A “lake Keepit Day” today – a term used by locals to describe a day with good lift under “honest” cumulus clouds, good visibility and no issues standing in the way of flying long tasks at good speeds. The early weather generated skepticism, with lots of mid-level cloud blocking the sun and keeping things cool until mid-morning. This might be an issue at many sites, but here, once clouds dissipate and the powerful southern sun can go to work, things start happening in a hurry. By noon we had hot temperatures (on their way to a daily high around 106 F), cumulus clouds sprouting, and general optimism among pilots.
On the sound basis that it’s better to have pilots out on task than in crowded skies near home waiting to start, tasks were decently long today. With a forecast (once again) for possible easterly winds late in the day, it was thought this would motivate everyone to get going as soon as tasks opened. It did for 18-Meter class (with a 562-km task) but both Club (407 km) and Standard (454 km) class pilots still chose to hang around for a good while. The idea behind this is of course both to wait for conditions to improve and to get some of your competitors out on course ahead of you, expecting that they will mark the location of thermals which will allow you to catch up to them. This leads to “start gate roulette”, a sort of “After you” – “No, I insist, after you” dance that can eat up a surprising amount of the soaring day.
In the event, the list did not die early, and all the later starters – even those who got slow in places – were able to finish. We’re all hoping this weather pattern persists.
In Club Class, both Kathy and Sylvia had their best-scoring flights of the contest thus far. For Sylvia, this included a late start due to a broken gear door spring that forced her to land for a quick fix, then re-launch. She started next to last and flew the flight alone, but read the clouds well and turned in a very respectable speed.
In Standard Class, the flight featured a group of pilots that started and went around the course generally together, now splitting into two or three groups, now congealing into a single large one. Sarah started slightly behind the main mass, caught them, traveled with them for much of the task, and finished in 4th place, with 968 points.
Here are a few of the differences visitors from the northern hemisphere notice about Australia:
- A driver enters his car on the right and drives on the left
- The sun is found in the northern sky, and moves from right to left during the day
- The north wind is the hot wind
- To turn a wall switch on, move the rocker downward
- Wall outlets are always switched
- The smallest bill is $5
- $1 coins are large (about like a thick quarter); $2 coins are small
- Carts in grocery stores have 4 castering wheels
- No free bags in grocery stores: bring your own or pay for them
- Wine is good, and fairly cheap; beer is expensive
- Flies dedicated to annoying you are numerous and persistent
- With the possible exception of very large cities (Sydney) people are uncommonly helpful and friendly