Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Orange Week Day 1 – Winner’s recollections

Day 1(Monday 2nd January), Winner – Craig Vinall, AS G29E

The weather forecast was for a strong day over the western ranges. It looked like a classic trough day and sure enough the cu’s stated popping around noon.

My plan was to fly to the clouds just north of the airspace step at Eudunda (12500ft) and then fly north along the trough line as far as possible before turning south again along the trough line.

The clouds were extending out towards Waikerie with cloud base at approximately 10,000ft. But it was difficult to get a strong climb all the way to cloud base, so I approached my first turn at Eudunda at about 7000ft. It wasn’t until just short of Burra that I eventually got a strong consistent climb that took me all the way to cloud base which was now at 12,000ft.

I had picked a track that was on the eastern edge of the line of cloud in the trough which was heading in a north-westerly track.

It was great flying north and then again south; very little turning and maintaining a height band of between 10,000 and 13,000ft. I made my northern turn at Wilmington, the furthest north I’ve ever been. I had to turn there anyway as I was about to fly of the edge of my map!

The wind had been north-westerly, so I was now flying down wind. It was quick and I averaged 169kph for this leg even though the thermal strengths were in the range of 5-6kt average.

I tracked again over Burra and deviated slightly to avoid the airspace step then tracked for Lameroo. 30km short of Lameroo, the clouds were not providing any lift. A large area of ground was in shadow, so I turned towards Peebinga into some sunshine. The conditions were weakening so I decided to dump my water. I got to the edge of the cloud where the sun was still hitting the ground, but the air was very rough with broken thermals. I was 4000ft below final glide and 120km from Waikerie, so I decided to take a weak thermal to final glide height and then head off. But the conditions back to Waikerie were very buoyant. I suspect that it was the expected southerly change and that was responsible for the turbulent conditions I had experienced.

I was able to fly back to Waikerie at speed and landed only 25 mins prior to the competition cut-off time of 8pm. I landed into the east with light winds, but as I was towing the glider back to the hangar, the southerly wind change hit the airfield. It was very gusty so I suspect my flight back was on a sea breeze front.

Flight distance was 790km at a speed of 131kph (per OLC-Plus), the longest (undeclared) flight I have done to date.

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