“Forbes Flatland 2023 didn’t disappoint!” Forbes Flatlands 2023 ran 18-26 January 2023 and saw some classic Australian flatland conditions with base at 3,000m and final glides with eagles. Vicki Cain from Moyes reports
We arrived in Forbes to a cracker looking sky. The official practice day was a hot 36 degrees and only a few pilots chose to fly before the gust front arrived late afternoon and cooled things down.
We set the dates for this year’s comp later than usual to entice international participation. Which in hindsight was a stroke of luck, as most of Forbes was under water with widespread flooding during November and December 2022.
Luckily, Bill’s paddock and the hangar with three Dragonflys was spared from the rising water. The ground dried out surprisingly fast and by the time Steve McCarthy arrived a couple of weeks before the comp to prep the paddock and service the Dragonflys, the ground was already starting to crack!
The long grass made for slow mowing and Steve spent 13 hours on the tractor to give us a huge, clear launch arena.
The later dates didn’t entice the international pilots as we had hoped, so with only a small group of 30 pilots we were again using the Forbes Aeroclub as our HQ.
We set the briefing time later than usual, at 11am so everyone could come ready to fly and head out to the field directly after briefing.
Day 1 was a 130km cross tailwind task to Narromine in the north. Climbs to around 5,000ft and some wind made for a challenging flight. Attila took the day win with the earlier start with Rohan in second and Guy in third. Task 1 had nine pilots in goal in the open class. Attila Bertok (HUN) was first with 1,000 points, Rohan Taylor 2nd and Guy Hubbard 3rd. Corinna Schwiegershausen – Germany 1st in the Women’s class and 7th overall. Sport Class goal was 74.3 km to Peakhill. Stuart McElroy was the day winner.
Cool temps with a very welcome max of 30 degrees! With winds from the east and problems with road closures from the floods to the west, a 158.7km south-south-west task was set to Ardlethan. A string of early dust devils through the launch line caused some havoc, although settled for the next hour while the field got away.
Fantastic conditions. There were 14 pilots in goal, Olav Opsanger (NOR) won the day; Attila Bertok (HUN) was second and Ollie Chitty (UK) third. Ollie Chitty reported a 30km final glide from 9000 ft! Corinna Schwiegershausen (GER) was first woman.
Sports class had two pilots with personal best flights, Magnus Rønningen from Norway flew 41.6 km on a Malibu and placed second for the day and Akihiro Takeno from Japan with 35.42km. Richard Hughes joined the comp after missing the first day and took the day win in Sports Class!
On day three we set up to fly, but by 1.30pm there were towering cu’s overhead. The day was cancelled before it started with half the field still on the ground. Day 4 was cancelled at 9am because it was raining!
After the rain we had blue cu’s and light winds and set a 126.7km triangle task and a 51km task to Trundle for the Sport Class. The sky looked amazing. Attila won the day ahead of Olav Opsanger and Trent. Sasha Serebrennikova was first woman. The latest pilots arrived in goal at 7pm – an hour after we’d packed and left the paddock! Congratulations to Neal Halsall and Bruce Wynne!
Open Class had 155km task to Wellington. Sport Class a 53km task to Gooloogong. Amazing sky again! Towing started early with everyone away in good time. A super task with all but two pilots in goal. Olav Opsanger (NOR) won the day, with Rohan Taylor second and Attila Bertok third. Sasha Serebrennikova was first woman again.
Peter Garrone was the only Sport class pilot to make goal with Stuart McElroy just 1.5km short. It was, said Jonny Durand, “a classic Forbes day.”
The forecast was for strong west-north-west winds up high so a 145.2km cross downwind task was set south-east to Boorowa. Towing was slow with weak lift in the blue and a few re-flights. The north wind didn’t eventuate and stayed pretty much south-west proving to be a difficult start. Very different to the day before.
Sport Class were all still to tow, so Wesley was able to do a task change for them with a downwind 39.4 km task to Eugowra. A good call from Ollie and Wesley. Stuart McElroy was in first with 1,000 points and Richard Hughes in second.
Jonny said the day was “challenging” and explained: “I flew for nearly two hours before I could even reach the 10km start radius. I managed the last start at 3.20pm with Ollie Chitty and caught the start in front on the first glide.
“We spent the next four hours battling the wind reaching 10,000ft once. Just after 7:30pm, we made goal along with five others.”
Ollie Chitty added: “We had 10’000ft in the flatlands, a gaggle with almost every pilot in the start and a final climb with a couple of eagles. Task five didn’t disappoint!”
The final task was a 127.3km task south to Stockinbingal for the Open Class and 53km task to Gooloogong for the Sport Class. It was a super final task of the competition with Guy Hubbard on fire, charging and winning the 1,000-point day. Ollie Chitty (UK) was second and Lukas Bader (GER) third. Corinna Schwiegershausen was first woman. Richard Hughes took the day win in Sport Class.
All the pilots made it back to the Aeroclub for our Australia Day presentation BBQ. Our trophy presentation was made that much more special with a surprise visit from three-time Hang Gliding World Champion Tomas Suchanek!
The amazing people that come together to put this show on for us is what makes Forbes so special. We had six tasks in eight days, over 200 tows and 30 pretty happy pilots and crew.
1 Attila Bertok (HUN, third time winner)
2 Olav Opsanger (NOR)
3 Ollie Chitty (UK)
1 Corinna Schwiegershausen (GER)
1 Stuart McElroy (AUS)