Friday, 1 October 2010

Super Final - Turkey - Day 10 task six

An 80km back and forward story was set. It started really well and then the majority picked up the discard at the halfway mark with only one pilot getting around the windy last turn point before rollicking on down wind to goal. Bottom line is that the other 99% of the field picked up the discard they were carrying before today and that has determined the ranking. In short the French champion, Stephan Drouin, has been the most consistent and is now leading from ValicA and Yann Martail. I am in 8th, Russel in the forties and Nevil in the seventies.

Many pilots are somewhat bitter that a system of discards designed to forgive the occasional landing associated with hardcore world cup racing has had the opposite effect of rewarding conservative consistency ala FAI Cat I style purely because of poor task setting. This was the third task set with nasty into-wind sections that have grounded the entire field prematurely. Whatever the case it's too late now to bemoan these things, but I suspect there will be some changes for the next super final. It's been a blast, let's see what tomorrow brings!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

World cup super final - day 7 task six

Lenticular Valley
 So we got onto the bus early to go to another launch 2hrs from Denizili. Awesome place! 1700m launch above a flat valley ringed by low hills forming a classic racing amphitheatre .

Quote from Tamaga Sensei Nick Greece (see pic): 'the village has laid the red carpet out to gladitorial pilots of the world cup. It was difficult to utilise our ozone samurai swords as we were progessing at the pedestrian pace of 3km/h into the 'moderate' breeze. The thermals terminating in alien lenticular form.'

Tamaga Sensei (Egg Master)

The debate on the radio was comical at best with the discard seekers calling level one (safe as a house) and the sane people shouting 'what part of 50km/h wave and lenticulars plus carnage on launch are you not getting?'.  One meet director, who shall remain anonymous, was overheard saying 'it is just a strong cycle' on launch one minute before cancelling the task. The village has pulled out all the stops to show us a good time laying on a great meal and entertainment.  A highlight of the evening was the turkish and fire dancing performed by one of the Russian pilots.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Super Final - Turkey - Day six task Five

More wind after a very relaxing rest day spent touring the Cleopatra mineral pool, the ancient ruins and Travertine pools of Pamukale.

 After some debate the task was revised to the NE goal some 60km away. 

We used the lower launch which proved to be really messy and side-on requiring multiple launch attempts from many pilots with the customary hoist-off-your-feet and flapping bundles of glider on launch.  A capped speed run was the order of the day, but in the end it was a bit of a cluster with four pilots managing to punch through the 40km/h cross-wind to goal and the rest spread over the course line with 35 or so in the last 10km before goal.  A long retrieve saw us home before 8pm.  This task turned into a discard for most pilots.

Super Final - Turkey - Day four task four

Another day of 10 - 15kt predicted wind so the task committee decided to test the hang gliding metaphor by setting a 107km task with half the distance into the wind.  The resulting glide test saw a third of the field landing within a couple of km of one another at the 60km mark with Alex Hoffer winning the day.  SA team still looking good.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Super Final - Turkey - Day three task three

Another howling gale and then a task just before sunset.  63km crosswind task starting at 16H00 ande then 120 pilots flew to goal with the winner finising in 1hr 23min!  Today is the first of two discard days so it will be very interesting to see the leader board.  Russel got in top 5, Nev landed short and I was a minute behind the main group.  Lead-out points will be interesting..

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Super Final - Turkey - Day two task two (Updated)

Sweet and Sour Turkey

A howling gale on launch had us all huddled around the chai pot muttering about how long before they would call it off.  Two hours later we launched and flew a 63km task in blistering pace of 41+km/h.  Freaky man!  I guess it was too much to ask given the luck of yesterday, but I was styling with 20km to go with a glide of 8 required and just when I was adding up the points I cascaded to a glide of 10 losing forty places (five minutes) on the lead nursing the glide through the last two turn points with absolutely no hope of a climb in the stable valley.  So here's the thing all ye Ozone owners... don't let go of the red things if you're goin' 60+ because the wing disappears and then tries to get rid of the rider when it re-appears. 

A massive cravat and two twists required three clumsy full stalls to eventually fix and unwind.  Another day which had almost one hundred pilots in goal with the first 50 separated by 6 minutes.  The strength of this field is absolutely mind boggling.  Any sub-optimal micro second of blunder is punished out of all proportion.  I am clinging onto 5th overall with a discard in hand should we get a third 1000 point task which is good news.  The whole discard thing is pretty cool because many of the pilots languishing in the eighties could be leading overnight if they can put a good task or two together in the coming days.

