Last Friday a big cardboard box arrived at my office. A quick peak inside confirmed it was what I was hoping it would be – the only Sigma 8 29 in the country! Fantastic, I thought, I’m going to be the first person in the UK to fly one! I cycled the two miles and 500′ ascent home with it on my back (fortunately it’s 1kg lighter than the S7) and locked it in my car ready for Saturday.
Saturday dawned bright but possibly a bit on the breezy side, but I couldn’t not go flying. However I did chuck my MTB in the boot so that I had a plan B. Arriving at Mere at about 1015 it definitely felt too strong, but I waited on my own for half an hour before deciding to head off for a quick ride.
However my planned 12 mile bike ride was cut short after Al Davies sent me a text from the hill saying that the wind had dropped, so I headed back as fast as I could, only to find that the wind was still pretty strong…
But as you can see it did drop off and I had a very pleasant 20 minute flight on it before landing to let Al have a go.
So that was Saturday… What about Sunday? Well, Nick Somerville and I arrived at Batcombe at about 1130, but it was definitely too windy, so armed with thick gloves we assisted James Lynch and his petrol strimmer with a bit of take-off clearing. At about 1300 James decided he’d had enough gardening and decided to give it a go, and in fact he got off pretty easily.
Right, my turn now – the S8 came up very nicely even in the fairly strong breeze and I was off… After about ten minutes James went over the back at about 1000′ for a short xc, but as the sky didn’t look great downwind I decided to stay on the hill, just enjoying this great glider.
For the next hour or so I was on my own – on one else fancied taking off – but I was blatting round the sky like a gud’un. The S8 certainly has a great turn of speed and great glide when on half or more bar, definitely feeling faster than my S7. It was very solid too – I felt happy using the full speed range, something which I rarely did on the S7. The bar is much lighter than the S7, making it easier to fly at faster speeds.
It was really nice to thermal, and despite being 1 sq m smaller than my S7 I’m pretty sure no one out-climbed me (once people eventually took off). It turns very precisely and I’d say has slightly less brake pressure than the S7.
Overall I really liked it  and I was very sorry to have to pack it up again and ship it to Carlo on Monday. My S7 is a great glider, but the S8 offers significant improvements in useable speed (and top speed), bar pressure, weight and overall “fun factor”.
 Update: I’d like to say I liked it so much I bought the company (if only :-)), but instead I’ll have to settle with “I liked it so much I’ve ordered one!” Roll on the end of April!