Dales Round May 2024

BPCup 2024, Dales Round 9th to 12th May - Report by John Murphy

The UK round of the 2024 BPCup was based at the Dalesbridge Centre near Settle in the Yorkshire Dales. It is a good base, nice flat pitches for campers, electric hook ups for the posh people with fridges for their beer (and milk), a good sized function room and a bar on site.

The first day started cool with significant high cloud cover but the local guru, Ed Cleasby, was already out on the fells finding the best site for us. So it was off to Wether Fell, one of the few top drivable sites ‘up north’. I have always thought it gives us ‘rufty tufty’ northerners an advantage when we have to slog up a hill to fly, as we can get ready and launch as the ‘southern softies’ are getting their breath back :)

As we got nearer to the site the weather was improving with blue sky and fluffy clouds so the anticipation was building.

On the hill there was a good breeze although cloudbase was on the low side at around 2800 feet but forecast to go up. Thermals were evident as witnessed by birds climbing out front.

A 24.4K race to goal was set and the sky was soon full of gliders, the ridge at Wether Fell is a good length so there was plenty of room for everyone and lots of little columns of climbing gliders were soon forming all along the ridge. Leaving the ridge was a bit more difficult, even getting to the low cloudbase was proving challenging and with the top of the hill at round about 2000 feet a dive over the back was committing with scratching among the fells to the back and an interesting walk out the most likely outcome. For the few that managed it, there was a good climb to be had at the back of Semer Water but beyond that a large blue hole waited. One pilot, Joshua Coombs showed it was possible, following a more southerly track and getting to within a smidgeon of goal, winning the day by a huge margin.

All the pilots that didn’t commit to the death glide still had great flights with some spending more than 3 hours in the air.

That night there was the usual socialising in the bar, my view is that a PG competition is a great excuse to meet and chat with like minded individuals, if you manage to fly this is a bonus. However, with a good forecast for the next day even the beer monsters were being very sensible.

Day 2 was a very cool start but again with significant high cloud. Destination for the day was announced as Windbank, a very nice scenic drive over narrow bumpy roads trying to miss the sheep and cyclists got us to the start of the hike up the hill. Unfortunately for me as I get nearer to the average age of a paraglider pilot I am losing the advantage I used to have walking up, although as walks go Windbank is actually not too bad.

The task was set at 24.2K via 3 turnpoints, cloudbase was much better today but we still had that high level cloud. It was forecast to clear but in the end it didn’t clear until much later.

The half hour leading up to the task start seemed very promising with reasonable thermals allowing many to get good height, I managed one of my most rewarding climbs when I thermalled up through a phalanx of Photons to over 3000 feet giving me a good position for the start.

The first turnpoint was towards the top of Littondale, beyond Halton Gill. Two distinctly different routes were taken, some running directly up the valley at the front of the hill, the others following the top of the high ground. No matter which route was taken it got very difficult after the turnpoint as there wasn’t quite enough wind to comfortably soar the ridge and a distinct lack of thermals. Many pilots ended up landing in the valley bottom after getting the turnpoint. After a lot of slightly desperate scratching back down the valley some of us managed to connect with thermals above Arncliffe and get enough height to drop back into Wharfdale to head for turnpoint 2. I managed to get all the way to cloudbase which was now just under 4000 feet and set off on a glide towards the turn point, with Ed quite a long way below and Paul Winterbottom coming in on a diagonal line from

the head of Littondale. The area just above Buckden where 3 valleys join proved to be the source of a really good thermal when I got there, I got the turnpoint and then was able to fly back to a thermal being marked for me by Ed who was still on his way to turnpoint 2. This was where ambition got the better of me, instead of heading straight for turnpoint 3 I headed back towards the cloud marking the location where I had been at cloudbase, with the theory of taking the climb back into the turnpoint and then cruising back over into Littondale and down to goal. The climb wasn’t there and with not even enough breeze to soar the valley side it was a sled ride to the bottom. Paul had followed the same logic and scratched over my head a few minutes later to land approximately 504 metres further up the valley (but who’s counting?). Ed took the direct line to the turnpoint and then contoured down the valley to land at Kettlewell, taking the honours for the day A few others made it into Wharfdale but all suffered similar fates ending up landing in the valley, nobody managed to complete the task. Once the task start time passed the high level cloud started to dissipate and some good flying was had by the hardy souls that walked back up and relaunched.

The insomniacs and bladder challenged amongst us got a real treat that night as the night sky lit up. Standing there looking up I couldn’t help wondering if it was some of our friends who have recently left us that were putting on the show as they pulled their strings and dragged their feet along the edge of the atmosphere creating the shifting lines and colours.

Day 3 dawned bright but with a bit more breeze than the previous days. We all set off for Whernside and the challenging walk into and up the side of the hill. Unfortunately it was breezy and with forecast increasing winds not taskable. Some flew, with an impressive 92.2K to Carlisle by Ed Cleasby and 117.6K into Scotland by Robin Wallace (a site record). For the rest of us the equally challenging trudge back down the hill including picking our way through the bog that guards the hill.

Overall results based on the two days flying gave the top six as:

#

Name

Glider

Total

1

Joshua Coombs

Air Design Rise 4

161

2

Ed Cleasby

Ozone Photon

154

3

John Murphy

Niviuk Artik R

151

4

Robin Wallace

Ozone Photon

148

5

Brian Greenwell

Ozone Photon

109

6

Rob Urselmann

Skywalk Chili 5

108

The prize giving was held on the Saturday evening which allowed much sampling of the on site pizzas and beer, a fitting end to the competition.

A huge thanks is due to Gareth, Viv and their band of helpers for organising and running the competition, a difficult and at times stressful undertaking it really is appreciated.

Not forgetting our sponsors Ozone Paragliders, Cross Country Magazine, V12 Outdoor, Snowdon Gliders and Foster Knight Accountants, we couldn’t do it without you so a very big thank you.

Photo by Nina Clough

Task 1 Wether Fell

Task 2 Windbank