Long Mynd Paragliding Open & British Paragliding Cup Final Round 2005

The 2005 Long Mynd Paragliding Open was a four-day long-weekend event held on Long Mynd Soaring Club (LMSC) freeflight flying sites from 5th to 8th August. This also doubled-up as the final round of the British Paragliding Cup (BPC) series for the year, and turned out to be the most successful BPC round to date! Carlo Borsattino, event and series participant, and Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) of Flybubble Paragliding, gives a quick round up of the event, the flying, the comp and the tasks.

This event was run with the help of the LMSC, went well and had a generally nice social atmosphere about it. Not only was the event highly successful from a flying and competition tasks point of view, I think it was a phenomenal success in terms of being a superb social event, with many new acquaintances made, barbecues, parties, live-bands, great food, and altogether great fun! My local freeflight club is the Southern Hang Gliding Club (SHGC), from which there was a good representation, which was also good too see. 😊

From the freeflying sites point of view, as well as the superb Long Mynd site which many pilots already know about, we also go to fly at another great LMSC site, The Lawley hill.

The Lawley hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino. The Lawley, bottom left. A lovely hill, and a great freeflying site!

If the experience we had flying from The Lawley for this event as anything to go by then we'll definitely be going there again in future, as soon and as often as possible! [Edit: Reading this report again now, years later, little did I realise then when I wrote this quite how right I was! 😉]

The LMSC truly have some fantastic freeflight sites with great cross country (XC) potential! 😄

The competition

First, for those who want to know these kinds of details, I should mention that this round - the final round for 2005 - of the BPC was also an 'Open' competition, the Long Mynd / Mid-Wales PG Open 2005. All the pilots in the competition - 78 pilots in total - flew exactly the same tasks, but Open pilots only scored in the Open, BPC pilots scored in both. So, for each task - and the overall event - there are two sets of results, 'Open' and 'BPC'. Pilots in the Open are allowed to fly uncertified and competition wings, whereas in the BPC pilots are only allowed to fly up to DHV 2-3 or AFNOR Performance wings. I think most pilots in the BPC fly DHV 1-2 and 2 gliders, but there are also pilots who fly DHV 1 and 2-3 level gliders. Got it? Good! 😘

And now, my reports of the flying days and the flight tasks! 😎

Day 1: Friday 5th July 2005

It was too windy to fly for most of the first day of the competition, so no task was run.

At the end of the day the wind eased so Nancy and I plus a few others had a wonderful evening flight soaring up and down the Long Mynd's 8 km ridge for an hour or so before the wind dropped off to nothing.

That's just how the wind blows 🍃 sometimes! 😉

Day 2: Saturday 6th July 2005

On the second day we flew from the lovely Long Mynd - one of my favourite sites in the UK and, on a good day, anywhere in the world! 🥰

The task set was an 'elapsed time race'. First, up and down the Long Mynd ridge. Then 'over the back' to goal near a town called Morville near Bridgnorth in Shropshire. Total distance 40.5 km.

An 'elapsed time race' means the winner is however completes the whole course in the fastest time, from start to finish. This means that whoever completes the course first is not necessarily the winner.

Although the conditions were not overtly 'dangerous' (not too strong or turbulent), it was pretty breezy at times on this day, so some pilots chose not to fly. As the day progressed, conditions seemed to get steadily stronger and windier.

The only incident that I saw was a pilot on a blue Airwave Mustang who had an 80% collapse near the hill, which put him straight into a steep spiral. He then came very close to his shadow before he recovered. 😯

I was quite surprised by this incident, as both Nancy and I were flying quite close to him at the time and it really didn't seem all that bad to me. I'm actually generally a relatively cautious pilot, flying with a good margin of error for my experience and ability. I can only suppose that either this pilot hit a random bit of particularly nasty turbulence or he was flying in conditions or on a wing that were too much for him, or there's something wrong with the wing.

Anyway, this 'little display' was enough to make some pilots decide to go and land at the bottom of the hill. This turned out to be a good decision since conditions became much stronger and windier later. Most pilots had either opted to land or gone over the back by then.

