Today’s weather forecast amounted to “like yesterday, only more so”. We were told to expect plenty of cumulus clouds, strong lift to good altitudes, then a chance of thunderstorms and rain. Short 2-hour tasks were again set.
The good lift took a while to materialize (first launch was delayed until 1:45 pm) but lived up to the forecast: plenty of cu covered much of the task area; thermal lift of 8 kts to over 8000’ was normal. Rain did indeed develop late in the afternoon, briefly soaking the airfield and creating concern for the late finishers. But all got home safely.
Sarah decided on a very late start, which – despite no big troubles with rain – proved not to be the best choice. Her speed of 98 kph would on many days be excellent in a Std Cirrus – but on this day 17 Club Class pilots were above 100 kph. She now stands in third place – Paula Drazul of Argentina had a very good flight, putting her in second; Ailsa McMillan of Australia has a solid grip on first. The top three places are now held by pilots from countries well outside Europe – it’s surely a long time since that was the case at any contest held in Europe.
The Baba Yaga ceremony went off as planned this evening. The format is curious and resembles nothing ever seen at a WGC to which male pilots are admitted. A large bonfire provided a focus of attention, as well as a way of roasting sausages (an activity chiefly valuable to keep superfluous male onlookers busy and out of the way).
Pilots who have previously attended a WWGC wear dark dresses (of which Sarah’s was easily the most elegant), witch hats and face paint, signifying their status as indoctrinated witches. One by one, women attending their first WGC are called to the presence of a “godmother” witch, who administers an oath of loyalty, typically in a language unfamiliar to the novice. The godmother then paints the lips of the novice with dark lipstick, and the novice “signs” the official Baba Yaga register book by kissing it. She then knocks back a glass of schnapps and godmother and novice gallop around the bonfire on a broom, to music. (No, I’m not making this up.)
When all novices had been inducted, the entire gaggle (coven?) of witches galloped around the fire, to the applause of all. The mood was intensified by a highly appropriate weather display: thunder, lightning and finally some intense rain just as the ceremony was complete.
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.