Day 1 of the Nats and it started off with free breakfast at the GEAR LZ (included in meet fee, will happen every morning). Then the initial pilot's meeting to get some stuff sorted out, then up the hill.
David and Lee (from Manilla) are originally logistics officers with the Australian military, so they are perfect for organizing the rides up and retrieves. Everyone has a vehicle to go up in, and a dedicated driver to drive it back down and chase after along the main road. It's pretty cool how people are showing up and volunteering to do small things for the organization, like make sandwiches for all the pilots every day, do the sign in, laying out gliders on launch, etc.
Anyways, up on launch it was pretty strong south winds, so we decided to hold off on a task until later in the evening when the conditions would die down a bit. In the meantime a bunch of us went hiking up to upper launch for a look-see, while others went back down the mountain to do other things for the afternoon.
We reconvened and set a task for 6pm, a fishbowl-style task designed to keep people local so they wouldn't have to be retrieved from a long ways away and miss the day 1 BBQ and party, courtesy of Muller Windsports. (Not a typical Golden task, but given the lateness of the day and our wanting to give lots of pilots a happy flight, we decided on this.) The task was launch to the Kapristo gap, to the gravel pit, back to launch, back to the Kapristo gap, back to launch, over to the west side of the valley, and into Nicholson LZ for a total of 35 km.
Well things turned out even better than we hoped (or worse, depending on how you look at it). Just about everyone made goal, since during the afternoon a forest fire to the west of the valley started up, creating it's own weather, and seemed to converge with the prevailing south conditions. This convergence happened right over Mt. 7 so people were doing the course with little turning required, and very fast. I think the first person into goal took only 45 minutes! So the day will be devalued a bit since it was completed too quickly, but everyone is happy, safe, back in time for the party, and stoked for some more km-munching flights in the next few days.
We are still doing scoring, but I think the first person into goal was either Jamie Messenger or Farmer (it was quite tight supposedly). We'll see in the morning just how many people made goal, but it looks like about 60-70% of the field did so!
All the American pilots are talking about how amazing this place is...how you can either fly early or late, but we can still have a task that starts the race at 7pm, and fly until 10pm, and still be making goal at that time of night. Now we just need to show them what Golden can be like when you can launch early and head downrange all day...