SHGC Paragliding 2014 XC Season Roundup

A roundup of the Southern Hang Gliding Club (SHGC) paragliding cross country (XC) season for 2014, including awards and flight stories.

As every year, the 2014 SHGC flying season ended with a fun-filled Xmas dinner party and awards ceremony. It was great to see some of the regular flying folk away from the hill, allowing for time to have a chat about the year gone by, catch up on all the latest gossip and share exciting ideas about the coming season, of which there were many!

Much merriment at the SHGC 2014 Xmas Dinner Party, organised by Simon Steel (left)


After partaking in some mind loosening fluids (hic) and devouring a splendid feast (burp), the (h)airy hoards reached a state of pacified plenitude. Sensing their moment, SHGC President Johnny Carr and Chairman Dave Massie unleashed their Awards Ceremony upon the unsuspecting (but very suspect) audience, whom were by now quivering with much anticipation.

Franco climbing out from the Dyke... but doesn't follow Carlo, who gets to Margate!

And the SHGC Paragliding winners and nominees for 2014 are:

Paragliding Sussex XC League

  1. Carlo Borsattino
  2. Nancy Elliott
  3. Peter Impey

Paragliding Sussex Weekend League

  1. Carlo Borsattino
  2. Grita Rose-Innes
  3. Kenny McPhee

Paragliding Martini League

  1. Carlo Borsattino
  2. Kenny McPhee
  3. Nancy Elliott

Paragliding Novice League

  1. Vincent Talleu

Paragliding Winter League

  1. Simon Steel

Paragliding Best Newcomer

  • Matthew York

Paragliding Most Improved

  • Grita Rose-Innes

Longest XC from SHGC site

Outstanding Achievement Award

  • Mark Watts**

Other news

In other, related news the SHGC paragliders and hang gliders each won their respective UK Club XC leagues. So the SHGC really is at the top of the UK air charts this year!

It was noticed that, by strange coincidence, all of the paragliders present in the winning team (Hugh, Mark, Carlo) were all wearing checked 'lumberjack' style shirts, which lead to some idle speculation:

Nancy, Carlo, Mark & Hugh. XC pilots by day, lumberjacks by night?

Catherine Castle: "Clearly it's all in the shirt. Luke [from the winning hang glider team] was wearing one too..."

John Turczak: "Clearly the secret to good XC flying is wearing a check shirt."

Carlo Borsattino: "Shh John Turczak! Don't tell everyone!"

Richard Goodman: "I've got one, but it hasn't helped so far."

Vincent Talleu: "Easy peasy. Next year I'll show Carlo how it's done... With my newly bought lumberjack shirt."

Nancy at the start of another epic XC from Devils Dyke.

Pilots' tales

I asked some of the winners how 2014 was for them, and what they thought was the secret to their success. Winner of the Novice League, Vincent Talleu was the first to respond:

"2014 was great flying for me, learning to get up in thermals was a revelation, and I could not think of anything else than get higher and higher! I have learnt so much from every day I spent flying. Getting up and away from the hill has become an obsession, so much that it has forced me to become very patient and persistent in my flying. In the past I would just land when it got light, or convince myself I'd rather fly close to the ground. But now I kept trying and trying to get up. It all paid up and I managed to leave the ridge many times.

My best flight was flying from Bo Peep to Brighton, because getting there took me a lot of patience and perseverance. I spent a long time struggling in zeros in the valley and I really thought I would never make it. I had an extremely low save behind the football stadium, seconds from landing, a few seagulls showed me a great climb. Also it was my first ever XC flight to goal, meaning I landed exactly where I intended to :D

Best newcomer Matthew York flying at Mount Caburn.

Highlight of the year for me was landing to goal after a long and tiring flight under a round of applause by the park-goers 😊 There is nothing worst than landing after an amazing flight next to people and being completely ignored as if it happened all the time 🤨

This year went well for me because of all the help and advice I received from other pilots, the best is going XC on a Tuesday, being given clues why I landed out so quickly, what I could have done better etc, and the very next day going XC from the same hill, following all the advice and doing much better :D Instant results!

PS. If any bad English let me know, I had Patrycja check it but we're both refugees 😉"

On glide with Mark Watts, having gotten to 'base NE of Lewes.

Most improved pilot, as voted for by the SHGC, Grita Rose-Innes wrote:

"It all started early on in the season (mid April) when I flew on my own from Devil’s Dyke to Battle (53 km). This flight was so stimulating and a break through - it set my mind and pace for the rest of the season.

I got more focused and wanted to achieve longer XC flights. I planned my time flying much more carefully, often I was able to fit work in around the flying. I also wanted to get to grips with our local conditions: the sea breeze, airspace. When I did achieve longer XC flights, that in itself became very stimulating.

Thermaling at Bo Peep on a classic day.

My most challenging and exciting flight with strong climbs, was from Caburn to Hurst Green in August (36 km). Flying as a gaggle of six, staying together, showing each other where the lift was, flying mainly at cloudbase. Then we all landed near each other at the same time. Very rewarding!

I think short periods of flying different sites abroad helps. I see it as a kind of training: learning, understanding, building up stamina, flying different conditions, different terrain. It all helps to build up the flying picture.

Next year I want to do much more XC flying – locally as well as other sites in the UK. Hopefully the weather will be as good as it was this year."

Thermaling with Mark between Ashford and Canterbury.

Peter Impey finished third in the Sussex League, and wrote:

"The start of 2014 promised two things: delivery of a new wing and a reduction in time spent working. The reduction in work didn't fully happen, but the new wing fired off a determination to get more XCs on the board. And the result? Well - at my own modest level of achievement - my best XC year to date by some way. 12 UK XCs over 10 km logged between early April and October, personal bests in distance (63 km) and time (3hrs 45) and - satisfying a private long held ambition - a couple of flights from Mt Caburn to my home some 13 km due north.

