Tuesday Tip: How tight should I turn in a thermal?

This tip is from Fifty Ways to Fly Better, the new book from Bruce Goldsmith


Photo: Jérôme Maupoint

You should bank as steeply as necessary to stay in the strongest part of the lift.

In general, inexperienced XC pilots do not bank steeply enough, and it is often possible to climb through gaggles – even in competitions – because pilots are not turning steeply enough to stay in the strongest part of the core all the way round a 360.

It often pays to crank the glider round steeply in the lower parts of the thermal where the core is particularly narrow. Bank angles of well over 30 degrees are entirely reasonable.

When you rise with the thermal and it becomes bigger and better structured, it may be possible to make flatter turns, but that rarely seems to provide any improvement in climb rate.

It always seems to be much more important to concentrate on finding the strongest core than to worry about bank angles.

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