Having watched Carol & Phil landing back, reciprocal, having found a world of sink on their short foray I wondered at Pete’s decision to take a launch. He took off in 737; I followed a few minutes later on the second wire in B1 thinking it was a nice day for a circuit.
As it happened there was lift; he was thermalling in better air (as well as thermalling better) than me with a 3.5 knot average climb compared to my 2 knot. Fifteen minutes later and 4k higher Pete struck out on the task, first TP Lambourn, not too far but with challenging conditions it made the leg difficult.
I decided to top up a little at Hungerford, Pete blasted on turning Lambourn, only stopping halfway between Lambourn and Marlborough after the TP. The wind was about 25 km/h and any progress toward Melksham was painfully slow.
Stopping was counter-productive as the gain in height was quickly outweighed by the distance pushed back in anything other than the strongest of thermals.I climbed again near Ogbourne St George but was blown back 4km. By the time I got to the same point on task I had only gained a measly 400 feet and Pete was 12km ahead and only 400 feet lower.
Our track took us both independently through Marlborough and to the South of our line but the sky looked better as did the clouds.
As we headed West we both aimed at Devizes which always seems to offer and produce a free ‘get out of jail’ card. Pete took a few turns and headed for Melksham. I took a couple of weak climbs that I shouldn’t have, but being down to 1900 QFE I was starting to worry about finding any lift. By this time the wind had increased to 35 km/h and Pete was nearly 10km ahead but in the weeds at 1200 QFE. Still, the saving grace for both was that Keevil were throwing gliders into the sky so a safe landing there was now an option.
Pete got a small climb over Melksham, turned the TP and headed downwind and back to Rivar. He pulled ahead and was 11km in front, I stopped for a top-up at Devizes where I got enough to think about a final glide with 30km to go. Pete topped up at Manningford, 17km out, 1600 feet QFE.
By East Grafton we were neck and neck, Pete running in at 160km/h while I was edging towards him at 180km/h, 800 feet and 5km to go.
I passed Pete just 3km out, he was higher (well 800 feet higher than me) to my right. I only just nipping past him, by the time I got to the airfield I was 400 above it. I turned in and landed.(final turn 10/10, >300 feet. Circuit 1/10.
I was lucky, Pete wasn’t trying….