Day 1, just under a 300km day up to Tirau down to the lakes at Mt Ruapahu, then Mokai and home. A good quick start at the beginning up to the Waikato. Missed two thermals and was going to landout at my favourite airfield Tokoroa when I got away again. All good from then on until we went down the western side of lake Taupo, which for various reasons I haven't been before. Didn't realise but I was in front at this stage. Five of us did the bottom turn together. I headed back into the hills where there was clear cloud streets following the ridges. Most of the others flew along the lake edge and beat me home. Third on the day. Maurice.
Day 2, unfortunately badly under called. You can't complete an AAT task under a set time other wise you are penalised. First leg was up to Kawerau where I'd been last week. 20km circle. The sky had great looking Cu and they all seemed to have 6 to 8 kts connected to them. A quick run north at 6,500ft mostly, but I didn't want to push into the seabreeze with unlandable terrain underneath, so turned a bit short ( my mistake for the day). back to taupo and then over to Bennydale. This time I went close to the back of the circle but in the end I could have finished half an hour early, which counts for nothing. If you finish under time your speed is worked out on the distance you covered divided by the minimum set time ( in this case 3 hours). Most finished under time. Fifth today, should have pushed further north, but what a day. Strongest thermal must have been about 8kts and flew most of the course at 6,000ft above. Maurice.
Day 3, Well a very frustrating day for me and it will take some doing coming back from here but I'll be trying. Four of us landed back and didn't start and after i had landed, three more picked up a thermal on downwind, so it was potentially a nil day. The sky was completely blue and the wind 15 to 20 kts off the lake. Tim Bromhead re-launched and I really should have gone as well. All I could see was three pilots thermalling in the one thermal for about twenty minutes. It was a 300 km day to Thames and return. The trick was getting to the ridge and getting back from the ridge. It was amazing at almost 6 o'clock that Steve Wallace called final for 22. The only one to get home for the day. Tony van dyke with water, and not in the contest, landed out in Atiamuri as did most of the others, but an outstanding performance by Steve to make it home in such strong winds with no water. Maurice
Day 4 so far we have been to a different place each day. starting was another problem again today with many landbacks. fortunately not me because i immediately went for the western side of the river. i thought i had a great day but others had better. today it was all about when you connected with the convergence running down the Ureweras. once in it you could climb to 7,000 ft and fly at 80 kts to stay below cloud. the only problem was if you didn't connect with it you were over unlandable forest and hills. we went up to Kawerau then down to the napier road then home. sorry i'm only typing with one finger in my tent, its hard to read the keyboard in the dark. a fantastic contest so far. tomorrow is meant to be a cracker, top speed today around the course was an average of 106 kmh. my speed was only 93. Maurice
Day 5 A tricky day with conditions changing from the interpretations of RASP. Try setting a task yourself at the beginning of the day and see how hard it is. First we were going left and then right which turned out right after all.
We pretty much did the task of the other day when we went up to Kawerau and down the bottom of the eastern side of the lake except further into the hills, east and past Rangitaiki. I started first because cloudbase had jumped up to 6,500 ft and the day was late anyway. I had a good run up the first leg somewhere between 105 and 110 kmh. I think I did turn in the circle a little early as halfway down my second leg I was looking to finish too early. I now needed to push well into the bottom turn point not to finish early. The turn point was in the hills so I pushed passed this point and further south, staying as high as possible. I turned and the sky looked better out in the paddocks instead of the hills and on track. There is a swampy area just east of Rangitaiki airfield on the Napier Taupo road.
