25/9/99 - Tom Mayne, 24.2km from Merthyr
Here's my flight from the Airwave Challenge final. Quite a surprise really, as the day started horribly, low cloud, showers etc. Anyway we were dragged of to Merthyr, squelched around a bit, there was no wind, and not much sun, somebody observed that Talybont had been removed overnight. A briefing occurred, but nobody was very interested, the complete lack of interest continued for about an hour or two, until some mad fool took off, AND DIDN'T GO DOWN. At about this time myself and a few others started to take the day a bit more seriously.
I finally took-off at 2:30, I was about the 5th pilot in the air, and it was really nice, smooth and buoyant. I gradually gained height, staying near take-off, A gaggle was forming further to the south, and they started climbing out. I headed down that way and started climbing with a hang-glider a few minutes later, but soon left him behind when I found the tight 9-up core of the thermal. Soon I was approaching cloudbase, at about 1700ft above take-off, and I headed for the southern edge of the cloud which had formed a very fat street downwind. The cloud base under the middle of the street was much lower than the rest, suggesting very strong cloud-suck there, generally though the lift was pretty gentle, so I decided it was safe to continue.
From here it was basically a case of flying along the edge of the street, heading underneath for a top up every now and again. It was great to be flying in and out of little wisps on the edge of the cloud. At about 15km I got a little low, and had to do some conventional thermalling to get back to base. It felt very bizarre to be both so low, as I drifted slowly over a wide ridge top, and yet be so near cloudbase at the same time.
Nearing Blaenavon, the clouds weren't really working any more, although they still looked pretty active over Abergavenny, with a big column hanging down, it looked very unpleasant. I decided to just glide downwind, I had just enough height to clear the last ridge, and a little weakly rising air stretched the glide out.
Date - 25-09-99
This take's me back up to second, with just 6km separating the three of us at the top. All I need is just a 30km flight, and for Alex and Jim to stay home :-).