This tip is from Jonny Durand, interviewed about flying near big clouds in 50 Ways to Fly Better
With big clouds, when you are within 500m of cloudbase, evaluate the strength of the thermal, the size of the cloud and how far from the edge of the cloud you are.
If you notice that there is a big area of lift you should immediately head for the closest edge of the cloud.
If you find that you start sinking, then turn back to where the lift is, but make sure you know where to escape to if it becomes necessary.
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