The first day set the trend in being hot, very hot! Even at 8:30 in the morning I was sweating away setting up the glider on launch at Mystic. My first time there but it's a good launch spot with lots of room to set-up. The landing field is a few k's away just obscured by a ridge line to the right. There are times I wish I wasn't called A Bannister because it means I'm usually the first on anyone’s alphabetical list. It actually turned out to be my best landing in the spot comp, only one other hangie with a better score - what's all this fuss about... Andrew wasn't flying in the spot comp but he had a flight the day before and managed to bend an upright so I was a bit weary. A couple of hours later I was back on launch for the briefing by Competition Director Heather Mull. Pretty much as soon as she finished the Para gliders were off followed by Ollie and some of the other top pilots Hmmm maybe they know something. Well immediately the wind picked up quite a bit, enough to keep me and my Sonic firmly on the ground for a couple of hours. Fortunately the launch window was open until 5pm so when I eventually launched at about 3pm it was a bit turbulent but manageable. It was a reasonable flight; most of it was spent following the ridge line behind Mystic. A couple of good thermals taking me up to the inversion at about 5000ft and a lowish save before to my shame I broke off and landed because I thought I was going to throw up in my helmet. Maybe we coastal pilots aren't used to going round and round in circles. Anyway having to swoop underneath some bloody power lines that they had put crossing diagonally on my chosen landing strip scared me so much I totally forgot about being sick. Scott Barrett won the day with a great flight of 108.9km and our own Tim Hewatt was the top Para with 28.43km.
Day two, my god it's actually hotter than yesterday! Grown men were walking around with parasols, touching anything metal was like picking up a soldering iron and group of salvos pretended to browse for their favourite beer in the cold room of the local bottle shop. The 'real' men were of course out there on launch setting up their gliders in front of a line of sniggering Para gliders. Second spot landing and I was bang on the bull's eye only to be told by Carol and Corinna who were scoring I had dropped my frame on the ground after landing and so it didn't count - bugger! Back up the hill for the XC task as they wanted to open the task window early. However this time it never blew up as much as the day before. I launched at around 2pm and immediately got a good thermal that took me up to around 5000ft. I thought I had plenty of height to cross the valley so I headed out only to be caught in some big sink. I could have made it across but decided it wasn't worth it and turned back to look for another good thermal. Unfortunately I didn't really get anything decent after that and after drifting downwind for a while decided to land at one of the last decent looking spots down the valley. Andrew had taken off before me and with his C4 had punched upwind towards Buffalo before eventually landing at the airstrip down the road in Porepunkah, his best flight only marred by another bent down tube - expensive sport at this rate. That night we decided to take the wheels of my glider and put them on his only to be stopped because they wouldn't fit. A lucky break for me as it turned out. New years eve was the start of the great Bright 'Ice famine' no one had any ice anywhere. Now I don't want to sound like a smart-ass but aren't ice sales seasonal? like there's probably not a huge demand for it in the middle of winter when their freezers are full of the stuff because it's minus 5c outside anyway; you can make your own. Come summer when it's 43c in the shade you could make a decent profit selling ice instead of pointing to your empty freezer and saying you might have some in a week or two. Ollie Barthelmes won the day with an 82.27km FIA triangle and Garrett Verway was the best paraglider with 46.68km closely followed by a Mr Ky Wittich.
Day three and I'd had about four hours sleep before dragging myself out of bed to join the rest of the weary looking pilots for a briefing. It was looking doubtful for the XC task because it was cloudy and the forecast was for stronger winds but they decided to go ahead with the spot task if the pilot wanted to. It was probably too late to go back to bed and I was keen to make up for the 'injustice' of the day before so I decided to go. Not my best decision, I came in a bit too fast and as the spot approached I thought "big flare" followed by "oh-shit" as I sailed into the air; too late now to change my mind, as I landed I stumbled over forwards and onto --- my wheels! ahh lovely black plastic disks of joy. Unfortunately the extreme heat of the previous days had persuaded me to wear shorts and I was losing much skin off my knees. I padded back to the pack-up area where no-one made eye contact with me. Like a Norwegian entry in Eurovision - Nil points. Little did I know that the worst was to come when Andrew kindly sprayed my exposed wounds with plastic skin. People in Melbourne rang into talk back radio to complain about the profanity. No body needed their arms twisting to cancel the XC task so we took the rest of the day off to go and sleep-off hangovers. Andrew took myself, Chan and his girlfriend up to Mt Buffalo to take a look at the HG launch at the top. Pretty impressive, but why is it most hangliding pilots are scared of heights....
The last day of the comp looked like being the best weather. Only 30 odd degrees predicted and a few fluffy white clouds around. My spot landing was quite a bit short of the target but at least the actual landing was good this time. We headed back to the launch and waited for some signs of decent thermals I was quite keen to get off early as it looked like becoming much rougher later. This was probably a good idea but I managed to stuff it up. Never getting properly going from launch and then chasing lost causes. Everyone else was going up and I was on the ground 15 mins later. I was bitterly disapointed but when I saw some of the landings later on I was almost glad I wasn't in the air. Probably the worst was our new friend Chan who approached too slow over the trees at the back of the paddock and stalled it before hitting the ground hard. We all ran over fearing he was badly hurt but were releaved to find he was basically okay, just snapping an upright on his glider. Ollie won the day again with a great flight of 109.1km. Our team mate Trent also had a great flight of 77.29km. David Russell was the top paraglider with 40.4km. That night we had an end-of-comp party at the local hall where Carol and Heather handed out the awards. Phil Schroder won the HG spot landing (I came sixth) Brian Webb won the PG spot landing. Ollie Barthelmes won the HG XC comp (I came 13th) and Garrett Verway won the PG XC comp.
I'd just like to add a big thanks to Carol and Heather for organising and running the comp and 'well done' to the sponsors of the event. I think the format has a real future for those pilots who may not feel like competing in one of the rated events. Also a big thanks to Trent and Deb for the retrieves and to Andrew for always lending a hand and taking some of the photo's. You can see the official results here. I've also put a few pics into the gallery and you can see the full set on the flickr site here. Andrew has posted the ones he took here.