The day was won by Luc Armant on a dark blue Ozone proto which is reportedly stable @ 65+km/h.  Alex Hofer(Ozone) was in second with Taro Kobayashi(Gin) in third a few seconds behind.  Another 7 out ten 10 for Ozone with Gin looking strong and only the Valic brothers in the top 20 for Niviuk on the day.  The picture looks the same for the overall standings at the moment with a lot of flying to come! 

Superfinal Turkey taks 1 from broers philippe on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Super Final - Turkey - Day one task one (Updated)

The day dawned breezy and chaotic with the normal first day of organisors confusion amplified by over eager pilots. A 71km round-about RACE was set which saw the lead change once or twice. A personal blunder of laughable proportions after the start proved to be fortuitous at the crux which gave my lag gaggle of 5 chasing pilots an advantage shortly before the 15km final glide where we took a dusty to cloudbase and stuffed the bar into the stable valley and customary sea-breeze-into-wind finish. I took it by 12sec from NickG with the first 50 of 97 in goal within 10mins with Nev and Russel both in the top 60.. so a great day for the Africans! Still wonder if paragliding is a Game of chance sometimes. Whatever the case, I'll take it thank you.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Practice day..

All dressed up and no-where to fly. Sat on launch all day waiting for wind to come up the front. A few got off in the lee but did not look so good. A hand ful of test pilots were tying knots into their two line protos in the bushes which was comical. You can add axis and sol to the two line mix and we almost have a full compliment of 2 liners!
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Paragliding World Cup Super Final - Denizili - Unofficial Practice Day

The bus fetched us from our doorstep and took us to the top launch today which is around 1,500m+ ASL. The valley was heavily inverted far below. We eventually got off the gravel launch to climb to 3,000m+ which was where the second inversion ended. One or two guys reportedly got through that inversion to about 3,400mASL. With mellow thermals of around 2-3m/s everyone boated around until eventually going on an extended glide into the valley which was dead still. I have seldom flown in such laminar air so I took the opportunity to pull straps on the harness and figure out different trim/speed combinations. For those interested there is about 6-8km/h difference between trim extremes and the glider accelerates by 20-24 km/h at the ring stoppers with trims fully out. I never really believed it but now I see these ships really do get close to 70km/h flat out. More interesting was finding the best accelerated glide combinations which are not where I had assumed they were. The sink rate increases sharply beyond a certain point moving from -1.5m/s to -2.0m/s in an inch or two of travel on the speed bar or trimmer. All in all a great day of picturesque flying made all the better by landing behind the hotel and packing up on the marble tiles of a cavernous airconditioned anteroom.

Ozone vs the Protos

The mountain was abuzz with glider talk. Mac, Gin, Niviuk and Advance all have two-liners here in numbers and Torsten arrived with a Swing hot off the production line. Chirp of the day (heard on the bus ride up the hill): "Gin is making a better R10 than Niviuk". This raised a chuckle or two, but the truth is everyone is excited at the prospect of new and improved gliders being showcased at this event. No-one I spoke to really knows what wings Russel and Luc have brought to defend their title with. Consensus opinion seems to be that it will be pretty good whatever it is (doh!). Luc was walking around the launch handing out new UV protected AR1 & 2 lines to all Ozone pilots which I thought was pretty cool given that my main lines would probably have been up for renewal after this comp.

Paragliding World Cup Super Final - Denizili

Another Epic competition looms in the form of the super final. This is where every former world cup champion and all 'legends' get wild cards along with the top fifteen of each qualifying event during the year. There are three SA pilots attending: Nevil, Russel and I. Russel qualified in Brasil and Nevil got a wild card on account of his world record and I qualified in the US in August. Nevil has been here for a week where he flew in the Russian open finishing second. We will pick his brain when we catch up with him.

