Friday, 11 January 2013

Thursday 10th January 2013: Where has my mojo gone?

Thursday 10th January 2013

Day 4 Task 3
Where's my mojo gone?

After a disappointing day when most the British Team felt that they had flown well but had not managed to "finish the job off", today was always going to be an important day in terms of fighting back. This was especially true for Carl who, compared to his superb track record of recording breaking flights and world class flying, had not had the best start to the competition. Talking to Carl yesterday evening and this morning it was obvious that sport psychology and mental preparation was going to have a part to play for him to to be able to answer the question "Where has my mojo gone?" We were soon going to find out....

The team gathered as usual at the HQ for the task briefing followed by a team chat to iron out some logistical issues, including Trudy organising a team dinner (again!) to which we would invite Davis Straub, the meet director. From the outset the team seemed fired up, wanting to prove that the first two days results did not a accurately reflect their level of flying. Especially Carl, who was taking control of his situation by wanting to have more autonomy to fly his own game (something which I fully endorsed) and to minimise radio communications to allow him to fully focus on his own decision making.

So off to the airfield to set up for the triangle flight from Forbes Airfield, south to Wirrinya (37.1km), south east to Grenfell (35.4km), then back up north west to Forbes (57.8km), a total of 130 kms. Carl was first in line on the Green launch having applied for the "early bird" window.

Focussed? Carl? You had better believe it. And with the rest of the team also showing great spirit I was getting an increasingly good feeling about the day. 

As soon as 1300 hours arrived Carl was up and away from Green launch in the hot and dusty conditions, while Grant, Gary, Gordon, Dave, Kath and Tony soon followed from the Red launch.

Gary Wirdnam

Grant Crossingham
Grant enjoying shade

Gary clips in 

Gary takes off

Gordon Rigg

Kathleen Rigg

Dave crosswind take off

Dave Matthews
Tony Stephens

Tony launches


Ben Philpott

The only drama we had at launch was Kath having to come back in to land to get her back up vario as her main instrument was playing up. As soon as she was back up again, Steve set off to chase the lead gaggle as the start time was nearing. The conditions looked much better today than the previous days as gliders were maintaining good height over the airfield and Team GB were already testing the air at the edge of the start circle. Being a triangle day, I was to stay nearer to the goal field to save driving unnecessarily.

To make sure any retrieves could be coordinated properly I drove back in to Forbes and then 25km towards the last turnpoint to give me radio reception for the entire flight. 
Getting back in range with the team, it was obvious that today was going to be a very quick day. I heard several messages that indicated that the team were skipping weak climbs, and gliding on to stronger cores, always communicating their positions to the rest of the team. Carl was of course a lot quieter on the radio, but even from his short transmissions, I knew that he, like the rest of the lead gaggle, was storming around the course. Could this be the turning point?

I soon heard that the last turn point at Grenfell,58 kms from goal, had been reached and knew that as soon as the team were 30km from goal I would have to speed back to Forbes airfield. That call came very quickly as both Carl and Grant in formed me that they were gliding on past the 35km to goal mark.

Racing back to the airfield the anticipation of what was unfolding was unbearable. Reaching the landing field (this time to the south of the airfield to give the waterbomber planes room to operate out of Forbes) there were already many team cars parked up and support crew staring towards the last turn point, hoping to glimpse their team flying in first.

Suddenly two lead gliders appeared through the heat haze, screaming in towards us followed by a swarm of a chasing pack. ANd who says that hang gliding is not a spectator sport - this was nail biting stuff? 

Was Carl there? Well, not first, but only a few seconds behind I recognised his black and grey under-surface swooping in to goal for 9th place! YES! YES! YES! Now that's what I am talking about! With my radio buzzing I was soon reporting that Grant (23rd) and Tony (31) had also made it in very quickly to make up a  "full house" for a team score, with Gary (38th), Dave (41st) and Gordon (42nd) also following in! Oh my goodness, what a day!

Carl arrives in goal
Goal-beers all round then! Wth Kath unfortunately getting downed at the second turnpoint, we had six gliders in goal, all with very respectable, if not excellent times. As a team we had jumped up two places to 5th, and individual scores were improving dramatically.

The atmosphere during the team dinner that evening was, as you can imagine, quite buoyant. Trudy had once again done us proud with a great meal where we entertained Meet Director Davis Straub as part of the initiative for competition organisers to get together with pilots to discuss how the comps should run. 

But of course, the big question had already been answered:
Where has my mojo gone? 
It hasn't gone anywhere!!! 
Go Team GB

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