I flew towards the swampy ground with a huge black cloud over it and didn't connect with anything, so quickly continued on. I continued under some cloud that others were high in but never quite connected, always moving forward. I was starting to fall down a hole. I was getting low. 3,500 ft is good in Tauranga but ground level here is about 2,200ft. I tried some local trigger points but to no avail, these are little uncultivated hills that normally trigger local thermals. Still getting lower. The area around the Taupo Napier highway is extensively farmed so I had many options but I wanted the best one and found it, flat, wide no trees or wires close to a farm house and long and into wind. That spotted I flew near it trying to find any lift. I got a small 1 kt climb but only about 200ft. And then I had a brainwave. I was about 500 metres from the forest and I had read somewhere that downwind of a forested area that is cleared or cultivated is a good trigger source, so at 1,000 ft AGL I decided to fly over the forest. Quite safe as I could get to my paddock easily. Again I got a small climb and pushed further into the forest into wind. It was clearly more buoyant than the farmland at his time of day. i was getting away from my paddock so turned downwind over the cleared forest area again basically in the circuit about 700ft AGL, when bang, 4 kts on the see you averager (which measures the climb rate of your entire climb not 20 seconds, not instantaneous). I climbed to almost 6,000ft in seven minutes in that thermal and was on final glide. Just because I thermalled in the circuit it doesn't mean you should consider it, after ten years of flying its OK.
I lost valuable minutes in that hole but I loved the recovery. fifth or sixth on the day.Maurice
Day 6 It's ground hog day. The day started like many others. however this time I had a low low, almost landout before the start and then a near miss with a tow plane after he and the glider on tow wanted to join my thermal.
Great first run up the valley to a turnpoint in the middle of the forest past Goudies ( towards Whakatane). i didn't turn for the first 30 kms I think. On the way out of the forest I connected with a strong thermal and the first two place getters went passed me about 4 kms to the right of track. So i was off after then at 80 kts. We exchanged positons over the next 40 kms but I started to gain height on them both until I left them behind. This was looking like a great day. I had two options after Mangakino Dam. Slightly south over a very dark street over titiraupunga or another further north. I choose the south route and unfortunately the ground must have been in shadow for too long and down I started to come, just as the ground started to rise. I flew on to Purerua near Bennydale and just got lower and lower. Finally i had out at the strip at the turnpoint. Bummer. Then the fun began. The strip appeared to have a power line over it so I only used the western half in which to land. This meant I missed the crater in the middle of the runway as well. I called for a tug retrieve and waited.
The main road to Te Kuiti was next to the strip and a Korean couple pulled up and seemed to be having car problems. I went over to offer my vast mechanic experience, when suddenly the tug turned up. I can't give much detail but there was a very heavy landing and the undercarriage of the tug partially collapsed. Tug US. So road retrieve organised. To kill time we started pulling the car apart or take the front wheel off. There was a loud screeching when the car moved. To ring Hertz the rental car company I had to walk up a big hill to get reception. I did that five times in the end. In the end we found a small stone in the disc brake pad, and the Korean couple were off. Their English was good but they presented us both with fans before they left and took photos of every thing. The glider, the tug, us taking the wheel off, us walking up the hill etc etc. Any way not a good day points wise. I was meant to be at the committee meeting and I had a meeting organised for an inspection of a house. I didn't make either. In fact I changed the meeting to next morning and after the retrieve drove home to Tauranga. Halfway home the meeting the next morning was cancelled. What a day.
Day 7 Drove down this morning. Mad scramble to get ready in time. The conditions were blue with the odd small cloud, but only one or two. I got a thermal just off tow and climbed to 6,500 ft. I was 13 kms from the start line and had to best Ld to there and then slowly moved up the valley taking blue climbs where I could. Very slow first leg and just clipped the first circle near Reporoa. I headed south sorry west (I really had no idea as I just grabbed the task and was flying point to point.) Second turn point was near Mangakino and the sky was getting better and cloudier. I started to go faster and moved north over the forest towards Wharepapa south. I didn't get far before I had to retreat to get a climb and this time I took it to cloud base. I had a very fast run after that and picked up Steve Wallace. We pretty much stayed together for the rest of the race and he got home 3 minutes ahead of me. I don't know whether I came first second or third but I had a small probelm with airspace so I will find out tomorrow.