of the US Team at many World Gliding Championship events, serving as crew, Team Captain and report author. He was the Deputy Championship Director/ Task-setter at the 2012 WGC in Uvalde, Texas and brings a wealth of international rules knowledge as Captain.