North versus South Slope Challenge 2011
Fall out of bed at 3:30 am on a Friday to make the blasted flight to Durban.
Now I know what the Durban guys go through every year to attend the TOSS event,
and bless their souls for doing so. However there was a palatable excitement as Jeff, Christo
and myself converged at the Cape Town airport in the chilly wee hours,
with a correx box big enough to carry a fully grown small person,
yet filled with our precious toys and now to be handed over to the airlines
for transport to the other side.
Following the tail of the cold front that had slammed through
the Cape the day before we made awesome time in the orange tin can with wings,
while chewing away on peanuts handed out by men in orange uniforms…
and landed a whole 20 minutes early at the new sparkly King Shaka airport.
We were quickly whisked off to our lodgings by our gracious hosts,
(Russell Conradt and Dave Greer, not to mention the entire sloping crew in Durban)
for an even quicker of an unpack of bags, and into the car for the trip
to the Inanda Dam slope to greet the advancing frontal system which
promised to push through a strengthening South Wester.
(read North Wester if your in the Cape… land curve/twist/tilt, that sort of thing)
The Inanda Dam slope is not to be fiddled with! A 200m vertical face at the flight line
hits the foot hills eventually, and then tails off for a more or less 600 meter
drop to the dam way down in the distance.
Warnings were given that should one’s glider advance down
to the front of the face of the slope for whatever reason,
your glider will stay there… more or less forever…
or till the mountain club can get to it slung up in harnesses and things.
Starting out a bit light, within the hour and somewhere around midday,
the South Wester started to belt through and the lift went berserk.
Between BEE wing battles, a touch of DS, and general flying
Dave and Mark were able to maiden the new Minivec,
Russell was able to make his glider dissapear to a mere dot at the base of the valley
while persons fixing roofing in the valley below waved hammers at it,
and the aerobatics routine was practiced in some of the most energetic lift
we have ever sloped…very much able to rival anything the Cape can offer.
Eventually we all retired to Russels house and were treatred to an awesome braai
hosted by his wonderfull wife Mandy, and man is she good at the hosting gig!
Flawless food, plenty of the liquid stuff, and much laughter saw all the slope
crew retire before the midnight hour for a well earned rest.
Saturday promised a NE blow, so a change of slope was required,
more or less the backend of the frontend that we had sloped on Friday.
But mother nature as is true to her form chose to desert us a wee bit and
light conditions riegend for the day. Not quite as imposing as
the Inanda Dam slope, this lsope still had a goo old frontal drop off
that made men and cattle wary.
So thermal ships deployed along with BEE wings and we spent the day sloping
the most amazing thermals while waiting for the wind to push.
Late in the day the blow did indeed come through, but the lift still remained scratchy
and we saw a few gliders make an unscheduled trip down the front odf the slope,
to be recovered by the local lads… for a small fee. Come in Kobus, come in!
An early night beconed the now tiring lads due to the frovilities of the night before,
and a well rested crew woke up for the Sunday trip to a slope called Switchblade.
Panoramic is somewhat an understatement for the Natal slopes
and this slope was capable of handling a North west through to North,
through to North East switch.
With the temperature hitting the 30-35 degree mark,
suntan lotion was applied in buckets, caps donned
and our gliders took to moderate and hot conditions.
While waiting for the eventual switch to the North East
we did a bit of BEE wing pylon racing which was duly won
by by Michel Leusch. Eventually as the day waned
we saw the wind switch moved the entire crew to the
East facing slope, Russell called the event, and were able to carry off a single round of aerobatics
A six in cricket as it were, one shot at it, before the lift failed in the evening light,
which was duly won by Michel Leusch once again…
Congratulations to Russell Conradt for pulling off this event.
Yes Russ, the stress is worth it and those grey hairs
will make you look more distinguished.
Hosting an event like this is never easy, but hell, it’s worth it!
A huge thanks must go out to all the slope community in Durban.
Russell Conradt, Dave Greer, Mark, Ziggi, Johan, the ever smiling Rudi
and the ever cheerful Adi, Dean- our flight Judge along withLuke,
Kobus who just never gave up…no matter how many times his glider made
unscheduled front face landings to be fetched by the locals,
Simon and his son Ryan, and any of those awesome souls I may have missed in the line up….
and finally Michel, who just whipped our Cappie asses.
To those who missed it…you missed it.
We will be back, I promise you, we will be back!