Pete Smith in the Nimbus, Carol and Phil in the Janus and I was in my LS7. Pete was first to launch while Carol, Phil and myself stood around thinking what a chump for launching into such an uninviting sky but after some time and some puzzled looks at each other we both realised the uninviting sky was actually working so we launched.
Carol and Phil first and I launched quickly after, established in a thermal and climbed to 27 QFE. As I’d thermalled through the start point I thought I may as well carry on and climbing up to 3400 I headed out to Ashbury, stopped at Membury for a top up, It felt very low but I was 1900 QFE. Got a couple of hundred feet there and carried on towards Ashbury. I got to Ashbury, well 5 KM to the east with a 30 km Westerly at 2100, decided I’d been a burk for not keeping to the west a little more (see Phil and Carol’s trace as to how to do a textbook TP run….), climbed a bit and nipped the TP, onward to Winslow. Pete, who was ahead had turned Ashbury (another textbook TP run) but had opted for the fall back task of Oxford South. I couldn’t possibly comment on the task-setter chaining the goalpost mid-flight without the courtesy of letting anyone else know…..How silly of us not to have picked up that physic message he sent out…. Anyway I wasted around 10/15km overshooting the TP while thermalling but got it and carried on, as did the Janus towards Winslow (the next REAL and manly TP…..) It wasn’t until I got to Oxford that I managed to get above 3000 AGL where I managed a nice 25km run towards the TP.
Turning the TP the headwind component was 30km 220 degrees and my track was 220 degrees. Had I know Pete had already turned Colonel Sanders (chicken) I would have agreed with his wise choice to change task. It was hard going and the climbs weakened. Any gain in height was eaten up by the distance pushed back due to the headwind component. Three steps forward, three steps back.
I did manage to climb sufficiently to think of pushing forward into the greyest cloud ever which stretched all across the direction I wanted to go and pushing I decided it would be much better to land at Bicester and get a tug to bring me back.
Barry at Bicester was very accommodating and pinged me off around Harwell and with a straight glide in I got back to Rivar, but only just. At Hungerford I was down to 1700 AGL with a 40km headwind component…
Phil and Carol were much braver but landed out near Harwell, they missed their fish and chips in the clubhouse, mine cost a fair bit in taco hours…..