The unexpected flights are always the best.
I was lucky I could make it out at all. I had a kiddies play in Komedia in Brighton to take my boys to, which didn't finish until after 12 but RASP suggested day would be better later on anyway. That is if the sea breeze didn't get to launch too early.
I had to drive right past the Dyke on my way into Brighton which entailed driving past a sky full of gliders all getting good height. Control your emotions Andy, this morning is about your boys, concentrate on the present not the future.
When I arrived at launch around 12:40 there were only 2 pilots flying. Terry Clarke came over to say hello whilst I was setting up and offered me a lift if I bombed in my plan to fly home (having just moved to Hurstpierpoint). I thought of going for a pee but convinced myself otherwise as I was only going for a 7km flight home. Immediately after building my wall the WNW wind went light and I felt a very light breeze coming from behind the hill. Was I too late?
The single pilot left in the air had dropped below ridge height but had just found a climb from below the ridge and I felt a slight breeze come up the face. It was now or never. I launched straight into a lovely climb which we shared all the way to base with sea breeze clouds forming beneath us as we climbed.
First stroke of luck - not going for a pee. Had I gone, I would have likely missed what I'm pretty sure was the the last opportunity to climb out before the sea breeze.
The other pilot shouted to me "are we going" and I replied "yes but I'm flying north to fly home". He then went off east and I headed north to Hurst.
Second stroke of luck - heading home to Hurst helped me stay nicely inland of the sea breeze for a while whilst the other pilot who headed straight east and I think bombed north or Lewes.
After getting over Hurst with bags of height I put the GoPro on to film my house and Hurst. Then I asked myself the question, do I fly to goal below me, or head east? As my tracklog shows, it didn't take long to abandon my plan to land opposite my house and head for Margate instead.
From here I didn't see another paraglider all day, loads of light aircraft, 2 sail planes and plenty of commercial traffic heading to Gatwick. Incidentally, I was surprised just how close the airliners felt when flying right on the edge of airspace.
Leaving so late meant that the whole flight was spent stuck between flying marginally inland of the sea breeze or on it in order to avoid airspace. Navigation was taking up much of my attention as I often had to fly below the airspace ceiling to avoid the bad side of the sea breeze.
For the first time flying I actually felt very mildly nauseous as I was having to fly for long periods looking down at my phone to stay out of airspace. I was within 10's of meters at times but couldn't go further South due to the SB.
There had been clouds way off to the east which I was always chasing hoping to reach, but otherwise all the flight was blue except for the odd curtain cloud. However, the air was lifty and there were good climbs to be had and the SB was working well also.
I had a low save which worked a treat, brown fields, a bunch of farm buildings on the easterly end showed that it does work like it says in the books. This was followed by a 90' dog leg forcing me to pull out of the climb due to a navigational error with airspace, I hadn't really looked ahead as I was still quite zoomed in on the map and had thought I had turned the corner and was clear. I have to say FlySkyHy's new xc package is awesome for airspace with its side on view showing your heading and projected altitude for given glide; as is the new thermalling tool which automatically kicks in and also has airspace marked on it. I wouldn't have stood a chance without these. I need to add another screen and rearrange some of my current screen displays but otherwise I'm loving FlySkyHy on the big screen of the iPhone 7+
When I finally caught up with the cumulus sky I was now absolutely busting for a pee pretty much like never before. The air was so buoyant I was cruising between 2-3k' on 1/2 to 3/4 bar barely stopping to thermal. I resigned myself to fly flat out until I hit the ground. But it was such good air that I wasn't losing height and there were climbs everywhere. Sods law eh? Just as it gets really easy to stay up I need to come down.
In the end I thought I was actually going to piss myself so I had no choice but to pull out of a solid climb and big ear it down to earth.
On my way home Antonio asked me a question I have been pondering lots recently. Do I fly better alone or with others?
I think there are certainly positives to both and negatives to both.
I actually fly better on my own no doubt, but it obviously sometimes helps to pimp climbs of others. However, having to make every decision myself is mentally tiring. Having to check airspace all the time and work out the best place to glide to for lift requires brainpower. So, yes, I fly better on my own as I'm not distracted by other pilots but the decision making then distracts from the flying so it's a compromise.