Report for 4 Jan 2020 – by John Good
A good day to start our competition – which is to say frightfully hot (around 106 F) and mostly blue. But what would be seriously troublesome elsewhere, here produced good lift to as much as 12,000’, excellent speeds, and a first-rate competition day. Helping things was a near absence of smoke – fires to the south are sending smoke north, but so far northwesterly winds are holding this at bay well east of Lake Keepit.
In Club Class, Sylvia and Kathy had decent results on their 412-km task, hurt by a few “stumbles”, that included getting low well south of home. (6000 feet is not low in any absolute sense here, but when over hills that rise to near 4000 and while some of your competitors are disporting themselves at twice your height nearby, it feels low).
Sarah had what has to be called a sparkling flight in Standard Class. She was last to start and fifth to finish, with a time on course ranging from 14 to 40 minutes better than her competitors. Her speed over the 460-km course was 138 kph, which would have been a commendable result in 18-Meter class (whose winner managed 145 kph).
It’s interesting to note a small controversy concerning the name of our competition: is it WWGC-2019, or WWGC-2020? The latter makes complete sense, as all the official competition flights take place in the new year. But women’s world championships are assigned to odd-numbered years (the previous one was in 2017), and here at Lake Keepit one official practice flight took place in 2019 (on New Year’s Eve). So properly speaking this is WWGC-2019.
We’ve made some interesting animal sightings in our time here. Visitors to Australia eagerly look for kangaroos – and unfortunately most often first spot them dead by the side of the road (they have conspicuously poor traffic sense). Here at Lake Keepit, we see dozens of live ones on a slow day. They have little fear of humans, and clearly admire the human habit of growing lawns and watering these in dry times. They are a problem on the airfield late in the day, as they tend to congregate at about the time gliders are returning to land. Indeed, an important gliding club duty is to be the one designated to ride a 4-wheeler and chase the kangaroos away, so landings are safe – a sort of “kangaroo wrangler”. Other than this, these curious creatures are inoffensive and well tolerated.
Koalas are another Australian specialty, but genuinely hard to see. Unlike kangaroos, they are not gregarious and indeed would prefer not to be seen by humans. We’re lucky that one has taken up residence in a large gum (aka eucalyptus) tree at the “Sport and Rec” center (where some teams are residing during our contest). Everyone who cares to has had good looks at him – he’s said to be a large male. As is apparently normal, he spends much of each day sleeping. If you’re lucky, you can spot him climbing, on his way to munch on some choice gum leaves. Though undeniably cute, we’ve been told never to try to touch koalas – they have a bad disposition and very sharp claws.
Melanie is strictly ground crew (N1K), but is an avid lover of the sport. She is the ussoaringteams.org web master and loves new ideas so feel free to ask questions, offer suggestions, and give her additional content!