British Paragliding Cup (BPC) - 2014

2nd - 9th August

This year saw a resurgence of interest in the BPC. Numbers were boosted by the introduction of the CP 'comp introduction' element, which in turn led to some great talks by the more experienced and knowledgeable pilots. The new (ish) leadership team (Laurie, Gareth and Viv) are proving a formidable act (literally) and it's great to be part of the whole, very friendly fun/fly/learn experience. Despite being  what may seem a lengthy, nine day event -  and we never seem over-blessed with the best flying weather, it manages to pass with remarkable speed due to a succession  of talks, meals, tasks, discussion groups and this year even some P (pilot) exam taking. Keep em occupied seems a useful strategy. To me it's amazing that a lot more pilots are not waking up to the whole extended flying and learning experience right on their UK doorsteps. The Gliding Club  venue  holds all pilots together and offers the perfect facilities for social (breakfasts, evening meals and drinks), briefings and talks plus low cost accommodation. It really is tops and a lovely place to hang out with mates .... and you couldn't wish for more helpful staff.

The Peak District is also known to offer especially good flying, all literally a short drive from the Gliding Club base ...... and you even get retrieved. Thanks Steve and Steve. What more could you ask for a measely £75 - unbeatable value.


Thanks also to Gareth (straightman), Laurie (comedian) and Viv (on drums) ..... not forgetting all the extra's they brought in .... David, Mark, Judith etc


The following is my own log of just the tasks. Although titled as task 1,2 and 3, I didn't attend the Isle of Wight round so are really 3,4 and 5 on the overall results sheet.

Action packed days at the BPC
Passing south of Sheffield; approaching base at 5300'

4/8/2014  Bradwell:


Task 1


We had a good forecast, but too much wind from a tasking point of view for much of the day. Although more experienced pilots flew it was deemed to be a waiting game.  The sky looked very good and base was around 5500' later, so maybe the wait was a blessing in some ways.


Eventually, when the wind dropped. about 4pm (to  light) a task was set to a goal 28k downwind via a start gate in front of the hill. Getting high and away looked like it could be tough and for some it was, a few visited the bottom landing field. The fortunate amongst us hung in through the scratching and odd slope landing to eventually climb out and for once being light on my wing proved a boon. Matt Bayliss, Lawrie Noctor and I were away together and until we passed Curbar Edge things went OK. In fact for me especially well, as I was able to sit above the competition; I float really well on the M6 being underweight by some  margin.  Approaching Sheffield I  reached 5300', but it was slow.  Never think it's in the bag!  I knew I only needed one more half climb and was pretty confident of hitting something, even though it would be on a glide into the blue. Up to this point there had been decent clouds to follow. With Lawrie 600' below me I set off into the blue with the confidence of height and hopeful of a bouyant glide. I tried watching Laurie below and just behind me, but lost sight of him - mistake! My glide continued with never a blip ..... right to the ground. Shortly after Lawrie appeared overhead - not high, but slowly circling in drift mode.  Five minutes later Adam Ladd appeared ...... lower still and not quite able to get that last weak anything to make goal.


Not a long task, but good fun in light, late thermals and calling for a catchy monkey approach - later, after 6pm Lester Gordon (goal virgin) and Richard Whiteside made goal.  Others were scattered around the Hope Valley and less fortunate than us lucky few. I settled for 5th but with a nagging feeling I'd blown a pole position with my over confidence and impetuosity. It would come back to haunt me again the next day.

5/8/2014  Rushup Edge:


Task 2


It looked like it could be blown out so we were not that hopeful - however, it showed what was possible if you give it a go. The forecast seemed to give us a window of about 3 hrs before the base lowered, the wind increased further and rain arrived. After an early briefing at 8am we found ourselves on an already breezy Rushup, tasked and ready to go by 9:30. The task looked interesting, with a start gate to the west before heading back along the ridge, passing Mam Tor to Loose Hill then crossing over the back into Edale for two more turnpoints and a goal. I liked the task - it looked interesting and suited me down to the ground. Yes ..... I would blast this whilst others may struggle given the wind. 


Did I mention impetuosity? I was off and away so fast, tagging the start and returning past take off towards Mam and Loose Hill whilst others were still kicking the dust off their harnesses. Follow me folks. I took the long route, worried about rotor on the low crossing of Edale. Aproaching the second turnpoint others, led by Simon Blake were streaming across Edale on a more direct route - I watched and waited for the collapses - but nothing happened. Maybe I was too cautious. So together we all bounced our way around the course, rarely smooth but always manageable. Not long after landing in goal and counting points, someone just mentioned that I  ...... err ... jumped the start gun! Sure enough - for the second time in a year I jumped the clock in my rush to race ..... and it wasn't even a race task. I must wise up to this mistake.