The travelling proved to be a little tedious but after 32hours (JHB-DUBAI-IST-DEN) we finally arrived at the grand hotel Sevgi which is in the town of Pamukkale which means "cotton castle" in Turkish and is situated at the base of the mountain which features two launch areas (low + high). The cotton castle is framed by an amphitheater of pure white calcium carbonate precipitated out of the thermal springs over the last 14,000 years at a rate of 1mm per year. The ancient city of Hieropolis was built on top of this 'white castle' which is a Unesco World Heritage site. The calcium deposits harden into the sedimetary rock known as Travertine. Huge open air baths hold the super saturated hot water which gushes out of the rock at around 30degC. The entire complex is lit up at night which accompanied by the exotic sounds of turkish music and nocturnal fauna provided a novel backdrop to our first evening meal of spicy donna kebab and Efes beer.

The pools of Pamukkale

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Chelan - World cup

Day two
120km triangle. 3500m base with 8m/s thermals. Russel and I were with the lead gaggle that scored the first big climb that split the field at the 50km mark. The lead changed several times until the last leg where the lottery was in force. Josh took it from Russel Ogden by a few minutes. Russel in 8th Andre in 10th. Team SA lying second under the banner 'JPA' which is a world cup sponsor which we renamed 'Jungle Para Africa' (from the original 'Japan Para Assoc').
So both Russel and Andre are top ten after two days.
Theuns had the following to say about yesterday's task after surviving cravats and other interesting SIV creatures: 'daai een het mooi tieties... ach ek ek meen oogies'.

World cup - Chelan

The world cup circus is in town! The morning looked like it was totally blown out. We were watching the kite-boarding wondering if we could hire a sailboat for the day on the lake.
In the end we flew the fast and furious 94km task in just under two hours and five thermals. Russel and I were in with the lead group with Theuns in a while later. A fair start to the comp for the Sud Afrique contingent. No word from Chrissi yet.

Friday, 16 July 2010

US Nationals - Chelan Final Day

The final day dawned with many pilots feeling the effects of the epic triangle the day before. Some flew for more than six hours and many were recovered late (around 10pm).

Clear skies and the sight of dust devils kicking off in the distance early on made for high expectations of a great task.

A 60 km cross-down leg race was set, but the BIG problem was getting across the valley to the start. It was mayhem! Two thirds landed at minimum distance and the remaining few at goal. I managed to get in an hour after the leaders which would have spelt disaster for my podium hopes had it not been for the low validation. In the end Russel Ogden won convincingly from Jack Brown. Another 1-2-3 for Ozone as the dominance continues.

A good result all round for the South Africans with Chrissi finishing 3rd in the women, Marinus 3rd in the serial, yours truly 3rd in the Open Class and the honorary American camping with us 2nd in the serial class.

Two days rest and then some serious racing in the world cup….

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

US Nationals - Chelan Task 4

Another awesome day! Less wind gave us the opportunity to do a 104km triangle. With a lower base and variable local winds, it took a couple of gritty climbs in a dust devil or two to get to goal on time. All the same faces at goal with one exception in Josh who landed short.

US nationals Chelan

Day three - the day dawned frigid and breezy, before settling down with cu's popping horizon to horizon. They managed to set a 104km task despite the day looking like a 'hundred miler'. It would appear that people are concerned about the cost of recovery which blows my mind given that we had a rest day yesterday and the next few days should be suitable for triangles. Whatever the case, we lost the opportunity and subsequently creamed the course in just a couple of hours. Close to 50km/hr which should give you some idea of the epic conditions. All the usual suspects in goal first. I had a stressful day taking the start late and low on account of a launch line-over delay. Had to give it all to eventually catch the leaders at the 70km mark. Me thinks the lead-out points will hurt a little. All in all a freezing cold but great day's flying albeit tainted by the goal crash of a US pilot who took a pendulum and slammed in from 20m after a collapse of sorts. This was the same pilot who arrived short of goal under reserve on the first day. I suspect 30 or more made it in.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Chelan USA - US Nationals

