Today started off so well. Launched off the uncrowded east launch while the hordes pushed and shoved in line on the west launch, straight to base. We had about 45 minutes before the start opened, so I did some long glides out away from a perfect cloud--fixed my speed system, did some high-altitude irrigating, ate a granola bar, then back into launch, back to base, brilliant. Had an OK start with the other 100+ pilots, then did a very silent glide into the first turnpoint--little bumps of lift, but that kind of air normally means dirt pretty quick. But put 100+ pilots into a small area and something is bound to be found, and was--a thermal so weak any self-respecting hawk would have left it, but I had the Vegemite incentive (see last post) so I stuck my glider into the seething madness and turned with the worst of them. There were multiple mid-air bumps, at least two full-on mid-air collissions, cursing in at least five different languages, road rage and lots of spins from trying to work the light lift. I was INTO it--fully prepared to mid-air rather than leave the "lift." It was stupid beyond any reasonable definition of the word, but I was in the air. I watched gliders lawn-dart all around me with the thought, "Vegemites!"
Four hours later I lost it, left the gaggle and landed along with about 50 more pilots over time at the 40K mark. My helmet liner was soaked, my hydration hose empty and my mind cooked. I'm eating Vegemite for breakfast, can't wait. Nobody from North America played the conditions all that well, Nicole, Tom and Keith were in the same field about 45 minutes after me, which was an exceptional act of mental toughness to stay in the air so long. A few pilots who really, really wanted it were seen on glide toward goal, I'll bet about 10 made it in. These pilots deserve full aerial honours for the day, amazing mental tenacity.
Tomorrow I'm going to launch wearing only a thong and a pair of cut-off speed sleeves, it must have been 30 (90 American) at base today, I have never sweated so much in flight.
Vegemite for Brekkie, yeah!
The real probem is the wet ground--the field I landed in was mostly mud. Today should have been good for drying things out...