Still, as they say, it's the flying that counts .... and the flying was good. Despite the forecast we even had a decent sky, some early thermals and the wind was a bit lighter over Edale.  Yes .... it was a bit bouncy and being light on the wing was something of a rollercoaster ride. In fact I didn't get the camera out ..... wish I had now as all those gliders made quite a spectacle over the Edale and Hope valley's.


So .... I botched this task and got min distance points. No complaints just dumber than dumb. Malin put his championship's experience to good use and blitzed the task in a very quick 38 minutes! Lawrie was out of the game today with other commitments, so only one of the cats played whilst he was away.

Task 3
Climbing out to base behind take off.

7/8/2014 Bradwell:


Task 3


The day had a great rasp, unfortunately it  migrated 80 miles north and left us with a tougher day than we expected. We arrived at take off to find  extensive cloudcover and the odd light shower upwind ..... there were hints of it breaking but it was taking its time. However, this is the UK and a lot can happen in a few hours.


Based on a better forecast than we got, the task was a cool 86k, a bit of a dogleg via a turnpoint north of Newark. Malin and I had a half formed plan to try to stick together, but that would depend on us getting away in the same climb - which didn't seem easy given the weak, well interspersed thermals. After an hour of frustration I landed for a rethink and cleared my tracklog. Within five minutes the hill switched on and I was off again. The lift was much stronger, the air felt better and by good fortune Malin and I tagged the start cylinder at about the same time and were climbing away. Good when  a plan comes together.


Base remained stubbornly low (3500') and the going was slow and cagey. Before reaching Curbar many had fallen by the wayside and the few I saw on Curbar were struggling. Completely stripped on my impetousity I held back and hung onto every foot of height ..... Malin had the courage of the young and pushed ahead, gradually losing height. Over the radio I heard Lawrie was down near Hathersage. With nothing happening on Curbar I took a really big chance whilst I still had some height to play with - and headed over the back. I'd seen a Mentor  try it, circle a few times then head back forward ..... the ground sloped away, it would be a slow one, but there was a good cloud that had to be feeding from someplace - and this looked as good as any.


Great when things work out .... I very slowly climbed and edged towards the cloud. Approaching Chesterfield I was getting low again so before committing to the crossing I sought a climb that I didn't expect. It took me over the city, until without great height gain, it departed as quickly as it came. On the far side I was looking at landing options - had decided on one and 700'  above it was sat hoping for lift off from the edge of the built up areas. Wow! Lucky twice ..... a weak, gentle climb allowed a few hundred feet to be gained, then it strengthened and even though drifting the wrong way it was a beauty. Game on again!  I headed over Bolsover to the old, landscaped pit workings (?) and a raised bank that I thought looked the ideal trigger. Theory often doesn't manifest in practice, but this time it did .... along with a lone circling buzzard. Together we soared up, the climb-rate increasing to concerning levels (what am I under?). This sure was a big black one .... and downwind looked dark and fully shaded. As I approached  base it was glasses off time to make it look less threatening - without the courage of a fellow pilot .... and even the buzzard had slunk away ..... so did I. Half bar and downwind at zero. Five minutes later I felt rather stupid and cowardly. Ahead I spotted first one - then two more gliders, fairly high and where I suddenly wanted to be.  The ground was shaded with little hint of sun so this time I wasn't too optimistic. It proved well founded and I found myself landing in Church Warsop for about 42k.


Someone always seems to pull a good flight out ...... this time it was Viv Fouracre. Her tracklog shows we were quite close at a similar time but I never saw her. A pity - I think a small gaggle would have seen us through the tougher sections more easily. Anyhow ...... 2nd for the day made up for the other two nearly-man efforts.


Well Done to Lawrie Noctor for winning the 2014 BPC. Well deserved and obviously a man to watch :) Also to Lester and Viv ...... both flew well and especially  great to see the beaming smile on Lester's face - it may still be there. That's what the BPC is all about.



VIDEO LINK​                                                                         Overall BPC results


15/8/2014   Pendle:


Arrived to flat calm and not much  hope of flying.  Chatted for a while, met a couple from Calgary on a house swop; heard on the grapevine the flat calm of Parlick now seemed to have got on the fresh side. Walked up to the top take off - wind on the hill and nicely soarable. Had  about 40 minutes of decent flying, but the wind was increasing and there was shower activity to the north. Landed chatted some more and drove home through heavy rain. Not  a bad sneaked in session.

