Ok, perhaps not, but here’s a very late report from the second half of the 2012 Rally.
On Friday we flew from Live Oak, Florida (very near the Georgia stateline). This is a gorgeous airport with a perfectly smooth, manicured grass runway off to the side maintained specifically for our use. It never ceases to amaze me that these airports don’t just tolerate us to coming in and taking over, but actually welcome it. Unfortunately, the forecast called for significant (up to 10mph) west wind. This means that the preferred task to Moultrie, Georgia, northwest about 120 km was out of the question. The task committee toiled for most of the morning trying to find a task that would get at least some into goal that didn’t go over heavily forested areas. In the end, they introduced two possible tasks to the competitors and allowed everyone to vote. The lesser of two evils was chosen – the task heading due east, downwind. I salute the task committee for working so hard to come up with something so that we wouldn’t lose the day. Unfortunately, even the better of the two tasks did result in quite a lot of puckering over areas that were a bit short on landing options. But, there were many pilots (32 at last count) making goal at a sunny little private grass strip just an hour or so west of Jacksonville. In addition to the forests, the other downside to this task was that it meant we had to drive two and a half hours to the next stop at Moultrie – a bummer for sure, but worth the drive as Moultrie is one of the favorite stops.
Moultrie always means great Mexican at the Old Mexico Restaurant – they remember us from the last three years of rallying there. Thankfully, they weren’t doing 2-for-1 margaritas this time 😉
Day 7 arrived with the best weather conditions of the entire competition – finally the south/southeast winds we normally have this time of year. The winds made for a perfect straight line task downwind to Americus, Georgia, but the task committee felt like a dogleg was in order to lengthen the task just a bit. Turns out the dogleg made it pretty tough fighting upwind on the last leg, but still 23 made it in, so it was a good call by the task committee.
This was by far the closest race we had in four years of rallying. Going into the last task the podium was anyone’s to be had. Pedro Garcia from Spain and our own Paris Williams were neck-in-neck in second and third behind Dustin Martin who was soooo due for a big win. Dustin performed consistently throughout the week and so many felt it was finally his time. But, it wasn’t meant to be. Pedro and Paris came in first and second on that last task moving them into the top two spots and bumping Dustin into 4th overall. Big disappointment for him, but it was a pleasure to see quiet, modest Pedro take home his $2500 in prize money.