Today dawned cloudy and very windy after an incredible night of thunderstorms with lightening that lit up the whole sky, thunder that rumbled through the airbed, and rain and wind that tilted the tent over sideways.
As usual, we were woken by the horn from the Boulanger Van which drives around the campsite every morning at 06:50 and rather rudely wakes us all up. I do however get up each morning at this time in order to buy my bread, just like a true Parisian! Michael has taken a particular liking to the Pain au chocolate and croissants that are made fresh daily.
We decided to rig the Cirrus just ahead of the rain and then went along to the 10:30 briefing. A triangular task of 209 km was set. We waited for the last of the incoming togs to land and then placed the Cirrus on the grid – we were the first out on the grid today, not surprising really looking at the windy and overcast skies. Today I was on the second row at the back of the grid, behind the 18m Class and the open Class, then at the back of the Feminine Nationals, so I knew it would be a while before I was launched even once they started.
Eventually the call came over the airband radio that one of the classes was scrubbed (Open Class) and that they’d be re-briefing the task for the 18m Class. A short while later, they re-briefed us on the front of the grid; this time we received an Assigned Area Task with a minimum time of 1:30 hours.
It was a late start and I was launched at 15:30, but I had great difficulty in getting sufficient height in order to be able to go through the start line, and frustratingly, I could hear all the other GB ladies starting. Eventually, 45 minutes later, I gave up and landed for a re-light. The sky looked better and this time I was able to climb and to make a start at 16:45.
I headed up a cloud street behind a couple of other gliders and had what I thought was a reasonable run, until I turned in lift and then saw Issoudun airfield not that far away – the wind was so strong I was struggling into wind to gain any distance at all. I continued on and on, had a couple of low spots and eventually found myself working carefully along a cloud street towards the Western area, I only needed to clip inside the area, then I could turn downwind and rapidly make it to the second area, then home. But no matter how hard I tried, maybe I chose the wrong route, maybe I’m not used to the performance of the Cirrus, but I couldn’t get myself into the zone. I lost more height and along with a Libelle nearby, found myself in a small thermal, struggling at 1000ft as I watched the Libelle land in a field. I had already picked my field but I was determined to get away if at all possible. I was so low, I was literally flying around some kind of mast or aerial. Eventually the lift picked up and I climbed to 1500ft and headed into wind. Down at 800ft now, I found another area of lift and started to climb, but the drift across the ground was ridiculous and I decided I was being stupid to continue to try and decided to land instead.
The field was a stubble field and I flew over wires and standing crop in order to get low enough to touch down early in the field as there were telegraph poles across the field. I touched down and rolled to a stop – it was a little bumpy and stoney, but it wasn’t a problem. I was however bitterly disappointed as I’d heard the rest of the GB women getting home.
I walked around the field to try and find the entrance and after a short while, a white van stopped and a Frenchman asked me if everything was OK. I tried in my school-girl French to explain that I’d landed my glider in a field, that I was OK and that my crew was on its way, however, gliding, planes, landouts in fields etc. were words that were not a part of the teaching I received at school and I resorted to good old fashioned pen and paper in the end to explain my predicament. Eventually, as I continued my walk around the field, I came across two entrances over the ditch that surrounded the whole field, made a note of them and returned to the glider. I gave Jennifer a call on the way back to talk about my situation and she informed me that Andy Murray was in the process of being beaten by Federa at Wimbledon. Two minutes later and she texted me to say that Murray had lost.
After an hour and a half had past, Steve and Michael arrived with the trailer and we de-rigged and finally arrived back at Issoudun at 21:30. I learnt on the way that one of the female Libelle pilots had crashed her glider on the edge of the airfield in an attempt to get back to site, and she had been rushed by ambulance to hospital.