After dinner around the campfire end of last week, with a group of landsailors from Perth, I went to bed around midnight, with the sound of rain still falling on the tin roof of the old mining exploration caravan we are staying in. In the morning the rain had stopped, but we found the camp area had turned into a bit of a quagmire, which indicated a lot of rain had fallen over the last 12 hours. We skidded down the muddy hill to the foil trays we had left on the lake surface to measure the amount of rain, only to find one of them had floated away, which gives you some idea of what we were looking at. The other tray indicated that between 15-20mm had fallen in the night, and the sky was still not clear. Later that morning more thunder clouds dropped another 5-10mm.
This had flooded the entire surface of the lake and has rendered it unusable for possibly another month, which sadly means an end to this year’s land record challenge, which is a very disappointing blow to us all. The Greenbird was in fantastic shape to shatter the record and it is very frustrating not to get any high speeds in whatsoever.
So why the peculiar weather and why could we not predict this? I will be going into a more detailed weather analysis in the next blog post, but in brief, July saw twice its monthly average fall in 2 days at the end of the month, then August saw its monthly average quota fall over the last 12 hours. If the rain comes in smaller showers with regular intervals, it can evaporate quicker and soaks into the soils surrounding the lake. When so much falls in such a short time, the clay in the soil seals the surface and streams start running onto the lake. This effectively increases the catchment area of the lake and means more water ends up pooling on the surface. It is not uncommon to have monsoon type conditions later in the year, but they are certainly a few months early this year, and almost impossible to predict.
So where from here? Well, the Greenbird is now dismantled and out of the big puddle and looking for its next record opportunity, the same time, same place, next year. In the meantime, we will have the Greenbird ice craft in action in Montana in January and February.
So how do I feel? After many years of uncooperative weather I am use to it by now, but it does not make it any the less frustrating. Almost every other sport or race has direct competitors, where it does not matter what the conditions are, they are the same for everybody and all you have to do is beat your rivals and there is always a winner.
In our situation, we have to wait to get the same (or near) conditions as the current record holders had in 1999 before we even have an opportunity to compete and this makes it incredibly difficult. When we can’t set a new record due to the weather, it is not like losing a race, but it is more like an athlete not even being allowed to enter the arena, let alone get on the starting blocks.
All we can do is maximise our chances of getting favourable winds by longer standby periods and looking at all possible venues. Persistence will always win.
Here’s our final video for this season from Lake Lefroy.