zen and the art of thermalling

The forecast had me and all those around me excited and expectant for a day when it felt we would be taken by the conditions on the cross country flight of our lives.

For me this did not materialise, I found plenty of lift all over the site but found that some way up I would begin to lose the core would try to search for it but then would scurry back to the safety of the ridge to start again.


Even actually thermalling felt hard today, at times I did feel connected to the glider and the air but mostly I was fighting. This made me also tense and to pull in on the glider so I think I was flying way too fast almost all the time.

Eventually I started to feel a little nauseous and found the idea of landing leaking into my conscious thoughts  so fairly soon I was on the ground. A nice landing actually on my feet for once.


After helping Oz and having a drink and a chat with him and some others in the pub I thought to have another go. Not many were up and those that were were struggling and most of them bottom landed.

I waited for the shade to clear and the sun to arrive always watching the sky for signs of lift of which now there seemed few. I launched eventually into a little gaggle of swifts and had a scratchy marginal flight.

What I liked about this one was my feeling inside me – calm and relaxed – smooth and connected. I was much better at coping with a difficult scratchy flight than a booming one.

Most of the time I was at ridge height or below and when I did eventually connect with something and gained a few hundred feet I cashed that in for a top landing. The air objected to this and it was a struggle to get down. Grant Crossingham’s wife who launched as I landed and was taken, thermalling beautifully, right to the 5500ft airspace limit. However I was happy with the sense of peace I had inside me and de-rigged feeling peaceful.

For me the moment early on when I circled under Oz, Taka and Steve Cook together with a Buzzard right on my wing tip – we were together for a moment doing what we both love was beautiful.

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