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downwind not down field. They are inconsiderate of tree lines, fences or fields.
But not always !
Watch an eagle sometimes to get a frame of reference on how fast it drifts.
Sometimes though they drift sideways, and If your not paying attention you will be in sink
Find your self downwind, try coming back on a tack, not straight back. Odds are that immediately behind the thermal is the biggest sink hole, and you want to avoid that
Zig zag back, a series of tacks like a sailboat, you will also be able to see better what your plane is doing this way.