Thermaling at Mount Caburn.

What made the difference? I have to say that the additional performance in climb, sink and glide of the Chili 3 was fundmental. It gave just that bit of extra reach and, with that, the confidence to push out for that early thermal or to go for that longer transition. But, paradoxically, it was the adoption - at long last - of a more patient mindset that made me slow down and think a bit more about decisions, that helped most. Added to this was the good sink rate of the wing that helped me feel more comfortable - in the absence of other clear options - to spend time drifting in zeros or below, rather than dash off without a clear idea of what I was heading for.

And for 2015? More of the same, but with - really this time, please - less work likely, perhaps more travelling in the UK to explore other sites with possibly better XC potential. Can't wait!! "

Peter Impey thermaling at Mount Caburn.

Nancy Elliott had a great season, and beat most of the boys; she shares a small snippet of her year below:

"After an extremely poor decision to stay in the UK for the entire winter (and it was a bad one) we did somehow survive those very long dark, wet and windy months! :( There was one late winter flying treat - a great day at the Dyke, where I remember feeling euphoric. It was absolutely freezing but the Truleigh run was on and we had winter thermals, reaching the dizzy heights of around 2000ft! That was so needed. :~)

So despite a real lack of currency somehow I felt like I had a head start as I was flying with my same kit as last year: my super comfortable Impress 3 and - my secret weapon - the gorgeous Chili3. My one new piece of kit was an Oudie 3 all-in-one flight instrument, which I was very excited about; the year that followed proved what a truly invaluable item it was!

Nancy thermaling near Brighton.

My first XC adventure of the year happened when I was one of two (the other being Mark Watts) that had an early escape from the Dyke in early spring. I didn't get far, landing at Plumpton, but it was a nice way to start my XC season off - yeeha!

The next special moment for me was a big outing to Leckhampton (near Cheltenham) with a whole bunch of SHGC pilots in April. This was to prove to be an epic adventure for many! I gave myself a bit more excitement than was needed by landing in the centre of Bath (having just missed the next climb). At this point I didn't know that we'd be driving down deep into Devon to collect Carlo, and then all the way back up and across to Sussex! It was a super long day out but with a great bunch of pilots and friends.

Thermaling between Bo Peep and Firle.

Another treat was when the forecast showed that we had to go to SE Wales! So Carlo and I concocted a last minute plan and Phil Clark joined us. It had been a long time since I had been to Crickhowell so it was nice to be back, we met up with Richard Osborne and enjoyed a beautiful walk up to launch. Many old friends arrived at the hill and we planned a triangle. An incredible climb out from launch with most of the pilots all in one gaggle we set off although the triangle was quickly abandoned by most due to the wind strength and we headed off down wind...

Simon and Nancy thermaling together near Ditchling during an XC.

My other most memorable moment was a flight started and finished with Carlo, we flew from the Dyke and it was all going very well until Carlo got low and I chose to separate and carry on. I scrabbled on, it was hard work! I managed to get high and had a moment of joy when I drifted over Bodiam castle as I had always wanted to fly there since hearing the tale and seeing Carlo's photos of landing with Ghandi and Rowena there many years before. I was in a good position to carry on at this point however, after losing most of my height on a long sinky glide, just north of Rye I was not! I was in dribbling mode, really hanging on to not a lot, when suddenly Carlo appeared even lower than my uncomfortable height. Together we worked the scrappy lift and made something out of it. Eventually we manged to get back up to base and could carry on together, which really was rather special. Sadly I couldn't carry on due to a very full bladder :~@ so we landed together at Ashford. :)

Nancy on glide towards Ashford.

Many other adventures were had over the year, but I'll save those for other stories!

I'm very happy to have come 3rd lady in the UK XC league and walked away with a 2nd place and a 3rd place trophy in the SHGC Sussex (local) and Martini (national) leagues respectively. This meant that some of Carlo's trophies had to be moved to the side to make space for mine! :~)"

SHGC 2014 XC League Results

See the SHGC 2014 XC League Results.


See SHGC 2014 Xmas Dinner Party photos on Google+ or Facebook


See footnotes below.

Cumulus Mushroomus over Steyning, seen during an XC from Bo Peep to Bepton.

*128.52 km is a new site record for Devils Dyke, if only by 120 m! 😉

The previous record, set by Mark 'Wagga' Watts flying an Axis Mercury (uncertified competition wing) from Devils Dyke to Ramsgate on 26th June 2009, was 128.4 km open distance (138.0 km with turnpoints). This was Mark's second flight to Ramsgate in the same year, each time having to fly out to sea to circumnavigate the controlled airspace which was in place around Manston at the time! This record flight by Mark has since proven very difficult to beat.

On 14th July 2014, Carlo Borsattino flew a Gin Carrera (EN B wing) from Devils Dyke to Margate for 128.52 km open distance (140.32 km with turnpoints), so beating the previous record by just 120m! This time Carlo didn't have to fly out to sea to circumnavigate the controlled airspace around Manston, as it has been closed indefinitely! It'll very difficult to do more (over land) as Carlo flew to the very furthest point possible - but for sure people will try!

** The Outstanding Achievement Award goes to Mark Watts for the second year running, this time for his new UK open distance record flight of 275.5 km. Truly outstanding!

Wondering what happened in the rest of the UK? See our UK Paragliding 2014 XC Season Summary.

Below: Carlo on final glide to goal at Margate! 😁

Big thanks must go to Simon Steel and the owners of the Abergavenny Arms in Rodmell for organising such a great evening!

As with the last two years, the pub and staff were very warm and friendly, and the food and service excellent. This year, even the company was somewhat tolerable! ;)

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