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Project Land Speed: Wind powered speed record gets Green light

by Hamish Hooper/ETNZ 23 Sep 00:49 PDT 23 September 2022
Glenn Ashby on the edge of a fast drying Lake Gairdner - September 2022 © Emirates Team NZ

Not someone that enjoys idle time, it has been an agonising month of waiting for the moving waters of Lake Gairdner to evaporate for Land speed pilot Glenn Ashby.

Since early August when he reluctantly declared the Landspeed project as ‘temporarily on hold’ Ashby has been busy going over the minutiae of the entire campaign manning the phones and spending hours online to research contingencies on contingencies in the case of extended delays.

But after his most recent visit to the Lake in the past couple of weeks he has seen enough to now mobilise the operations and say “we are on.”

Ashby returned to Auckland this week for final planning and operational meetings, as well as a session to sharpen his high-speed skills (more on that later).

With Horonuku and the containers still parked in Adelaide, the small initial team have their flights booked and will be crossing the ditch early next week to meet them and Ashby and track them up to the base at Lake Gairdner to start the set up.

On Ashby’s latest visit to the Lake, at the end of the now familiar road, he was met with an unfamiliar sight- a largely pristine dry lake.

“We had a report that the lake appeared to be drying out, so I had to come across and see for myself. All down through the front lake area, which was fully covered in water last time, is drying out. Crikey.” said an excited Ashby

“What was 200 millimetres of water two weeks ago and is now basically dry.”

While the water is not entirely gone, it continues to move around the lake with the changing wind directions but all the while evaporating in volume in the increasing springtime heat.

“There is a lot less water which has been blown up to the north just a little bit. You can see the water moving across the salt surface here so it’s incredible to watch. It's probably only 15ml to 20ml deep and moves like a tide coming in. But the good side of all this is there's not much water which is exciting.”

“There's obviously been quite a lot of evaporation. But I think it's just about time to truck Horonuku out here and get set up, ready to go.”

Stay tuned for more updates as we step towards Horonuku’s first speed run on Lake Gairdner in the coming weeks.

Full NALSA regulations for speed record attempts can be read nalsa.org/Sept_News/spdreg.html

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