Louis must have finished his Christmas shopping early, because about mid-December he had some spare time, decided there was a gap to be filled in the holiday calendar, and a Southern Regional comp was just the thing to fill it. 

It kicked off with a barbie at Tim & Chrissy Brown’s place and a plan to meet at the Kai the next morning to attempt a task, even though it looked marginal.

At this stage, I was still in Auckland trying to decide whether the weather looked better on the North or South Island. The words of an old paragliding sage were ringing through my head “Wanaka… beautiful glaciers, drinkable rivers, and easy hitching back to waterfront cafes. Oh, and there's nice people to talk to”. Also Metvuw promised a few days with light winds down south, so we booked, but planned to miss the first task.

It turns out that ‘marginal’ day was actually a banger, with a successful task from Treble Cone to Arrowtown. It was a good challenge for everyone to get to know their instruments, with Pub Corner as a waypoint four times – Launch, Start, Exit cylinder at 8km, then entry at 400m, and another waypoint at Bryan’s Knob, for a total task distance of 61.1km.

Two pilots made goal – Middy, followed by Michal Karnik, with a handful of others just short. It was reported to be quite an active day in the sky, with full attention required to keep your wing open.

David Cleary in wonky air. But he got the shot!
Lead Out Points were being trialled for the first time at a competition in NZ, and in preparation for the PG Open in February. Louis was the pilot most rewarded for leading out on that first task. Perhaps he was training for Task 2…(better read on, guys, this is foreshadowing).

The forecast for the second day of the comp was like none I’ve ever seen. It promised everyone was going to go far.

We headed to TC, and the task was set around the corner to Raspberry Flat, then back past Pub Corner and over to Morven Hills – 65km. It seemed a little scratchy to start, but everyone was staying up, so time to get in the air. A waypoint was put on WK018 GLENFINANFD so there was no cutting corners. This caught out a couple of pilots who went for a shortcut through the hills, missing the waypoint. There's a lesson to learn there, lads.

The forecast that had promised everyone was going to go far didn’t help me get very far, and it didn’t account for a valley breeze that decked a load of pilots on their way back from Mt Aspiring.

However we did see four pilots in goal, lots of good flights, and an impressive performance from Mark Hardman, who came up just a few km short of goal on a tandem, flying an older wing that just wanted to get back on the ground & tuck itself up in its bag.

Now here’s the really remarkable bit – Middy was the first in goal by 48 seconds. However Louis, with all the practice from Task 1, was leading out for most of the task. It paid off – he made a killing on lead out points & won the task!
Lead-out Louis
Interesting to see the Lead Out directly impacting the task result, and it will be even more interesting to see if and how it changes the flying behaviour of our pilots – perhaps faster, more aggressive flying?

It was no surprise, though, to see Middy winning the comp overall. Nice work, Middy, you are always ready to inspire & motivate the rest of us. In fact, one pilot commented that 'the white GTO seemed to have a nice line in the air'. Yes, that white GTO always seems to have a nice line and from what I have seen, it will generally be higher, faster and further than you.

It was good to see lots of the usual faces in the comp, and the entire Timaru flying community was there (all four of them!), but what was really great was seeing so many newcomers. A lot of people commented on how welcome they felt joining their first competition, how much they enjoyed it, and learned, and pushed themselves. Regional comps are especially good for this, but competitions in general are a great way to improve & enhance your flying. 

Check out this article by Kirsten Seeto on comps, if you need any more encouragement:

As usual, Wanaka put on some stunning flying; every time I visit I’m overwhelmed by the beauty.

Thanks to the Southern Club for your hospitality – you guys have a great flying community down there, thanks for sharing your sites with us.