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Viv's Blog 2017
#11

9th May. Pontlottyn. A bright and chilly day. We parawait until the clouds dissipate, I launch in a lull, bimble along to the high point and back, and touch down as SteveJ arrives. I spend the afternoon watching everyone wrestling with their wings and flying intermittently. Too lively for me, Norris and Karl, Phil gets to grips with his new wing, and Nick pilot of the day returns from a triangle. 5 mins.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#12

22nd May. Lijar, Algodonales, Poniente.  Smooth launch in a warm thermal gust, wafted up in moments and with Fred's encouragement on radio am thermalling to massive height and joining the first launchers above, who then push off on XC. I am pinned above the spinebacked ridge in turbulent strong air, and after a little wing tip collapse I push out over the valley to the foothills in front of the hill, and find myself amidst several vultures, follow them and boat about until I am in reach of the bullring landing field, where it is buoyant enough for me to pick a nice constant aspect landing, keeping an eye on the windsock which goes limp as I make it over the fence with feet to spare. 2nd launch slightly clumsy as I slip on the loose stones and lean into my seat early, scraping my harness over the bushes below in lighter wind, again I go up and out, admiring the fine cobwebs in my lines, good height but with nobody nearby to cross the summit with, eventually land at the bullring again. Must sit back in harness and keep brake pressure on to avoid collapse. Fantastic first day, 2 hours at a guess.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#13

23rd May. Lijar, SW launch, very shallow and stony, I wait til most have launched, Gron into a tree, and despite strong gusts launch after several attempts and finding a huge rock in my cells which Stu kindly extracts from my butthole (!) and a big slide down the slope. Take a while to penetrate into clear air out front, head over to where others are circling, lovely 360 degree views over the whole vista as I gain height, push around the corner and sink forever after, despite application of speedbar, touch down 2 fields away from the landing zone, but nearer to the bar. Luckily a Swiss girl who knew Stu from last year is passing and takes me to the bar, where the others join us, Fred flying down and landing closest. 30 mins perhaps.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#14

24th May, too windy so some go kayaking, my first time and super fun, feel all pumped up and ready for more flying on 25th at Poniente. 1st flight smooth launch and as I push out into the valley I see vultures above and kites below me in a huge rising cylinder of warm air, I work it with more confidence than before but still don't leave the hill, ping off the end into sink to join Gron who has landed in an olive grove, I choose an adjacent field of wheat where the wing rests on top of the crop with no damage. 8 km. 2nd flight even better, when I reach orbit I push out ahead aiming for Puerto de Serrano, as I approach the last range of hills to cross I hit the convergence line, feeling pinned I turn back from the rocky steep slopes to find a nice big field to land, one final thermal has me circling upwards briefly and the drift takes me to a handy layby on the main road for retrieve, where I amuse myself with Nick's finger kite for a hour until I am rewarded with my first can of Cruzcampo. 7 km perhaps. 2 hours I imagine.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#15

26th May. Poniente. Slightly cloudy, I end up in the white room briefly, and finding it turbulent and disorientating I get out and get down, missing the power lines at the bullring and landing in the field behind the landing zone where I pack up in the shade of a huge old tree. We go to El Bosque for our final flight of the week, where Fred, Ray and I are the only three to spot land on the marker in the landing zone. 1 hour at least. This has been the best holiday ever, the guides pleasant and helpful, our hosts held a fantastic party on the first and last nights, the food in the cafes plentiful and inexpensive, my best personal achievements yet this year, and the camaraderie of seeing everyone I know doing what we enjoy. Sheer bliss.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#16

13th June. Merthyr. A light wind day with regular thermals rolling up the slope when the sun shone intermittently. My first inflation folds up tips to middle and I abort, patiently building my wall and waiting for the right part of the cycle, a smooth launch at 14.30 into a lovely warm air updraught, I push out away from the rocks, turn on my vario and climb with the bleeps, remembering to lean right back in my harness and weightshifting tightly as the tone rises, I look up to see a piece of sheeps wool wrapped around the C and D lines at the very top, resulting in a crimp in the trailing edge which I cannot dislodge despite thermalling the opposite way and using my brake to keep the pressure on to avoid tucks. I stay in front of the hill in the lift band but it is the thermals which rocket me up to terrific height, I can see Steve Millson training students on the ridge behind and I am so high I could glide to there. NickR urges me to join him over the back, but as I am still climbing I am unwilling to leave my bubble, the next time I look he is below me and coming back to try and catch my drift. Not sure whether to go downwind with my woolly crimp in place, I dither and lose it, as the thermal breaks off I find myself in sink and despite boating around trying to find another bubble of rising air I eventually land nicely back at launch. My hands are trembling with adrenaline, this is a rare occurence to gain such height, the lessons learned in Algo have proved effective. I have a cuppa and smoke to pull myself together, but the sea breeze has pushed right up the valley and the sky has become dark and grey, the clouds blocking thermals from forming and releasing. The tandems are slope landing but the wind increases so I pack up and go for a quickie with Martin Cray, he is filming for The One Show with a buzzard he has rescued. We slope land too and trudge up. The clouds dissipate and it turns out really nice for the evening. I have fun with the finger kite while Nick packs up and he drives me home. 30 mins solo, 10 mins tandem.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#17

