|Day 1 (Official) Tuesday, June 17, 2008 --- Errol Drew|
Once again the weatherman was reluctant to convey any hint of soaring enthusiasm for the day, warning instead of near certainty of isolated rain showers with the possibility of hail in spite the window of good lift that could be expected for the few midday sunshine hours. With that in mind, the 15M fleet all launched by 12 pm and a change of task confirmed by roll call, the first gliders were quick to head south as the gate opened 15 minutes later . Not long after that the sports class followed on the same task. Lift was strong with the thermals having relatively short cycles; climbs of 4 to 5 knots were common with more occasionally along the track towards the only turnpoint, Rutland, with a generous 15 mile radius. The wind was out of the south west at around 10 knots and at higher altitudes appeared to be more westerly. This aided the high ground of the east ridge to produce predictable lift along the course although it was necessary to transition towards the turnpoint direction. Even this early in the day there was evidence of tall Cu's building and some cells forming.
Towards the turnpoint there appeared to be modest wave assisted lift helping those seeking to optimise the distance in order to remain outside the minimum task time of one hour and fifteen minutes. On making the turn and looking homewards it was obvious that heavy precipitation was imminent along the Rte 100 valley which meant that decisions had to be made as to whether speed points were relevant when the prospect of returning home at all seemed bleak. As it transpired, most of the early starters were fortunate enough to gain sufficient altitude for a final glide that allowed their gliders to experience a thorough washing down for several minutes at different intervals along the route. With energy terminated as the big cells moved into the course area, nearly half of the fleet had to scramble to find suitable fields in which to land and maybe even be lucky enough to stay dry. Some found less suitable landing spots with one necessitating a swim to shore but fortunately no one was injured .
The ably manned retrieve desk was extremely busy and those landing back were soon required to assist with the many land outs. Since one farmer was less than cooperative, there was no shortage of mud for the slinging that ensued. In spite of the many landouts, thanks to the early and brief task, all were home well in time for dinner at a reasonable hour.