I think local knowledge (and a good deal of luck!) helped a lot on this task, as it was basically very easy to do the ridge run part of the task (as it was quite windy), and after that it was a bit of a crap-shoot as to whether you managed to connect with (the correct part of) Wenlock Edge after drifting over the back in the best climb you could find. If all you got was sink on the way, you didn't make it. If you got some lift, you did.

Knowing which parts of Wenlock Edge are soarable--safely--and which aren't, helped a lot. One of our Southern Club pilots, Paul Penning, worked this out--too late--to his cost when he couldn't make it back out past the trees! 🌲🌳 Fortunately Paul was not injured. His pride and his glider were however! 😓

I chickened-out and left early to find a nice safe field to land in, about 20 km down-track. Others got up and carried on to the end of Wenlock Edge, from where a Lucky Seven pilots made the goal.

Special congratulations to Simon Burnell, who made it to goal on DHV 1-2 (intermediate) glider, and also Keith Clapson, who made it on a DHV 2 (sports) wing (Nova Aeron). They even managed to beat hotshot British team pilot Adrian Thomas on his wibbly wobbly Airwave Magic FR competition prototype wing (which behaves like a drunken jellyfish wobbling about the sky, and looks truly horrible to fly! 😱) Very impressive flying indeed, Simon and Keith! 😁

Day 3: Sunday 7th July 2005

We flew from a site called The Lawley hill, a great flying site, with nice take-off areas and good-sized ridge. Although less windy than the day before, the conditions were markedly more turbulent around launch, with strong punchy thermals.

The Lawley Hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino, Flybubble Paragliding. Long Mynd Paragliding Open & British Paragliding Cup Final Round 2005. Where most of us launched on The Lawley.

I think quite a few pilots chose not to fly, and some of the ones that did probably found it rather 'bouncy' during the middle of the day. Still, conditions were good for a task, and a 56 km Race to Goal near Worcester was set.

The Lawley Hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino, Flybubble Paragliding. Long Mynd Paragliding Open & British Paragliding Cup Final Round 2005. Looking south, along The Lawley, searching for lift.

Today was a reversal of luck for Paul Penning, as he won the task for the Open. Clearly sacrificing his glider to the tree gods paid off! 😉 Well done to Paul, who flew extremely well, from what I could see from behind him!

The Lawley Hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino, Flybubble Paragliding. Long Mynd Paragliding Open & British Paragliding Cup Final Round 2005. A nice climb out front, but not yet high enough to get away.

Chris 'Calvo' Burns actually got to goal first, but later found out that he had been just a little too keen to head off for goal and left the start cylinder a little too early, invalidating his flight for the comp.

Still, Chris flew an absolute blinder, completing the 56 km task in just 3 thermals!

The Lawley hill. Long Mynd Paragliding Open & British Paragliding Cup Final Round 2005. Back at hill, trying to get find that elusive good climb!

I managed to do something I'd not done before, forgetting to check the batteries on my Garmin GPS before I took off. These went flat shortly after I climbed out from launch and went over the back. Doh!

Fortunately, I had a back-up GPS with my Flytec 5020, which recorded my flight tracklog. However I wasn't using this to navigate yet, as I was more used to my Garmin 76S. This was especially fortunate since I had my best task of the competition and went on to win the task for the BPC, coming in fourth overall in the Open. I led Alex Coltman almost the whole way to goal on his wibbly wobbly Airwave Magic FR competition prototype wing, with him only crossing the goal line 10 seconds before me after a 10 km final glide.

Since the batteries in my Garmin GPS with the airspace loaded into it were flat, I had folded my airspace map only as far as the goal, and I was a bit knackered and very happy from a great flight, I decided not to fly on. So I left the climb I was in with Alex to go and find a field to land in. Later I found out that Alex went on to fly 170 km or so! Very impressive, especially considering how slowly I thought we were going for the task!

Simon Steel climbs out from The Lawley hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino. Climbing out from The Lawley hill with Simon Steel.

Southern Club member John Stevens, new to paragliding competitions, also flew extremely well this day. John got to goal only around 10 minutes after Alex and myself, coming 10th in the Open and 5th in the BPC. Well done John, sir!

