Report by Neil Roberts British Squad Training Manager
The Long Mynd - Round 2 - British Paragliding Championships
Three days of sun and a thunderstorm - the second round of the Nationals fitted the standard British Summer perfectly. The Inn on the Green provided a base, and the Long Mynd club kindly hosted the Nationals for a 4 day competition on the last weekend of July. Three tasks were flown, two were scored.
On the first day, with an average (Weatherjack 2) forecast and WNW going NW winds we went up the Mynd. Conditions were perfect, with a soarable breeze and good thermals allowing climbs to base - at least they were perfect right up until the window opened, when as the horn blew the wind swung 90 degrees, to blow along the hill, and all detectable thermic activity ceased. Mark Watts managed to get above the hill once, but only by enough to top land. At the end of the day we all flew down, and RACE demonstrated the programmers skill by giving us all Nil Points - leaving everyone joint overnight leaders.
The Inn on the Green proved amenable hosts and entertainments continued long into the night - notably with the MeetHeads Birthday celebrations. Sadly, the morning dawned with more than just sore heads for some - the meetdirector displaying more than professional interest in the bathroom-fixtures and coming off somewhat the worse for his encounter. The locals rallied, and Aliaster Lean took on the meethead role.
With a very light Northerly forecast Llangollen was the site for the day, and what a site! Stunning. Many thanks to the local club, North Wales HG & PG and the local hanggliders who welcomed us with hints and tips on how to get away, and where we were most likely to struggle. Many of us discovered they were absolutely right about the difficult section at 10km near Oswestry. Those who were ten metres higher than me, and got the low save at Oswestry (*&^%$) pushed on towards goal at the Long Mynd, with most going down trying to cross the high ground around Corndon and Stipper-Stones.
Bruce Goldsmith was first into goal, followed 15 minutes later by local-hero Kai Coleman. Abigail Barr was first woman about 10km short of goal.
Day 3 saw light South Easterlies. The Long Mynd club, and Paramania were kind enough to host us at Bache Hill, and even to let us use the Hang-gliders take-off. Again conditions were beautiful with a soaring breeze and good thermals right up until the window opened at which point the horn sounded and the wind dropped to nothing. Kai Coleman was first to climb out, getting to base some time before the race-start, and having to glide out upwind and search for another climb to wait for start time. Sadly none appeared. Mark Watts made another heroic dash for victory, managing to cling on to top-landing height for many minutes before everything turned to worms, then Simon Ford found a weak climb out front, and one of the Hangies spotted a bird climbing out front within glide-range. He dived into that climb and marked it for us - must have been quite a site seeing the entire nationals field heading for his climb - especially given that the day had been declared left-turn and he was going right. He had marked it, and first up was Bruce Goldsmith, ever polite, so round he went to the right, forcing everyone else to follow...
The climb out was rough, but strong and we made base above the hill. A hazy-layer near cloudbase would have made route-finding difficult, except that John Bate had the bit between his teeth and was off on track before any of the rest of the lead gaggle had got near base. Fast going for the first 20km, but then everything spread-out and the last patches of sun disappeared leaving a long long glide off the
high-ground towards Newtown to the deck. The lead gaggle went down around 5k from the first turnpoint, and then 30 minutes later Burkitt Rudd cruised past to make the first turnpoint and win the day, with Mick Brothers close behind.On day 4 we went to Corndon but with Cu-Nimbs building, and the dangers of showers having left their indelible mark on the meet-director the day was canned as the thunder pealed, giving us just time to get in our cars before it rained.