ScotBOS, the first round of the British Open Series, was an interesting challenge set in a stunning place among interesting and positive people where we were treated to the full range of Scottish weather.
I made some last-minute changes to my arrangements, rather than drive alone I travelled with Andy Hollidge in his 4×4 as according to the briefing notes, my car would not make it near takeoff. I also took a stake in his retrieve Adam Moffat meaning Linsay was now not able to help which was a shame as I had been looking forward to my retrieves almost more than flying. Quite appart from all of that I was significantly nervous about leaving my comfort zone, all the unknowns stacked up and presented me with their own challenges.
We had to be very patient taking time to enjoy a lot of sightseeing, eating and visiting friends. The weather and the isolation were challenging. I had my Dad come and rescue me one day and a night, it was lovely to see them, I missed the arranged meal but spent a beautiful evening with my parents telling stories and drinking Grappa.
The final day had promised to be good, imbuing the air with a great sense of anticipation. This day started with low cloud and a mist rising from the Loch… stunning if a little disheartening. Arriving late to the briefing I found there a buzz around getting the gliders on the available 4×4’s, suddenly I felt a quickening, we would fly this day.
The launch area was intimidatingly shallow with bumps and undulations that seemed to be in the way, first impressions were not good and at that point I was not happy to even rig, I took a long time to walk back and forth up and down before I found a spot that felt right and I was happy to unzip and start rigging.
I had Johnny and Dave Matthews next to me at launch, one of the Scottish pilots took off first soon marking lift. A group launched straight away: Johnny, Dave along with Gordon Rigg and one or two others including me.
I connected ok with some broken and narrow lift and began to drift back behind launch, Dave and Johnny were further back and gaining more, my huge mistake was to try to join them too early. I did not get to grips at all with their climb which I later found was an extension of the one I left.
I was flushed way below launch and took a choice to make a glide then to the landing with only one chance on the way to find more thermals. I was lucky to have made the early choice as it was an into wind glide at that time and I only just made it.
I listened then on the radio to Gordon and Dave which was interesting a lot in the calm way they would chat and discuss then glide from one climb to the other… inspiring…
A final postscript was retrieving Trevor Birkbeck, Andy reported having seen someone land in a remote place in the middle of the mountains – so we spent the rest of the last day driving on mentally un-passable roads to find this pilot totally out of both radio and phone contact, the organisers had the police and mountain rescue already alerted, lucky Andy had noticed him so we were in the pub having a drink laughing about it while he might otherwise still be walking out now…
[Reflections – 18/05/13 – Impatience, I have no idea or experience of waiting in the understanding that I am in good enough with the air to keep up and go forward. This mistake was like a child in a sweet shop dashing from one thing to the next. I blame, a little, my ridge soaring past and the general sense that you don’t have to worry always falling back on dynamic lift like its a baby walker but also its my lack of experience to really know and not just read about how to stay in the air and use it well.]