2012 Varsity Match

2012 - Cambridge 38 Oxford 16

Cambridge team: Malcolm Morgan (captain), Iain Butler, Fiona Llewellyn-Beard

Oxford team: Natasha Spottiswoode (captain), Chris Ballance, Joel Scott-Halkes

After a succession of abortive attempts at the Varsity Match (each one foiled by poor weather), we were very pleased to be able welcome members of Oxford University Gliding Club to Gransden Lodge on a cloudy Sunday late in the soaring season. Each Club fielded a team of three pilots of mixed ability, with one pre-solo pilot from each University competing in a two-seat glider under the watchful eye of an instructor. Owing to the weak soaring conditions, we agreed to use a variation of the standard rules: flights would score one point for each minute of flight after five minutes, and each pilot submits his best-scoring flight of the day towards the team total.

A passing rain shower delayed the first launch until eleven o'clock.

Chris Ballance (Oxford) and Iain Butler (Cambridge) completed check-flights with an instructor, obtaining clearance to fly solo in the two Junior single-seat gliders operated by Cambridge Gliding Centre. Early scoring was dominated by Malcolm Morgan of the Cambridge team who showed his experience by clocking up a flight of 31 hard-won minutes in the Junior, working hard at patchy, weak lift in difficult conditions that called for accurate flying and sharp decision-making.

This flight would prove to be decisive: it alone outscored the combined efforts of the Oxford team!

Natasha Spottiswoode and Joel Scott-Halkes posted scoring flights for Oxford, while Iain Butler took advantage of the rising air triggered by a combine harvester working in a nearby field to score secure a useful 13 minutes for Cambridge. Fiona Llewellyn-Beard, flying in a two-seat glider, also scored valuable points for the home side.

Conditions strengthened somewhat as the evening approached: Chris and Natasha took the opportunity to improve on their earlier scores, but it was not enough to close down the healthy Cambridge margin which was maintained until the cessation of flying. We hope to repeat the strong performance at next year's contest to be held at Bicester airfield, the home of OUGC.