Bishops Castle Competition Report, 27 to 30 August 2005

Open Championships Bishops Castle Overall (pdf)
Task 1 (pdf)
Task 2 (pdf)
Task 3 (pdf)

British Open Championships Overall (pdf)
British Championships Overall (pdf)
Presentation Night

Day 1: Task 1.
A 50k race to goal.  From the Mynd to Gnosall.  Always going to be a difficult day as quite overcast skies and slightly cross winds.
All the top boys worked and worked a meagre sky and a lucky few eeked out a slow climb to base. Steve Ham was the first lucky lottery winner climbing to base with Martin Sandwith, unfortunately this was short lived with only a 9k flight. Meanwhile Bruce Goldsmith, Mark Watts and Craig Morgan found the other half up to base. In a better sky they managed to gingerly drift at base. Bruce and Mark actually made goal.
The other 110 pilots were left trying to escape the hill to no avail.

Day 2:
Too Windy

Day 3: Task 2
Down the ridge to Black Knoll for an external 2.5k start cylinder around take-off, then back to take off and over the back for a 36k race to Bridgenorth.
Mark Watts and Adrian Thomas were separated by 3 points, so blasting along the ridge together flat-out past the 60 or so spectators on take-off, straight into a towering climb under a good street.
Half the field got up in that. Alex Coltman led out over the back for the first few climbs, then got engulfed by the gaggle with Mark, Russ, Bruce, Steve and Adrian pushing on.
Steve Ham got a good climb and headed off, Mark and Adrian took the same climb, 15k for goal, and also headed off - apparently on final glide, with 11:1 required.
Steve turned towards some iffy looking clouds halfway, Adrian and Mark pushed on, with Russ on a better line a km back.
After the 15km final glide Mark landed 20m short, Adrian was to Mark's left, got a bit ahead of him by pushing a bit harder, and made it in, just. Russ cruised over a couple of minutes later, then 20 others made it in.
Weirdly the wind switched 180 degrees in the bottom 100m so that from cruising with a tail wind you ended up struggling to get in with a headwind.

Day 4: Task 4
56k from Bache hill to Middleton via a turnpoint on Corndon.
Good climbs (3m/s) before briefing turned, as so often, into much weaker stuff when the window opened, with a blue hole to the east of track, and spread out clouds to the west and on track.

The first gaggle went over the back drifting downwind in a direction well off track to the west, and clearly struggling for climbs. Nevertheless a steady stream of pilots followed them over the back as virtually the entire field got away. Russell, Carlo and Adrian were amongst the last to leave, having got very stuck at the Western end of Bache. Carlo pushed out across the bowl to the East and connected with a street that was sort-of working. Pushing forwards along this he eventually found something to turn in a couple of km out from the hill, and was joined by Jim Mallinson, Adrian Thomas and a few others.
At the same time Russell was leading a gaggle out over take-off. Both gaggles climbed at the same rate, and got to base before gliding off crosswind one cloud apart. Russell's gaggle never found another climb, and Russ ended up ridge soaring a flat field for 10minutes (he can stay up on nothing) before landing 6k from take off.
Meanwhile, in the other gaggle Adrian was hanging about in the whispies watching Russell's glider get closer to its shadow, Carlo was pushing on looking for climbs, and Jim was climbing up from lower down. Once Russ had landed Adrian pushed on to Carlo's climb, and the two of them were joined by Jim who rapidly cruised up past them to cloudbase. The drift was now 30 degrees to course, but there were good streets.
The ground below was littered with downed pilots. Adrian and Jim headed off crosswind losing Carlo on the glide, and then worked together for 20km alternately pushing on, and marking climbs, with all the glides straight crosswind. A convenient alignment of clouds before Bishops Castle gave them a good crosswind run, but the next climb was missing, and a low save - from below ridge height - was required. The climb was very well marked with thistledown. The next climb was on the ridge above Broughton, just on the Welsh border, and it was 800fpm straight to base upwind of Church Stretton. A final crosswind glide got Adrian in under a street that ran over Corndon, but the glide on Jim's Avax wasn't quite enough to connect and he went down at the turnpoint. Adrian hit 500fpm under the street, but had to dive out to the turnpoint, and it was only 100fpm when he got back, but the drift now was straight towards goal, along a street, with a good tailwind - so once you got Corndon the last 20k was pretty straightforward.

Report by Adrian Thomas