My first proper flight on my new Poison X-Alps and what a flight it was.
The 5 Star forecast that was given for Derbyshire on Saturday had developed to include the Dales by Sunday night. I had planned on going to Bradwell but by 9am on Monday, I had only managed to persuade my Colombian visitor to join me (well, he is staying at my house and had no choice hehe)
A quick call to Steve Etherington and I had talked him in to getting out of bed with the promise (don't jump to conclusions now! ) of a triangle from Wether Fell.
Once on the road he dropped Cav a line and a plan was in the making.
Brantside was the site of choice and I was happy to give it a try as I had never flown there before. It got a 'Thumbs up' from Colombia as the minimal walk-in was level.
We met up with about 9 or 10 Geoffs in the carpark, exchanged pleasantries and headed off along the track.
Ed C was already rigged and looking rather hot in all of his warm gear - I should have taken his lead over his dress code as it was chuffing freezing at base. So much for Summer!
We fumbled with our Varios and pee tubes for a wee while (no pun intended), shared the 52km triangle task and laid our our weapons.
I had only had 1 other flight on the Poison the week before in rather windy conditions on Swinside in the North Lakes which, pretty much, consisted of a lot of 'Left and Right and Repeat' so I was excited and nervous about having a thermic XC in front of me.
The wing is superb in every way but colour. The orange clashes with my rather orange hair and my pale skin resembles the white underside of the wing. Some would say that it is a match made in heaven though; -)
Steve E was first closely followed by one of the Geoffs. It didn't seem too promising with lots of cloud cover and only short-lived, weak cycles. They disappeared around the corner and we never saw them above the skyline until Cav, Godi and myself took off 5 mins later. A couple of other pilots launched with us but had the misfortune of getting lower and lower with each beat of the hill.
As I went round the corner, also getting lower, I saw Steve and Cav getting high and heading over the back. I managed to catch a cycle out front and climbed out easily. I was soon joined by the lead gaggle as their thermal petered out and they came to me to top-up.
A few mins getting to base and we all headed off together. I loved the teamwork.
Heading over towards Hawes was easy gliding under the clouds with minimal height loss. We heard the Wether pilots on the radio saying how crap it was over there and then they spotted us - they must have been really pissed off now!
Over Hawes it was either great lift or huge sink. I managed to lose sight of the ground very soon and popped out at 90 degrees to the direction that I thought I was on. Now it was time to head for TP1. We all sank rapidly into the shade with no let-up in sight. Here the gaggle worked really well with a wide search area seeing us sharing a weak climb together. Mike had had enough of this weak one, bagged the turn point and kept going downwind (not towards TP2! ). He was joined by Geoff C, leaving Steve, Ed, Godi and me fumbling for he core. In the meantime, both Cav and Geoff were rejoicing at popping out of cloud at 6200 and 6600' respectively - base was 5200'!
Here, after bagging TP1, we all headed off to the next one on differing lines.
Cav & Geoff ending up at the front of the next ridge BELOW the top. 6600 to naff all in one glide - epic.
The four of us left, headed into wind to the north of the others and were greeted with much better lines.
Godi landed in the valley before TP2. A couple of minutes after, a Tornado flew right through the valley beneath us and directly over Godi's head. Lucky!
Steve stayed with the lift on the East of the valley while myself and Ed braved a sink line to the next ridge. Thinking it was all over we hit a superb leesider. Back to base, dive for the turn point and crawl back to this thermal - sounds easy but it nearly cost us!
On to close the triangle… Should be easy… There was sun, into wind slopes and recently felled forests - what could possibly go wrong? Back down low and scrabbling around on zeros we could see a lone glider on take off on Wether only a couple of clicks away, struggling to launch in light winds.
Eventually we were joined by Steve, Cav and Geoff.
Lifty lines saw Cav and me with relatively easy glides into goal.
Over the radio I heard Geoff say 'My various tells me that I will make it' and watched him set off too. Oh poo! He had a very sinky, in to wind line which prevented him getting back round to the cylinder but still getting to close an FAI Triangle of great size (55km). Given the good FAI he wasn't too bummed about missing the goal although he is selling his wing as it's crap hahaha (Soz Geoff)
What a super flight considering the 5 Star RASP forecast (wrong yet again! )
New wing, new site, new achievement and doing all of that with a great group of mates - what could be better.