Is it the same game we play?
It is a 5* Rasp day both in the Scottish Highlands and in the deep south of Englanshire.
Graham crushes out a mammoth 8 hour flight and closes a new declared FAI triangle of 108k from a tow launch. Well done sir! Inspiring stuff!
Meanwhile up in another world of 5* conditions, Bob, Stephen and I toil up 350m (1,148 feet for Bob) of steep Scottish hillside. Bob and I make the task even more difficult than necessary by precariously crossing two rivers before trudging across five hundred metres of bog and hideously energy sapping tussocks.
It is hot sweaty work and half way up Bob enquires, "does jiggered cover it? " "Well nearly" I reply, to which Bob more accurately says "fu**ed then! "
We eventually arrive at a 'suitable' place to take off after an hour or so, drenched in sweat, legs like jelly and dehydrated. Our chosen place is a slight easing in angle of hillside, slightly more grass than heather for avoidance of too many line snags and moderately flat. With care we can roughly lay out our wings and sort out the paraphernalia of our kit, careful not to let helmets roll off down the hillside.
The sky had looked very promising on the 'walk' up, with plenty of sunshine and encouraging thermic cycles. By the time we are ready to take off it had become full cloud cover, with a low base and wind well off to the west. Far from ideal.
I can imagine the contrast with Graham's arrival at launch - drive to flat grassy field, sunglasses on, refreshing drink to top up an already well hydrated body in preparation for a long flight, meticulously lay out glider, ground crew sorting out paraphernalia of kit, hook in and get towed up into first thermal. Bingo game on! Graham's highest point was very similar to mine but flying over ground barely over 200m he had plenty of height to work with. Of course Graham had to battle hard and showed fantastic determination to close out his task after a magnificent eight hours, landing by his vehicle and a nice welcome committee. Sunglasses off and a cool beer I imagine!
Meanwhile in the other world, the three of us launch into very unpleasant air and quickly decide to head across a nearby valley onto a more into wind hillside. What followed was two and a half hours for me, three hours fifteen for Bob and three hours forty five for Stephen, of painfully slow downwind flying under a dark full cover sky. Miraculously there seems to be plenty of lift, albeit, hard won, but there never the less. My highest point of the flight was 1619m (5312 feet for Bob) and most of the flight was over ground above 500m. There were tempting clouds but with a relatively low base and drift to the north pulling me towards very remote ground. I am not convinced enough to head north. I landed in a nice field right in between the A9 and A95 hoping to get a quick retrieve back into Aviemore. It is a busy road and I am optimistic. A hour and a half later and several hundred cars later a friend pulls up seeing me still their forty-five minutes after he passed me going in the other direction. I eventually get home five hours later, after getting back to Bob's car, picking him up, then Stephen and driving all the way back to my car below the hill we started from. Sunglasses had been off for sometime, but a couple of glasses of wine and some food gave me time to reflect on a surprisingly good day considering the effort involved and the conditions.
It had actually been a great day made all the better by a very pleasant evening with Bob and Stephen, the day before, with good food, wine and banter.
We play a great game but it does seem sometimes that there are some very different versions!