Flying south towards Walley.

19/8/2014 Pendle:


I rarely fly here. although it's fairly handy - now second time in a week.


John Hamlett (first time on Pendle) and I thought it worth a look - it generally seems to stay clear of the extensive cloud that often builds over the Dales. We arrived to a light to moderate wind that was well off to the NW. Later it would swing more westerly and the whole ridge - 6k of it, then  worked well. A short hop across the valley to the main face - land, and walk up and round for 10 minutes and away again. With a few top landings I then had about four hours airtime - gradually the sun broke through and the thermals got going to a base around 3500'. A little earlier Phil Colbert had gone over the back, but I prefered a nice boat about and a few pushes out front; Clitheroe was possible. My final flight got me well to the south - the sun was out, the air bouyant and it was turning into a stunning evening so I went for Walley before heading back up the main road.


A really good day out and a chance to play with the video camera on the monopole.

Crossing the M6

20/8/14  Clough Head:


Walked up with the two Geoff's and Kev on a perfect Clough Head day. Lovely sky opening up and the wind allowed a low take off and was the lightish side of moderate and square onto the hill. Lots of people out and some  already heading south.

The climb out was quick and easy,  within 15 minutes I was at base and meeting up with Ben who was already waiting there. We quickly established we had no plan and Ben had no radio ..... although many were heading off on the usual route down the ridge,  the sky and the approaching SB offered less chance that way to we decided over the back was better as the base was getting towards 5000' and the day deserved better. So we set off for the Dales.

Having no radio coms caused a problem immediately as we simply couldn't work it together, two free spirits - soon Ben was heading off towards Pooley Bridge and looking a bit low (despite a big cloud that way) .... whilst  I slowly edged directly towards Loadpot maintaining and hoping a good looking cloud would work just beyond Place Fell. It did .... and I was soon back at base and looking at a decent cloud beyond Haweswater. I studied a big, black cloud to the north near Barton and wondered how Ben had fared in that direction - I had seen him start to climb again from low - a faint dot in the distance. I didn't know it, but I have a feeling,  as I later found out, that  he got well hoovered into that as he reached 5900'.

I got uncomfortably low - or it felt that way, just past Haweswater - but the weak broken lift improved and got me into the lower clouds at 5200' but the main base did seem a few hundred feet higher - some sort of SB effect encroaching from the north. It was rapidly over developing from the south and cutting off options as the ground was becoming  devoid of all, but small patches of sun. 


In the distance I again caught sight of Ben ..... working weak lift beyond Tebay and fairly low, maybe 1500' over the sunless ground. I had intended to stay more north over the higher ground, but better to be with mates - especially if they are circling. We joined up and circled in broken lift that never seemed to quite establish and strengthen. Ben being a little higher then headed off for the Howgills and dark cloud cover - I wasn't convinced and the though of Howgill suck over the back rather put me off so I stayed drifting east down the valley and hoping something would blossom and get me to a beckoning Mallerstang - that became the holy grail. 


It didn't happen and beyond Ravenstonedale I was down. Ben fared a little better and a weak bit of a climb off the edge of Cautley got him into the Mallerstang valley, but too low to get on the edge. 


An enjoyable day out just a pity the good sky closed down and shortened a potentially really long day.

The bus pass worked a treat all the way (from the landing field) to the Travellers Rest in Grasmere where Geoff C had brought my van. Thanks - easy, peasy. :)



Barton Fell - having got back again from High Street. Mike Mason laid out extreme left above bracken.

22/8/2014  Barton Fell:


Barton looked the obvious candidate and on arrival the wind and the sky looked promising. Two pilots were already at take off as I began the walk up so I thought I'd have some company. However, both soared easily for 10 minutes and then inexplicably flew down to land in the middle of the moors - not sure why. So .... back to being on my own again.


I took off on the lower shoulder in a light, but soarable breeze and crossed south onto the crags. The pattern was soon set for the day as a strong climb got me to near base and allowed an easy tag of my start cylinder (although I hadn't declared). My plan was to fly down to the south end of Troutbeck and back, about 19k, but there was too much north in the wind - in fact as I set off for Rampsgill Head I wasn't sure I'd make it back.


