Friday the 13th actually worked out reasonably well at WGC2021.  We still don’t have a 1000-point day in any class, but for once the weather came in a little better than forecast, most pilots got home, and winning speeds were well above stall speed.

The forecast was for weak but usable lift to moderate altitudes, with cumulus clouds.  The issue was low cloud covering the area at dawn and likely to be slow in breaking up.  Some forecasts said okay by 14:00; others had it marginally soarable by 16:30.  Experience here inclines us toward the pessimistic, but this time optimism carried the day.  The launch went off at 14:30, gliders were able to find climbs to near 4000’ MSL (that’s about 2700’ AGL – pretty good, based on what we’ve seen during the past 10 days) under a thinning cloud layer, and things went along tolerably smoothly.

That’s not to say conditions were strong or gliders danced around their tasks without problems.  Each class had some outlandings and speeds barely qualified for the adjective “modest”.  Almost all pilots spent a lot of their time below 2500’ AGL, quite happy to work 2-kt thermals.

Tom Holloran was unfortunately among the non-finishers.  He made a good climb about 45km out, then couldn’t find the extra 800’ he needed.  He wound up in a decent field just a couple of km short of the finish ring.  (All crews here have enjoyed plenty of retrieve practice.)

But overall this was much the most successful contest day to date.  May this trend continue.

The local town of Gouzon (population 1500 – about 12 minutes from the airfield) is our shopping destination.  It has a gas station, supermarket, pharmacy, bakery, ATM, pizza place and cafe – quite the suite of shops in this very rural part of France.  Sarah, Jason and I returned to the pharmacy there, where yesterday we’d optimistically left our passports and vaccination cards, in hopes the French government website, badly overloaded yesterday, would have functioned this morning.  And indeed, the pharmacist reported success: we each received our documentation along with a shiny new pass sanitaire (in the form of a elegantly printed sheet of paper designed to be folded twice, with QR code exposed).  We are thus once again welcome at restaurants.

I should describe the place we’re staying, a house in the village of Bord St Georges (population around 500), about 7 km from the airfield.  This is about as ideal an approximation of a quaint French village as reality could hope to provide.  Disney would probably construct something similar, though with no ragged edges at all – but this is a place built organically over hundreds of years, where real people actually live.  The houses are all of stone, showing evidence of careful work: excellent craftsmanship, not artistry.  The doors are of wood, and border on elegant.  Nearly all windows have shutters (mostly wood, but some metal). And all the shutters actually shut: though some look as if they may not have been used for a while, I haven’t been able to find one that’s purely decorative.

Bord St Georges boasts a bakery: small and probably about average by French standards (which is to say: wonderful).  A few years ago the owner decided to retire – and no one quickly stepped forward to take over.  Village crisis!  This was dealt with by arranging a subsidy for new owners.  Suffice it to say we have a pleasant French bakery located about a 50-second walk from our front door.  We understood the advantage of this on our first morning here.  Sadly, the owner’s vacation time began several days ago (August is very much the French vacation month), and the palpable decline in our breakfast experience makes us understand why the village would be eager to keep it open.