Of Bucket Lists, Finger Errors and Declared Excuses
There comes a time when you start to consider a bucket list – things you want to do before you kick the bucket and sometime later you realize that you’d better get a move on if you’re going to complete the list. So it was that ten years ago I bought a three year old Harley Davidson with the intention of riding it out to Ölü Deniz sometime in the future. This year I retired and, with Brexit looming, decided that now was the time. An added interest was that the second round of the BPcup was being held in Macedonia.
So it was the day after the Pennine round of the BPCup, Merlot, my Harley Davidson, was loaded up and off we set. Is it only me that names things I am fond of? Merlot was named for her colour and Florence, one of my gliders, is after Florence Nightingale, because she is a Cure and known for looking after the sick. My satnav is called “THAT B4ST4RD” after she sent me down a tractor track at the side of a field with ruts filled with water so deep that diving gear would have been needed to find the bottom. The journey to Turkey was full of incidents, Merlot breaking down twice, needing a new battery, then the clutch went and a new part was made for her in Fethiye.
It took three days to ride from Ölü Deniz to Kruševo. Did you know that there are no filling stations on motorways in Greece and THAT B4ST4RD was useless at directing me to filling stations off the designated route.
Macedonia was great; four good tasks and a fantastic time was had by all who took part.
Back in the UK eventually, after having broken down in Albania (repairs took a while) and it was time for the Peaks round of the BPCup. After the record breaking hot summer the weather forecast for the Peaks round was not good.
For domestic reasons I decided to go down to the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club on Merlot. THAT B4S74RD managed to direct me there without any deviations from the route.
The weather didn’t play ball for this round and the first task was binned shortly after the start as the rain came in but this didn’t stop me making a complete hash of my flying. I got fixation on the next ridge, reasoned that I had the glide angle to reach it easily, but first I had to cross a narrow valley. I hadn’t taken into account that the air sticks to the land profile. Over the lip I hit massive sink and clung to the side of the valley to avoid landing in trees, cut across the valley to clear the power lines, but now I was heading straight for another tree. I avoided that but flew straight into the hillside opposite, landing on my bum and wrenching my back.
The next day was blown out and whilst others spent the day walking, sailplaning, cycling and other activities, I spent the day in Hospital having my back checked out. Nothing broken and when I asked the back specialist if I could paraglide the next day? She replied, “I think you know the answer to that”, I did but I don’t think our answers were the same.
The next day promised to be good, and a task was set from Eyam. Conditions were tricky with bitty thermals and slow climbs, and then it all switched off. The bomb out field was crowded and in trying to protect my back when landing, I twisted my knee. Others quickly packed up and raced back up to launch for another go. I had had enough.
The task was a success and a few pilots flew on past the task goal to land after 126km.
The ride home was cold wet and dark and uncomfortable due to my back and knee.
Next on the bucket list is to fly over 100km.
Although the trip to Turkey on Merlot was on my bucket list, competing in the BPcup wasn’t, the reason I went in for that is because it’s fun. It’s for anyone who wants to develop their flying, learn more about instrument use and the different types of GPSs. You meet like minded people who are all open to discussion and helpful, have a laugh and enjoy yourself and I don’t think the BPCup can be beaten. It is especially useful for younger pilots, who are looking to improve in all aspects of their chosen sport. It isn’t the be all and end all of competitions but it can be used as a stepping-stone to more professional competitions, or just a means to improve overall and really enjoy your flying. What more could you ask? Don’t put it on your bucket list, enroll and have a go.
Report by Fred Winstanley and photo by Carl Foster
So on to the detail of the 9th and final task of the British Paragliding Cup 2018:
On Saturday August 11th the weather forecast for Eyam Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District was positive – we would be likely to get a task in but setting it was always going to be tricky for our Meet Director, Gareth Aston. It would probably be blown out with the 20mph+ winds forecast by 13:00 – so with a large field of pilots of mixed experience on a difficult low site, it was likely that not everyone would get away.
The south west wind started super-light and fickle. Multiple launches were allowed (but only one race start time), with many pilots landing 3, 4 or more times – the unlucky ones at the bottom either walking or running up. At least one van fetched some from the official bottom landing field.
A few very experienced pilots set Scarborough as their flight goal (140km) but to score, BPCup pilots had to get back to the nearby gliding club (our hosts for the comp) early enough to be downloaded and the year's winners calculated. With this in mind the race task set was a 28km race-to-goal near Swinton Station. If you decide to fly through the race Goal and keep on for Scarborough then retrieves became your own business, as did getting back to the gliding club in time.
Most of us took over 30 to 45 mins after the start gate opened at 10:50 before climbing out. Unfortunately later a good number of pilots were stuck in Eyam when the gust strength picked up and for safety the meet director closed the launch window for those left on the hill.
Once away from the hill conditions improved, with solid slow first climbs followed by stronger and sometimes rough thermals as the day progressed and the wind strength with it. A good number made it into goal, an equal number spread along the way. Dougie Swanson Low, Ant Moore and Gary Stenhouse flew on to 65, 109 and 121km respectively but only Gary managed to get his track log back to score.
At some time in almost every pilot’s career you make a finger error when manually entering a waypoint. In this last task Alan (Chinny) Ford did this when an interested bystander on the hill interrupted him with questions. In the lead after Task 8, Chinny by accidentally swapping W for E, set goal 9 on a North Sea wind farm while the rest of us headed for Rotherham! You have to feel for him??, he finished seventh in Task 9 and second overall.
Task 9 Results:
1 Chris Blanchard, 2 Gary Stenhouse, 3 Ed Cleasby, 4 Viv Fouracre, 5 Dave Thomson, 6 Carl Foster.
2018 proved a fantastic and unprecedented BPCup year. The first for ages with four taskable days over a long UK weekend at Parlick. The first year with a foreign task week, the first with 9 tasks in total.
The Cup overall was won by Chris Blanchard, followed by Chinny Ford (aka Alan), Carl Foster, Paul Winterbottom, David Thomson and Ben Screen. Gary Stenhouse finished a creditable seventh in his first season in the BPCup and he also won admiration for his brilliant and novel competition tactic of Declared Excuses.
Yet again the BPCup won for best camaraderie, camping venues, organisation and friendliness. Thanks again Gareth Aston and Viv Fouracre for the mountain of work you do for us.
Report by Chris Blanchard and photo by Viv Fouracre
Finally, a great big thank you to the sponsors – Beeston Brewery, Cross Country Magazine, Foster Knight, Ozone Paragliders, Superdesign and V12 Outdoors. Not forgetting Pennine Soaring Club, Bowland Forest Gliding Club, Derbyshire Soaring Club and Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club – we couldn’t do it without your amazing support.