30/08/03 - Tom Mayne, 115.2km from Leckhampton
What an amazing flight this was...
First to arrive at Leckhampton, but due to much faffing didn't actually launch for ages. Flew around on the ridge for what seemed like an excessive amount of time, giving up on perfectly good thermals, and watching Eddie having a monster symmetric collapse. Finally climbed out with Eddie in what seemed like a good thermal, after losing the core and having a biggish asymmetric, I noticed another glider (Alex) climbing well back towards the hill, so headed back that way, the thermal wasn't great, but at least we were going up. Nearly to cloud base the climb stopped and it was time to make a decision, West or East?, the drift was taking us slightly east, but the clouds were better to west. Alex and I decided to carry on to take the Easterly route, Eddie went west but was unable to get round the airspace I later found.
The next bit was a bit weird, Alex found us several thermals completely in the blue, it was very strange climbing with blue sky above, very near to cloudbase, and a cloud just a short distance away. Had a proper thermal (under a cloud and everything just past Cirencester, which took us to base nicely clear of Fairford ATZ, and then on along a mini street over the edge of Swindon well clear of Lyenham.
Next followed the first of several very long glides, I felt at the time we should have gone more to the east (for long term airspace reasons) but decided to follow Alex as pair flying with him was working very well. Had trouble getting to base at this cloud, and Alex again went south to the next one. I decide to stay on, found the lift, then had a good series of clouds crosswind. I met up with Alex again just downwind of Combe Gibbet, and we continued eastwards to try and get round the Solent CTA. We had our last good climb between Andover and Basingstoke, but couldn't continue down the street the cloud was on as it went into airspace. Then we had to big-ear to get below the 5500ft airspace ceiling, I wasn't too concerned though, as I felt sure now than we would make the 100km mark.
After another crosswind glide, and we found some scraps below the spread out, but frustratingly we were drifting dangerously close to airspace, and had to leave the lift to squeak round the corner. I was really concerned that we might have the flight disqualified, so was very careful with my map reading.
I needn't have worried, we had at least 200-300 meters to spare :-o. We found a few more scraps, but then with the coast in sight, we glided to the ground. For the first time in the flight Alex's Aspen out-glided my Carbon, and he squeaked over a wood into the next valley for an extra km or so.
A man with a shotgun approached as I was packing-up! but I needn't have worried as he said "Wow, that looks such good fun!" had a nice chat with him, he worked for the land owner, who drove over a couple minutes later, he was also very friendly and gave me a lift to a nearby cross-roads. There I got a lift, within five minutes, all the way to Winchester train station. Bizarrely I met Alex again when he boarded the train (same carriage too) at Basingstoke. Got back home at 9:00pm after a long but easy retrieve.
PS. The pic below shows the track coloured by ground speed blue is fast (glides), green, yellow, and orange progressively slower