Sunday, 22 March 2009

Malvern BCC Team day out at the Blorange.

Saturday 21 March saw the first outing of the 2009 Malvern BCC "A" Team (OK so its the only team but it sounds good). We attended a BCC round hosted by the SE Wales club, at the Blorange near Abergavenny. This was the realisation of a vision brought about by the Stirling effort of our Captain, Kevin. Well done Kevin!

There was a good turnout (10 teams I think) and the Blorange was called as the site of the day, with the wind just about on the NW face. Conditions looked tricky with a very marked inversion and the wind was forecast to strengthen considerably in the afternoon, but in typical BCC tradition the task was called as open XC. The morning started rather well with the team actually turning up and managing to find the hill followed by diligent checking of radios, looking at maps and discussing routes and strategies and generally looking very professional. Anyway after much deliberating on conditions etc Mike M reminded us all that to go xc you have to take off first, so after watching sufficient numbers of pilots stay up the Malvern team slowly took to the air. At this point we all stuck to the rigidly rehearsed plan of everyone doing their own thing.

My strategy was simply to turn in anything going up whilst trying to keep Brian H and Nigel D in sight as they represented the team members with the most comp experience, at least on paragliders anyway. Actually keeping Brian H in sight was easy, all I had to do was put a bit more bank in and look up, as invariably whatever thermal I was in Brian was infuriatingly always 50 to 100 feet higher.

Right hand thermaling only within 1 km of take off help ease the potential conflicts and despite there being quite a few gliders in the air It didnt seem too crowded although you certainly needed to keep a good look out, at least it made spotting the lift easier. The Inversion still seemed to be limiting climbs and gliders worked small climbs back over the top before invariably pushing back to the front as they either lost it or the inversion killed it. This carried on for some time with the conditions marginally improving but nobody getting away , or so we thought.

Finally the forecast increase in wind occurred and led to pilots either failing to penetrate and getting sunk out on top or pushing out over the valley to get out of the compression. As I could see Brian way out over the valley still finding bits of lift with Nigel in hot pursuit it seemed to be the way to go. At this point one half of the team were pushing out into the valley whilst the other half had landed back on top. A brilliant tactic with half the team on top able to launch again if conditions improved whilst the other half whilst taking the risk of going down if they didn’t find any lift out in the valley were at least still in the air if the wind prevented further launches. This tactic had obviously been designed and briefed by our leader whilst I wasn’t listening, but it made sense at least until later analysis revealed other forces at work.

Needless to say those of us out in the valley eventually sunk out into the bottom LZ at Castle meadow whilst the rest decided it wasn’t going to drop and drove down to meet us. It was during post flight analysis in the pub that the true nature of the team tactics, seemingly telepathically deployed was revealed. Simple really, those with cars on take off, top landed, those not driving flew straight to the nearest pub! I knew following Brian H and Nigel D would pay off.

All in all we had a good day out, good company a laugh and we even flew. Non scoring squad members Simon and Stuart scored the same as everyone else in the end and the Malvern Clubs reputation for being sociable but not ultra competitive was upheld.

Team on the day as follows:

Kevin Pool (Captain)
Chris Hopkins
Bryan Hindle
Mike Milner
Pancho (Gareth Jameson)
Nigel Dewdney

Supporting free flyers/Wind dummies/retrieve drivers included
Simon Dillworth
Stuart Mayson

As a post script the pub ran out of beer and Oh yes some Avon pilot(Allan Davis I think) flew to Chepstow, apparently.

Chris H

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