The Dynasoarers

Hang gliding & Paragliding on the Surf Coast

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Who needs the Morning Glory

Geoff Coombs – August 1996

It looked like it was going to be a typical Spion day; The windsock at work showed a steady 15 knots from the south (one of the advantages of working at an airfield). I normally finish work at 3pm but I was getting restless and we weren't too busy, so I managed to sneak away at 2.30pm with my usual excuse of "I gotta go, it's a Southerly".

Driving down the coast it was looking like it might have a bit of East in it. That meant possibly a flight to Lorne -beauty! Passing Anglesea the wind was getting lighter, approaching Airey's Inlet lighter still -bummer! By the time I got to Spion there were no white caps at all, but at least Ted Remieka was flying, well sort of. He was scratching close to cliffs and looking like he was about to bomb out any second. I started thinking that I should have stayed at work (now that's really depressing!).

When I reached the top of the hill I could see white caps out to sea, so there was hope yet. Besides, Warren McDonald was setting up and I was'nt going to look like a wimp by not getting ready. Soon after, Ted landed. It was not looking good! Half an hour later and the white caps still hadn't come much closer. The wind died to almost nothing and we started looking pretty silly all set up with no place to go.

After another fifteen minutes I decided to glide down to the beach. Harold Niblock arrived as I packed up and we observed the white caps getting closer, there was clear sky to the east with a very distinctive line of clouds forming a stationary band across the sky (convergence?). I had soared in front of clouds before and this was starting to look interesting but it was also getting late. The lower wisps of cloud where now definitely moving from the east so we could still race down to Bells Beach for a decent fight before it was too dark. Past Anglesea the wind strength was increasing, so was our speed. I heard Mark Pike on the UHF saying the lift was strong and smooth as glass, that guy just never misses out on a decent flight! Ted was there as well. It was hard not to put my foot flat to the floor. At Bells we could see both Ted and Mark over at Pt. Addis at around 1,000ft and slowly climbing. I was racing to set up the glider while the wind was slowly increasing, as it often does in an easterly

Harold wasn't flying and kindly gave me a hand to set up in record time.

Two more desperados turned up, Rob Van der Klooster and Rob Ruge, and were rapidly setting up. This was becoming quite a party. By the time I launched, it was blowing around 30mph and the air was a little rough. I raced around to Pt. Addis without admiring the view of the nudist beach (not that I would look, of course).

Lower down the wind was strong and rough, but as I climbed past 600-700ft the wind strength dropped to around 25mph and it became as smooth as glass. Ted and Mark were at Anglesea by now and I raced to join them. My radio was playing up, in my haste to set up I hadn't plugged the aerial in properly, and I couldn't contact anyone. Heading towards Anglesea I could see the band of cloud stationary over Urquart's Bluff at around 1,500ft. It looked awesome! Mark was still at Anglesea when I arrived and we both enjoyed the magnificent view as we slowly climbed in silky smooth air. Pretty soon we headed off to Urquart's Bluff and that amazing looking cloud. Normally we would have lost a few hundred feet crossing to Urquart's, instead we slowly climbed all the way.

With the sun low in the sky behind the cloud band, the view was simply breathtaking! This is what hang gliding is all about you couldn't see views like this from the ground!

As I was watching, wisps of cloud formed at the front edge of the cloud bank and moved back with the wind, to be replaced by more cloud forming. I assumed the easterly wind was being forced up over a heavier, more stationary mass of air, causing the cloud to form, but I am no weather expert.

The cloud band was slowly moving back from Urquart's and heading in a direct line to Spion and inland, cutting behind Airey's Inlet. By this time we were at 1,900ft and above the cloud so we just followed it inland, climbing all the way. It was bizarre to approach Spion from the back at around 2,200ft!

The cloud band was heading out to sea in the general direction of Lorne. Without hesitation we both kept going, following the cloud out to sea. I thought we would go out a little way, making sure we could glide back, but we just kept climbing slowly as we flew futher and futher away from the shore.

Pretty soon we were more than 5km offshore and I was starting to 'point my toes', nervously thinking about turning back. All I could see was endless water and cloud. Mark was a long way in front of the cloud and I was wondering what the hell he was doing out there. When we reached 2,500ft, about 10km offshore, my nerve left me and I decided to turn back just as Mark raced passed and yelled "Land Ahoy!". I turned around and followed, realising that he been out in front to locate land under the cloud. After what seemed like ages, a slight break appeared in the clouds and I could just make out Lorne Pier far below us. I let out an almighty yell of joy as the tension of the last ten minutes was released.

What a relief. It was great to be alive and the view was unbelievable! The cloud was still heading out to sea into the distance but unless we wanted to fly to Tasmania we weren't going any futher. We thought of landing at Lome, but what the heck, we could try to make it back! It was amazing looking at Spion in the distance, slowly getting closer, the sea 2,700ft below us and this huge band of cloud to our left. I'll never forget the sight. After reaching Spion, we followed the cloud back the way we had come but the lift was dying off inland, forcing us to turn back and land on the beach. As we spiralled down it was getting dark and the wind strength picked up as we descended below 1,000ft making penetration difficult, but amazingly below 300ft there was no wind at all. Needless to say, we both overshot the landing area at Mogg's Creek and had a bit of exercise walking back, but did we care?