Tuesday, August 7, 2012

5 August 2012

On the first official day of the contest, 21 of the 23 countries represented here have flags flying from poles placed in a semi-circle in front of the competition headquarters. The big tent stands ready, stocked with snow cones, local honey, soft drink, beer, and bar-b-q, as well as, of course, t-shirts, caps, and bumper stickers, courtesy of local vendors and the Soaring Society of America. To the side of the tent, a deflated bouncy house lies waiting for start up. There will be fewer children here during the official contest; some teams, notably the French, have sent their families home. 

Uvalde Chamber of Commerce threw a colorful parade yesterday with local businesses sponsoring each of the countries. We especially enjoyed the German team dressed in cowboy hats, boots, and jeans, the Austrian team in lederhosen, and the Polish team riding a float next to the largest bar-b-q cooker anyone had ever seem. The U.S. team rode in long-finned 1950s convertibles, with Shriners in go-karts behind them and the high school marching band bringing up the rear.

After Opening Ceremonies at the Honey Bowl Stadium, pilots and crews took advantage of the free afternoon to visit local attractions. The huge Oasis hunting/fishing supply store sports an awe-inspiring selection of trophy deer, elk, rabbits, bobcats, wild turkeys, pheasants, javelina, quail, bears and bear cubs, as well as an ample salad bar. While enjoying her greens, a mildly horrified member of the Dutch team inquired, “Are all these animals for sale?” When told, no, she pressed on, “Were they all killed here? Why are they here? What do they mean?”

Ambitious tasks today: 554 km for the 18 meter, 577 km for the 15 meter, and 630 km for the Open Class. A couple of weather worries: a disturbance in the Gulf that seems to be moving southwest toward us, and the usual afternoon sea breeze front. These potential trouble makers are particularly worrisome for the Open Class, whose last turnpoint is Yancy, to the southeastern quadrant of the task area.

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