Simon Steel climbing out from and behind The Lawley hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino. Thermaling with Simon Steel and others over The Lawley.

In the end seventeen very happy paraglider pilots made it to the goal that day! 😁

Most exciting incident for the day was probably had by Chris Blanchard, on his Ozone Vulcan. Chris thermalled into cloud by accident 10 km from goal and then tied his glider into knots trying to B-line down. He ended up with twists in his lines and got his little finger trapped in them trying to untwist himself, which prevented him from throwing his reserve. Eventually he managed to wrench his finger out and throw his reserve, which went straight into his paraglider's lines and so failed to open. Fortunately, Chris was very high (cloudbase was approximately 5000 ft AGL) so he had time to reel the reserve back in, peel it open by hand whilst plummeting in cravated spiral, and throw it again. The reserve finally opened at around 3000 ft, but his troubles were not yet necessarily over! He then narrowly avoided coming down in the River Teme, landing on it's banks. Yes, I think he definitely gets the award for most exciting flight of the day! 😱

Day 4: Monday 8th July 2005

Perhaps too hung over from the celebrations the night before, the task committee decided to keep it simple and set exactly the same task as yesterday - a 56 km Race to Goal near Worcester!

Conditions were much nicer today, with much less punchy thermals and lighter winds. That is, except for one pilot who decided to investigate the rotor just behind the spine-back launch on his Airwave Sport 2 - which decided to fold itself back into it's bag in-flight, fortunately recovering just before the ground came up to congratulate him on his 'excellent' choice of places to fly! :-(

John Stevens and Mark Rubinstein (flying an Airwave Sport 2) did very well on this task, managing to get away from the hill (which wasn't easy) and getting 24 km down track. Like many others before them, the false lure and sink hole around the Clee Hills caught them out.

Very well done indeed to Simon Steel for winning the final 55.8 km 'Race to Goal' task for the BPC round on Monday in just over 2 hours. Simon was first off the hill - obviously very keen - and climbed out with top UK XC pilot Kai Coleman shortly afterwards, leaving the hill together. Only 4 'Open' pilots were in goal before Simon, all of them British team members flying comp wings! Not bad at all for someone who's best XC in the UK was 9 km until then! :-D

On the same day, SHGC member Chris Joel was hot on Simon's heels and made goal just 10 minutes later on his Gin Zoom, coming 3rd for the BPC task.

Clearly unable to keep up with these two Speedy Gonzales super-racer dudes, I made a bad call to fly back to the hill looking for a another (better??) climb after getting to 4 grand just behind take-off in the next climb-out after Simon and Kai, only to find that things switched off on the hill for the next hour - aaargh!

After struggling and sweating, walking back up the hill 3 times, and eventually getting off just 1 minute before the competition take-off window closed, finally I managed to get off the hill and climb-out with Fred 'Hairy Fred' Berwick, who found a climb out-front of the hill - thanks Fred! 

Fred Berwick climbing out from The Lawley hill. Photo by Carlo Borsattino. Climbing out from The Lawley with Fred Berwick.

Now time to play catch-up! 

After leaving The Lawley, I glided towards the Clee Hills.

The Promised Sky! Gliding towards the Clee Hills after leaving The Lawley. The Promised Sky! Gliding towards the Clee Hills after leaving The Lawley.

I climbed out just before the Clee Hills and sailed clean over them, then continued on towards Worcester.

Looking back towards the Clee Hills on the way to Worcester. Long Mynd Paragliding Open & British Paragliding Cup Final Round 2005 Looking back towards the Clee Hills on the way to Worcester.

A few more good climbs, wonderful experiences, and stunning views, and I got to goal, about 50 minutes after Simon.

Woohoo, what a lovely flight! 😁

Flybubble crew member and team pilot Simon Steel adds: "That Monday was a great day. Strong climbs to get stuck into on my Quarx. I just went from village to village always finding a climb and gliding off before 3500 mostly in a straight line following my Garmin! We all had a great Indian that evening."

For the results of this event and the BPC series, see the BPC website.

All photos by Carlo Borsattino, Flybubble Paragliding.

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