More good – really good – soaring weather, and some notable results to report. Today’s forecast was for something close to a trouble-free day, with plenty of cumulus clouds, good lift to good altitudes, and just a small chance of some issues with smoke. Except for the smoke (which was never a factor), the forecast was spot-on.
Club class was given a rather short 356-km task, and contrary to expectations did not wait until improbably late to set out on it. The result was much the best speeds of the contest in this class, with the winner – Jo Davis of Australia, a local expert – achieving almost 130 kph (a speed rarely seen anywhere in a Club Class glider). This was enough to devalue the day, giving just 900 points for first place instead of 1000. Kathy Fosha also had a great flight – easily the fastest of her contest – at 117 kph, good for 800 points and for 8th place.
In Standard class, Sarah played the start game well, managing to set off on her 508-km task at 2:22pm in the company of two French pilots (Aude Untersee and Aude Grangeray) who have here shown themselves to be formidable competition. (French Team Captain Eric Napoleon has over the past 25 years been easily the world’s most successful coach and developer of soaring talent – any pilot chosen to represent France at an international competition can be assumed to be uncommonly talented and dedicated). They flew together over most of the course, and late in the flight were able to gain significantly on the earlier starters. The final leg home was over high ground that on most days has had some of the best soaring conditions, as it did today. By passing up a strong climb in favor of the continuous lift these hills often produce, Sarah was able to finish ahead of her group and win the day, at a speed of 137 kph – a fine way to atone for the bad planning that proved costly yesterday.
Tonight’s big even was the “Babajaga” ceremony, where all WWGC pilots are made members of an international society of witches. Tradition dictates that an existing member (i.e. one who has been inducted at a previous WWGC event) act as “godmother” to a pilot flying in her first WWGC. An oath is administered (in the godmother’s native language), a drink is consumed, lipstick is applied to the novice who then kisses a registry book, and the godmother and inductee together ride a broom around a fire. In view of the total fire ban that now applies in much of Australia, a sprinkler was made to do duty instead, which seemed oddly apt. Ten new witches were made tonight, to the approval of all. (Men are allowed at this ceremony, provided they stay quiet and out of the way.) Afterwards, a some of the witches – and a few others – ended up in the nearby pool.
To close, I’ll note that the Koala that has lived in a single gum tree during this entire contest was this afternoon sleeping in the lowest fork of all, quite near the ground. I was able to reach up and pet him (very soft fur). This caused him to awake, and give me a look of mild surprise, as if he found my behavior rude but not deeply offensive. I did note that he later made his way to a much higher branch, probably not wishing to encourage more such forwardness from strangers.