17th June. Rhossili. The heatwave is upon us at last, a day by the sea is in order. It takes twice as long to travel there due to traffic. I espy 6 up as I approach, negotiate the new car park and walk up to see the usual faces. Wind slightly southerly so I keep out in front and enjoy a good boat about in strengthening wind, top landing after several passes at the pimple and getting hoovered up each time. The wind shuts off around teatime, I make my way home observing the speed limit on the Gower, to the annoyance of several overtaking cars whom I then catch up at the edge of the common. It is so hot that the sheep are basking in the draught from the passing cars. 2 hrs.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#18

18th June. Fan G. A good crowd congregates at the lay-by and we go to the south end to parawait, groundhandle and observe conditions. All around are beautiful clouds forming but above us only a blue hole. Some lob off and land within moments, all watching Nick R who calmly enjoys his lunch on the lower shelf which is less stony and flatter than where the rest of us are perched slightly higher up with a steeper drop to funnel up the hot air which at the hottest part of the day is chugging strongly. My lightweight wing is a boon to carry but I cannot withstand the hoovering at it's strongest, so I build my wall close to the edge and launch as soon as I feel the tug on my lines. I have timed it just right and am buzzing like a bee in the narrow liftband, flinging myself back and fore, going down out front and scratching back up, pushing in and out to seek the invisible bubble which takes me up, earning a round of applause from all the watching pilots.Land nicely back at launch. Then I blow it on my next go by circling too near the top of the hill behind launch which drops away from the lip and catches me in rotor. I touch down and am dragged as the wing collapses, tangling the lines as I go. By the time I have sorted it Nick has left the hill, a feeble crackle on the radio letting us know that it's very windy aloft and then he is a speck on the horizon.  The more confident pilots also go XC. I decide to wait it out for a calmer evening flight, but the sea breeze advances up the valley and the few who remain call it a day, lured away by Fathers Day commitments. 10 exciting and active minutes. A boomer. 2 flights. A nice hug from CD makes my day.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#19

20th June. Merthyr. A blastingly hot day, I bungle my inflation and miss the best part of the cycle, launch as the bubble is breaking away and am left to scratch along the top, unwilling to push out over the steep slope with no bomb out area, and touch down in sink as Nick takes the gift and goes over the back. My reserve pins have come out and by the time it's sorted I am alone on the hill. I pack up despondently and prepare to retrieve Nick, who is lost to view. A crackle on the walkie talkie reassures me of his return, but the wind is too strong by now, sea breeze approaching and towering cumuli put me off, and I am overheating in my plastic overtrousers. I amuse myself with the finger kite, rehydrate and sunbathe with cream on until he lands. We depart swiftly as some yobs chase sheep and crash their car in the ditch. 5 mins.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#20

2nd JulyLlanddewi Brefi.  NR picks me up to meet CD and we have a nice drive out to a different site. One pilot is there when we arrive, others soon congregate. Wind is light but thermals regularly blast through. Some slope land, I resolve to groundhandle for a while.  I am just behind the lip of the hill and have an inflation, nicely keeping the wing aloft and stepping under the centre for a moment, when a strong gust plucks the land from under my feet, so I push out, lean into harness and scratch for a few beats back and fore, turn in any thermals, gradually widen my beat to allow others to launch from the narrow hill, spot CD out and high and follow his lead, the thermals are intermittent and the lulls lead to a hurried return to the launch area, I get above the trees and push out again, my vario telling me when to tighten my turns, eventually I hit sink and am too far out to make it back to launch, as I am halfway down the hill I head for the landing area. This has been fenced in half and to avoid the sheep I land in the adjacent field. The farmer is there after seeing Rhun land earlier and is quite adamant that we should land by the sheep and not in the lovely meadow of freshly planted hay beside it. I was planning to groundhandle there so I apologise and try to head off Anna as she too joins me in the meadow. Profuse apologies flow from us both until his wife allows us to pack up in the corner and await retrieve from Aaron. Back on launch the breeze is noticeably cooler, mutterings about seabreeze from the experienced pilots do not daunt us and we go again, this time I plop out of the liftband and head to the correct landing area, buoyantly confident of gliding straight there, but as the last gasp of the thermal breaks off I sink horribly towards the power lines along the road, and opt to land in the sheeps field before the road instead. Aaron's t.t.b. takes him to the right field and Anna retrieves us both once I have found the gate to exit the farm. 3 beautiful peahens strut and squawk as I try to slink out unnoticed, which sets the dogs off, the sheep fuss as I pass, and back on launch the boys are calling it a day. Nice to be retrieved for a change, and CD treats us to icecream on the homeward drive. 2 flights, 25mins.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan


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