This article by David Meredith was first published in Gliding Australia Magazine.
Horsham Week. The annual migration of the Victorian Gliding herd up the western highway to one of the most pleasant gliding sites in Australia. Why pleasant? Well it is right next to a town with several gentrified pubs and cafes, all the shops you need for gliding and only 3.5 hours from home. Works for most of the herd. Tony Tabart also thought it unique in that every runway has a massive paddock at the end of it, making it very safe and simple. Tony does seem to like the place given he has been to all 49 Horsham Weeks, kind of a record feat by our reckoning. Horsham week is also uniquely Victorian, with very few pilots from the northern states participating. Being an ex-pat, I can’t help but marvel at how the tribes are kept apart by the Murray.
Sun 8 Feb. Nothing good again. Still no flying, bah.
Mon 9 Feb. First signs of a day with a start and also that our scorer had learnt the advanced features of SeeYou and was determined to try all shapes and geometries in the task sheet. So us old blokes grabbed our PDAs and stoically entered something like what we’d been dished up into our XCSoar or equivalent. Is it a cylinder, is it a keyhole, is it mad Polish fantasy? No Jarek Mosiejewski had given us wedges with circles, and that set the tone for the rest of the event. Anyway it was a tough blue day with almost everyone getting home with tales of horror and low saves. As the day got hotter, we got to about 4000’ above ground, however mostly we bounced between 1500 and 3000 above ground. Curiously it was Jarek Mosiejewski the task setter who won the day, always hard to beat the task setter, unless of course you were the scorer. Now that reminds me, Tim Shirley was weatherman and wife Joy the Scorer, so that Tim could get a score. (There is some much that can follow that statement, however I shall leave it to you). However, Joy had a dental drama, so she told Tim to score himself as she was unable to help. Tim therefore soldiered on, flew and attended to the howls and gnashings of day 1. One more anecdote for day 1. Max Hedt, local Sensei, guru and great one warned everyone of where not to tow. Wayne “gopher" Macley chose to roll the dice and found a substantial hole and his rainbow painted Jantar went up to its waste in runway. If he were flying a Libelle, we would have just filled the hole in over the glider – but Jantars are made of sterner stuff and 7 stout lads pulled it out.
Tues 10 Feb. Tomorrow will be better. Well it was, but only just. However today Jarek Mosiejewski was unusually lucid and gave us a speed task. So small beer cans, low heights, all blue…. Hello gaggles. And this is where those who stuck with the pack made better time. In fact, Alf “the leech" McMillan had a spectacular day in the company of the 3 leaders in his class. Winner today was the Beafort Twin Astir with Chris Thorpe making great use of the main club class gaggle and his better handicap. Second was our fearless task setter and his other partner in Finnish crime (ie Bernie Sizer, also in a PIK) came third. Hmmm, maybe the handicap committee should look at this result! Yes it was a tough day, and we all enjoyed Steve Jinks offering advice to his fellow competitors.
Wed 11 Feb. Kersplat. The combined skill and intellect of club class only enabled the Beufort Janus to slither home to get a speed score. Snake and Duncan managed to find that last climb in a rapidly cooling sky to flop in over the fence, whilst the tuggies started their engines to find the fallen. Many were only 20 to 30km from home, but had no hope. Dave Fynmore got a good solid score today – we expect more great things of this young president. The day had 3 parts to it, the grovel away from home, the 10,000’ under cu to the east at the trough line and the long slow glide back home to a paddock. Those who got the most points were the ones who made the most of the good conditions near Bendigo. Poor old 15m class however combined the first and last parts, with none of their class even finding a climb after they launched at the back of the grid. By this stage, Bruce Cowan had won the first day, outlanded the second day and now launched and return for the third day. It’s a fickle sport.
Wednesday though had a special treat. Morgan “I hate derigging" Sandercock gave us a presentation on the Perlan 2 project. This is a project that is designed to get a glider to 90000’. They had got to 50,000 in Perlan 1, and as 100,000’ is too hard, they have settled for 90,000 (as you do). Quite an amazing and audacious project with a number of scientific outcomes as well as some pretty cool stories. Google around for more details. Morgan, was also full of innovation today after outlanding 1 k short. Instead of a de rig or aerotow, he took the tips off the Duo and towed it along the road to the airport.
Thurs 12 Feb. Gridding practice. We are now gridding very well. Sadly though not flying.
Fri 13 Feb. Called off due to storms. Good day for cafes and chatting. Horsham gets over an inch of rain and locals need the bucket of dust dumped on them for revival.
Sat 14 Feb. Valentines Day. Finally a good day, well so we thought. It ended up going very late and after 3 hours on the grid, with a runway change, we headed off for 2 or 3 hour AAT tasks. It was a much more challenging day with the 9000’ climbs under cu being replaced with blue skies and scratchy climbs. Only a third of club class made it around, although most of the big wing boys got home. The flukey conditions meant a few big changes to the leader board – critical in racing class where 45 points separated the first 3 places.
Now some words about the wonderful team that managed and planned for the week. Hope everyone here is remembered. Firstly to Comp Director Ian Grant. His casual, no nonsense style got things going and stopping at the right time. Ably assisting him was the afore mentioned scorer come weather man Tim Shirley and task setter Jarek Mosiejewski with Rolf Beulter. We also had a variety of tug masters, too numerous to recall plus sage like safety advice from Mike Cleaver. The self help approach to this comp also meant everyone did a job or 2 to make for a safe and hassle free comp.
Next year is the 50th Horsham Week, half a century of the tribe migrating up the Western Highway. This is going to be a great event and everyone vaguely connected should make the effort. Block out the first week in Feb 2016. Get your loins girded and get to Horsham. It is mandatory attendance for the Victorian tribe and a brilliant opportunity for those from the north.
Horsham Week 2015 Results on Soaring Spot.