We had been discussing this day for some time and 'where to go' was the big discussion. I wanted to winch, but all the experienced XClent pilots preferred Milk Hill White Horse as the best option. This is a southerly, and the wind was forcast as a strong WSW! The spur on the end points into wind and that was where we headed. I really did not have any hopes for the day, but was happy to give it a go as I was already on 700+ points on my trusty Iota B+
All the stars were there and early on, an elite gaggle crept away early. The conditions went bad, and many side landed. I resolved to wait until I could see gliders climbing. Side landing on the spur is unpleasant. The fields ahead were in sun, and the hill was not properly soarable. Shortly, I could see those out front going up well and flew straight out to meet them, ignoring the 2m/sec lift I was in. Good choice as that quickly turned into 4 m/sec, and up we went! The whole area was lifting off and we screamed upwards, with many gliders experiencing collapses in the turbulent air. Even those flying in the Milk hill bowl joined us and maybe 30 gliders went XC, leaving a deserted hill. Base at 3500ft was quickly reached and many headed off to the next clouds. In spite of many markers, many seemed to be struggling and dropped out. I pushed forwards with Richard Osbourne and Tim Pentreath, Catherine Castle and others. The strong wind meant we were covering ground at an impressive rate, with 70kph regularly seen.
Near Wantage Tim, and Richard took a glide and lost a lot of height so that showed the way NOT to go, and I skirted round a series of clouds with a couple of others. After 1 hr in the air we were already at 42km! Oxford had loads of convergence clouds and straight lining through these around 4000+ft was easy. There was a disjointed line of clouds going towards Milton Keynes and several gliders marking lift. I had to crosswind massively over Milton Keynes (to avoid Cranfield airport) in massive sink, but despite losing more than 2000ft I got good reliable lift again. Here my decision making went a bit rubbish, and I failed to connect and use lift as well as I had been doing before, and finished up low north of Bedford, where I landed. A real pity as the sky was magnificent and the 200 was easily on and it was still early. I landed a bit after 2pm! One thing about this day was that the thermals were well formed, even low down, in spite of the strong wind. 131k in 3 hrs. Wow, that is moving! Good train connections, and a taxi to the car meant I was back around 8pm. A great day out.