Jenny Ganderton Club Class Australia on the flight line
It was another great soaring day at Lake Keepit. After oversetting the tasks on 10 January and hitting the sweet spot yesterday, the weather today exceeded expectations and all tasks were completed with fast times.
The wind had turned southerly with an easterly influence, bringing in moister sea air. But no matter – after a slow start, the day was a boomer. Contestants who held back and started later made the correct choice and benefited with faster times, especially in Standard Class.
Racing tasks were set in all classes. In 18m, 501.50km was set with the first leg to the east of Mt Kaputar then west, then back to Keepit on the west of Kaputar.
In many other championships, a 500km task would be considered a reasonable or even long task. I remember at WGC Benalla, Sebastian Kawa cautioned at the beginning of the Championships against setting too many long 500km days. But as we know, the weather did not cooperate and by the end the contestants were longing for a good fast 500km task. Today, 600km would not have been unreasonable at all.
Petra Pískatá Czech Republic ready to launch
Ailsa McMillan was no doubt very happy with the assigned task as she once again blitzed it, winning the day with a speed of 156.6 kph. She was followed by the French pair Anne Decarouge and Melanie Gadoulet at less than1 kph slower. This gave them a score of 996 and 994, four points respectively compared to Ailsa’s 1,000 points.
So, with one to three days of the competition left with the promise, hope, prayer of rain in the area at least on the final day, Ailsa is 262 points off the lead in 4th position overall. Liz Sparrow is in 3rd place, 187 points off the lead, which means the French team would now have to lose the competition, rather than win it. They are obviously performing at the top of their game. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen who will be on the podium at the Closing Ceremony on Saturday.
In Standard Class, American Sarah Arnold kept up her strong and consistent performance to win the day, taking 1,000 points and flying the 508.18km task at 136.82 kph. The day’s winners in this class cannily understood that the distance to fly was not large given the good and building soaring conditions. They left nearly 30 minutes after almost all the others in of their class but, as the conditions were better, flew the distance 5, 10 or 15 kph faster than their rivals.
Ayala Truelove, Great Britain, pulled up three places on yesterday to finish in 2nd position at 136.26 kph, and defending World Champion Aude Grangeray came in 3rd at 134.49 kph.
The Australians misjudged the day, to their cost. After a stellar performance yesterday Lisa Trotter completed the distance at 125.14 kph to finish in 9th place on the day. Teammate Claire Scutter finished in 12th while fellow Australian Cath Conway finished 10th.
The top two positions overall in Standard Class remain unchanged with Sarah Arnold 1st and Aude Grangeray No 2. Ayala Truelove pulled up three places back up to third position. Pole Anna Piotrowska is in 4th place followed by Lisa Trotter who dropped back three spots and is now in 5th place overall.
As in 18m Class, Sarah Arnold is a strong 196 points ahead of her nearest rival and now only needs to perform well on the final few days to claim the world crown.
In Club Class Australian Jo Davis once again dominated the field flying the 356.3km task at a speed of 129.56 kph. As Céline Rault told me, ‘Jo does not make any mistakes, and she is fast.’
Still, Jo could maybe have taken more than her 900 points if she and the rest of the fleet had slowed down today. She completed the 3 hour task in 2h 45 minutes. In fact the top eight place getters finished in under the allotted 3 hour task time. This means that only 900 points instead of 1,000 can be awarded for the day. Nevertheless, Jo with her additional 900 points is 162 points ahead of Céline Rault overall. This makes her job for the rest of the contest a matter of holding on to her top slot rather than to take bold moves to try and win the remaining race days.
Amélie Audier from France had her best performance of the contest, finishing in 2nd place with a speed of 124.01 kph. Italian Elena Fergnani again performed well coming in 3rd at a speed of 126.56 kph.
Overall, in Club Class Jo Davis is in the lead, followed by Céline Rault ahead of German Christine Grote in 3rd place.
The Aussie Witches
In the early days of the Women’s WGC, a sorority was formed, the members of which are given the honorary title of Witch in English, Hexe in German, Sorcière in French and a variety of other names along the same lines in the languages of the other competing nations. Don’t worry, they all take an oath to be ‘good witches’ and tonight it was our honour to witness the induction of eight new Hexe into the sisterhood.
Replete in witch’s garb – including pointy hats, capes, an assortment of esoteric (Halloween) costumes and, of course, witches brooms – the contestants who had previously flown in WWGC events and the eight new inductees gathered at the Lake Keepit Sports & Rec swimming pool.
I am not allowed to divulge too many details, except to say that the new members had to swear to adhere to a code of ethics that include being fair, honest, to look after their crews and not dump water ballast on fellow contestants in gaggles.
At other WWGCs, the inductees fly around a big open fire on their broomsticks. But, as a total fire ban is in place in NSW due to the ongoing bushfire state of emergency, they instead performed a quintessentially Australian rite of passage that every three-year-old Aussie has enjoyed since hoses were invented. They ran through the sprinklers.
Then they jumped into the swimming pool followed by all the Queenslanders (naturally). What happened after that I cannot say as I dutifully rushed back to my room to write this and spread the news to the rest of the worldwide gliding community.
Tomorrow is another day, and hopefully a great soaring day at WWGC Lake Keepit.