Good, but rough climbs got me as far as High Street, but the northerly drift was still very evident as I started slowly back to Rampsgill.  The first half of the return was slow and occasionally rough, but it then became apparent the wind had swung more west. For a while I contemplated turning and heading back to try for Troutbeck. I knew I could get there easily enough, but wasn't sure about getting back. So ...... I carried on with what I had in the bag. By this stages the climbs were strong in patches and bouncy as hell - in fact so abundant was the lift I ploughed through some as turning was a bit if a lottery. (In, out, in, out - shake it all about).


Once in front of Barton again I spied an odd wing laid out - but it looked like it was quite windy. A good climb out front and I crossd the lake, thinking of the options towards Glenridding but the wind put paid to that. Once I knew I had a flat triangle I headed back with lots of height and missed a good chance to stretch it north. From this point on it became a battle to get down - even under a 100' over the landing it was stilling lifting like crazy and a bit rough to boot. It took a while, but eventually I landed - it felt like a strong wind approach ... but without  much wind. 


Anyhow ...... I got something out out the day when in retrospect quite a bit more was on. Once having closed my triangle and under a pulling street, I did consider setting off downwind but couldn't be bothered with another retrieve this week.

Crossing over Ullswater to Watermillock.
Clough Head

23/8/2014  Clough Head


Lovely day ..... hard edged thermals (in fact all week they have felt like early Spring thermals).


Flew for about 3 hrs .... didn't want to go over the back; or down the ridge - in fact out front was the only thing that interested me and I couldn't make head nor tail of it whatever line I took.  It could be done OK though as Mark and Phil showed.  Just not in the groove today.


The highlight of the day was Ali greeting me with a pint (Peroni even) at the Pheasant later. And I though he was the Tinman ...... I take it all back :)

Phil demo flying a Delta 2 - very well too.
Mentor man Mark - another getting too good.
Thermalling on west side of VoY with Richard Cardwell

24/8/2014   Wether Fell


A great forecast and out with the coaching group and coaches. I should have stayed on the hill and done my duty, but I simply couldn't resist the selfish urge to go over the back. I did toy with whether I should or not - but maybe I didn't toy long enough.


Anyway .................


An enjoyable flight, marred only by meeting the sea breeze 8k from the east coast near Guisborough. Things weren't too difficult up to that point and as usual getting out of the Dales was a bit harder than the rest of the flight. I got stuck for 10 minutes in front of Pen Hill/West Burton and watched two glider climbing out in front of me and others pushing on low and hoping. Patience was rewarded as I was soon joining the climbers and heading for base. One dashed off. but the other Richard Cardwell stuck with me and together we thermalled into the VoY. Approaching Leeming ATZ I was going to head round the south side, Richard went north - he seemed to be doing better than me so I about turned and set off to the north side. From this point on we lost each other as I was a thermal behind.


Needing a thermal approaching Northallerton - I again found a slow climb off the sheds and climbed away with the North Yorks moors in sight (beautifully clothed in purple heather) and various circling sailplanes. Getting low again near the junction of the A19/A172 - infact looking for landing fields, I found another weak climb. Like all climbs it started weak and took some hunting down before sniffing out the core, then I was away in a solid 4 up. Oddly, base seemed 1000' lower here than the Dales and ahead the sea breeze was lower again and very obvious - so the coast and a sandy landing looked unlikely. I headed on in light sink and a sky that had shaded over - passing Stokesley (which had been my goal, but not expecting to leave the hill I hadn't declared!). As I passed over the lovely Roseberry Topping I met the sea breeze and by Guisborough my ground speed had slowed to around 20mph - and the lower I got the worse it got. Eventually, I turned back west to landing near what I felt would be a decent hitching point.


A really enjoyable flight and I can't complain, but it would have been nice to have made that final 8K to the coast. A very quick hitch to Thirsk station with an ageing rock n roller and many thanks to Sara who drove out to collect hubby Pete and I.


Video Stills Link

28/8/2014   Murton Pike


Pleasant morning with a light to moderate wind on walk up - only about 15 minutes, as a low take off possible. I thought I'd have a re familiarise flight on the UCross before Ager. As I laid out I saw the Lakes were clouded in with evidence of showers. The encroaching front rapidly cut off the sun and the showers out front were not far away. I managed a short flight before quickly having to land to avoid the first drops of rain. 


This brought a soggy end to August which, for the most part, wasn't a bad flying month.

31/8/2014   Murton Pike:


Actually it had another stunning day left. Back to Murton .... lovely sky, modest base, light and thermic. Declared 42k O&R to Masts.

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© Ed Cleasby