4th Place At The Exclusive Cup 2014

The Exclusive Cup is a fun competition event held in Gloucestershire, and this was my 2nd time competing (last time in 2011). The weather looked great for the weekend so I was looking forward to trying to compete properly this time.
During the delayed briefing in Berkeley on the Friday evening, there were rumbles of thunder in the distance. This obviously made our decision for us, soon followed a heavy downpour of rain! Saturday morning was a little more stable, but winds being slightly high. For those unfamiliar with competition ballooning, the idea is to fly to a pre determined location where a cross will be spread out for you to throw markers as close to the centre as possible, other tasks include following particular balloons, and distance competitions.
Saturday morning’s task was to fly towards a cross that been put at the local gliding club. Unfortunately the winds were not in our favour and no-one managed to steer towards the cross. Another task for Saturday morning was a furthest distance flight, however, we had to stay on map number 162. I thought I would try my hand at this as we had a good speed (25 knots) and a good direction too. Unfortunately, just as I was coming to the edge of the map, I saw an area of pigs that meant I had to fly over at 1000 feet, meaning that I would miss the edge of the map and fly onto the next one. Ah well, I carried on and enjoyed the rest of the flight anyway!
Saturday evening’s flight was cancelled due to local thunderstorms again, however every balloon was spread out and ready to inflate before we heard a rumble of thunder. This commenced the speed packing away competition!
Sunday morning was a wonderful flight, and the competition was a hare & hounds. This involves following a particular balloon until it lands, and the pilot will then lay out a cross for the other pilots to throw their markers as close to the centre. This morning there were 2 hares, the first went up high and went far, the other just flew along the local countryside.
I went a bit higher than most and eventually caught up to the 2nd hare and I was right behind him just as he landed, and I managed to throw my marker just as they had finished unrolling the cross! I managed to score at around 7m to the centre of the cross. With this score, I actually managed to come overall in 4th place. I very much surprised myself at this success, and it has made me want to try a bit more of the competition side of the flying. You may well see me at a National event or a GP one too.
Many thanks to the ever wonderful crew, without whom I am unable to fly.

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