I had decided to book SH3 on Thursday 27th June for today and tomorrow and the small bunk room overnight. The weather held up looking soarable albeit maybe spreadout. The evening before I was busy gathering everything I needed into a form that I could take by motorbike.
After a smooth pleasant ride I arrived at 7:45AM. Simon had booked SH2 but wasnít around. I had my usual big breakfast at 8AM, then headed out at 8:20AM to gather batteries and parachute and get the glider out. It seems it had been landed out wheels up yesterday but had been inspected and given the ok to fly. I didnít spot any issues so proceeded to get it ready. It was rigged by 8:45AM thanks to help from Jez Hood who was about to tow out to the grid already. Cumulus was popping aloft from quite early. DI and clean was complete by 9:15AM. Then I collected the bunk room key and moved my bike gear to the room. Then I went to the briefing. It was packed by 9:30AM.
A light NNW wind was expected today, so gentle conditions. Cloudbase was already above 2000 feet. 19-20C and 10-12C dewpoint was expected. Conditions were best South of the M4, especially towards the South Coast. Further North spreadout was expected to be quite bad. Maybe less spreadout risk was expected than yesterday when it clouded over badly later on. Strong climbs were also expected.
The main local issue was royal airspace close to the airfield until 11:30AM. Danger area D126 was active to the West, as well as restrictions around the Glastonbury Festival. Tasks were set along the South Coast, although the bigger tasks went inland all the way to the M4 around Swindon.
After the briefing Simon gave me a call. He had arrived. I was headed to the glider anyway, and helped Simon rig SH2 by 10AM. He then kindly towed me out to launchpoint by 10:15AM before going back with the tow out gear for SH2.
I then planned my tasks at the launch point. It was already looking good aloft especially to the South, and the grid was starting to launch. I planned all three tasks as they fitted inside each other very well allowing me to switch between them easily. I had the 406km task set, to Goodwood, Blakehill Farm, then down to Chard and back. It started at Candover Church to the Southwest instead of the usual start point to avoid a Royal Flight airway that was active at the start of my flight. I then joined the winch queue at around 10:40AM. Some gliders landed back and cloudbase was a little low. So I was in no rush, especially as the launch rate was slow due to the grid launching.
I winch launched at 11:16AM to 1300 feet. I was in a hole and the cloud to the West didn't look that good. But behind me on the South side was a better cloud with gliders soaring. It was quite a long low glide to get there but I arrived at the thermal with 900 feet to spare so no problem. A 4 knot thermal soon whisked me up to cloudbase at 3600 feet (QNH). I then went West and got on the far side of Candover Church. Thermals weren't as good here but I was keen to go so started at 3500 feet. It was a fairly easy run Southwards to Petersfield and onwards to the South Downs ridge where paragliders were launching. Soon after that I arrived at Goodwood Race Course and turned GWD.
I found going back upwind slightly easier as cloudbase rose a bit and I had good runs along lines of energy. At one point I was formation flying with another glider (KE) and I took some pictures of him. I could see that further inland cloud amounts were higher. But with some strong climbs and good streeting it seemed fairly easy going. After sneaking past the edge of the Southampton Airspace, and past Popham and Rivar Hill, spreadout started to become more of a feature. North of Marlborough it got quite bad, but with a nice line of energy and plenty of strong thermals above the sunny patches I pushed on. Cloudbase was also up to 4600 feet which made it easier to cross the gaps. But by now I was taking it easy and staying as high as I could. After one last nice street I reached Blakehill Farm which was out into a gap.
After turning BLA, I retreated back to that last good thermal street and got back to cloudbase. The thermals were good here. I initially followed the street Westwards but looking up track was a huge dead looking spreadout gap. I decided not to push for Chard and after returning East along the street, jumped my way back Southeastwards until I got to a nice street that took me past Rivar Hill and Popham. By now as I got back to decent conditions and away from the bad spreadout, I fancied going back to the South Coast. So I passed West of Candover Church and Fourmarks and followed my way South and Southeastwards. Conditions were stonking now and I soon found myself back near Goodwood. I carried on East-Southeastwards along the coast until near Arundel I found the sea breeze front. I was tempted to go further but the sea breeze seemed to be coming in and there was a gap to my East. So I turned ARU and after playing with the low cloud of the sea breeze and taking in the breathtaking coastal scenery for a while I set off back for Lasham.
The glide back was straight forward. Although the thermals down South were all over the place, very rough and hard to centre in. Cloudbase was up at 5100 feet near Goodwood though where it was about 6C. After one last climb to cloudbase over Petersfield I had a straightforward final glide back to Lasham. I heard over the radio that they had changed ends from 27 to 09, as expected. So I went round the Western side of the airfield before finishing high on the North side before a straight forward circuit and landing at 4:07PM, 4 hours 51 minutes after launch.
CAC-GWD-BLA-ARU-LAS was still 331km (at a smidge under 74kph) and by far my best flight of the year so far so I was well happy with that.
After parking SH3 I went to the launch point and filled in my down time on the log sheet. Jordan, who was in charge, confirmed it was OK to leave the glider out tonight. I took my stuff back to the bunk room then had a nice tea and cake at 5PM. Then I went to clean SH3 and park it up properly for the night as well as retrieve my trace and look at the ClearNavs on all the Discuses. Then in the clubhouse I got my laptop out where I put my flight on the ladder. I had a nice fish and chips outside for dinner as I cooled down. Then it was back on the laptop to look at my pictures and video, and write my diary. Soon after 10PM I retired for the night.