So my trip was always just a bit in question because I was flying on an airline employee voucher thanks to Joe Bostik. I checked in with my glider and held my breath as they called one supervisor after another. Finally Mike from Delta’s baggage came up and personally approved my glider and now it was just a matter of getting a seat for me. I had a couple margaritas to ease the tension and dull the possible agony if I didn’t get on. As they were boarding the plane I was given a seat assignment and let out a sigh of relief.
As I got off the plane a had a new concern; getting a ride from the airport. A pleasant surprise was getting to bypass the long customs line because of the size of my glider. As I weaved through the crowd and out the front door, I was stoked to see Jeff Shapiro off to my right. Jeff told me that James Stinnett was on his was to pick us up; it was the morning of new years eve.
James arrived in a flash green Comador wagon, we loaded up and headed off to meet up with Jamie Shelden, Karl Wallbank and Dave Shields. Jamie took us to a great restaurant at Coogee beach, and we followed it a dip in the Tasman Sea.
After a quick disco-nap we got ready for dinner that Cathrine had arranged and we met her and Gerolf. Lovely 4 course dinner, outside on the sidewalk, with fireworks to boot. We finished shorlty before midnight and tried to race up Brondi Beach to meet up with Jonny Durrand and his entourage. Well the cabbies wouldn’t take us all the way and we walked to where we could see the Harbor Bridge fireworks as the year 2010 fell upon us. Happy New Year everyone! We finally caught up with our friends and we partied well into the morning hours.
Day one: Totally blue. 138k? dogleg. I’m very turned around in the start circle (give me a mountain for reference!). Conditions are light and some people leave at the first clock. Most go back for the second clock and a group of us get low with about 8 pilots landing at the edge of the cylinder, but most pilots get on course. After grovelling back up for 20 min we’re still only 2k outside the cylinder so about 10 of us get the 3rd clock. I didn’t find out till later that I made most of the run to the first turn point with Blay from Spain. We are topping out about 4000′, so not a lot of altitude to work with. I caught up with the leaders a bit after the turn point, but pushing too hard I found myself down below 300′ (it would be so painful to land here after so much hard work), but I found a bubble and started to dig out. Somehow I made up the little bit of time I lost here and finished just behind the first guys. Having started 20 minutes later I won the day, my first day win in a major international competition.
Day two: Very different. A sky full of beautiful cumulus. 194K dogleg in the opposite direction (SW-S) This time we’re at 6000’at cloudbase for the first start clock. Having thermal markers out from worked so well yesterday, that we Shapiro wasn’t ready to leave, I was happy to wait. Davis started anyway because a bunch of people left, and Larry Bunner waited with me. We left at the second clock and the race was on. It wasn’t long before I started finding 700-900fpm. After the turnpoint the conditions got faster. Cloudbase had risen to over 8000′ and it was a glorious day! I watched the kilometers click away. Getting a bit low over a town I saw a cemetery and gave thanks to those who came before the splendorous life us hang glider pilots enjoy. At about 35K out I saw Karl, Jonny, and Attila and figured I was probably in good shape. A couple short climbs together and we started our final glide about 20k from goal. For the last few Kilometers my GPS was not getting coverage more than it was (mabey because Atilla was blocking all the satellites)(Carl was having the same issue), we were racing down to the deck and I wasn’t sure I would make the edge of the cylinder, I tried to have a look and cause a wiggle that allowed Jonny to snake by me to win the day about 1-2 seconds. (My GPS didn’t indicate goal until I was flaring, and the score keeper said my time was 58 sec after Jonny, hopefully they can sort it out.) I haven’t seen results yet, but probably 2nd for the day.
Thanks to everyone who’s making this dream a reality.