So we got onto this big-ass airplane called an A380 which takes hours to load because there were almost 800 passengers. I am not sure how the thing actually gets airborne, but it did and then we were offered Poullet or Bouef which is somehow tastier than the Chicken or Beef option on other airlines. I guess it had something to do with the french accent and flashing false eye-lashes.
I was wondering how you get this 600 ton monster back on the ground when the pilot attempted to destroy the runway by arriving a little too hot. I happened to be watching my half of the 80m wing thinking "that's fast" and felt the desperate pull back and subsequent impact with the wing-tips flexing at least ten meters virtually scraping the runway. Even the french crew were showing huge white eyeballs which told me this was not normal operating procedure.
After visiting the local Wall-Mart for tents, camp cots, camp chairs and goose down pillows at bargain prices, we settled into the (strict) campsite next to lake Chelan with it's perfectly manicured lawns. We fell like squatters with our tiny little tents among the towering RV city. I have never seen such huge camping vehicles!
Practice Day
Any body interested in 6 up thermals marked by dusties and a 4000m cloudbase? Bring it on!!
What lovely introduction to flying in the US: A whole bunch of friendly twangy english speaking pilots and superb conditions for paragliding.
First Day - First Task
An 89km dog-leg-down-wind dash was set to the ENE. Fast, Fast, Fast with an average of 46km/h for our gaggle leading into goal in 1hr45mins. This task was a crowd pleaser if ever I saw one which was a good thing because:
Task 2 - was not a sensible affair with a similar 75km dog-leg with an extra double-back sting in the tail at the end which meant flying the last 12km into wind... sadly the wind was fierce in the 40km/h variety and it took an eight meter per second climb spawned by a whirly convention in a dusty wheat field to get three of us to cloudbase. With a glide of 2.4 required to make goal, we barely made it in flying at full speed barely making 15km/h ground speed. The task scored better than expected with Josh Cohn four points ahead of me with Jack Brown in about ten minutes later. Russel Ogden would have felt robbed as he had almost an hour on the rest of us but came up less than 1km short. I think this will place Josh, Russel, Jack and I close up in front with a small cushion over the rest of the field.
Today is blown-out and the tomorrow may be the same.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Chelan USA

Here we come America! Off to the states for the US nationals and World Cup back2back.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil: Task 6 & 7

In an act of comic desperation a group of us that included most of the world cup committee decided to woo the thermal gods by staging a roof-top garbage and trash party the night before the second last day. It was agreed that if we succeeded we would be awarded special bonus points. It was a noisy affair of at least four thousand mili-watts supplied by a mouse sized speaker compliments of Pepe Malecki and amplified atop a rubish bin and driven by 'DJ Red' Russel and his iPhone (we got trashed on the rooftop to sounds amplified by a garbage bin.... hence a garbage and trash party for those of you too slow to get it).

It turns out that at the bonus points were not needed by at least one of our club as Russel smoked the field and won the task the next day!!

Russel managed to follow up that performance on the final day to end up second on the podium. Not bad for a first time world cup attempt I'd say. Finally someone new has come through from SA and delivered a convincing result at the highest level.

My own flying was a sad affair of no launch on the first task and a comedy of errors on the second. I will just have to go to Greece, Spain, Italy, USA and/or Portugal to make amends I suppose. Rough life of a world cup pilot :-)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil: Task 5 Cancelled

The rush up the hill was a little muted this morning with updated predictions indicating stronger winds than yesterday.
The task was cancelled after we began the inevitable foot-vote which is so often the result of the mortal battle between transcendental reality and blind optimism.

I guess I should say a little about Pocos de Caldas which is a mid-size city in the Minas Gerais province. If you're really interested about the stats go here:

It is 'nice' enough, but it is hard to be positively subjective when there has been no flying.

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil: Glider Talk

The talk of new gliders and technology here seems to revolve around: the duration of Ozones' current advantage; and the protos from Gin, Niviuk & Mac. The casual consensus seems to be that Ozone is a minimum of 6 months ahead of any other manufacturer putting a production version of something competitive on the market (the failed PMA recommendation is widely interpreted as a confession by various players that they have no answer for the R10.2). After equilibrium is restored among the manufacturers the expectation is that the performance improvements will once again be minutely incremental as has been the case over the last 5 years with Aircross being the possible exception (again). Comp results around the world are confirming what we already know about Ozone, but the rest of the protos are all unknown given the absence of any objective data or opinions.

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil: Silly buggers

Watch the first few seconds of this video clip to see the crazy Belgian doing a Benny Hill style 'thing'



Wednesday, 7 April 2010

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil: Task 1 - 4

Did I mention it rains during the monsoon season?

The first three days were cancelled and the fourth dawned frigid and relatively dry. We finally went up the mountain in the howling gale and low base with great excitement and enthusiasm. A 55km downwind dash was set and cancelled after 40 or so pilots were pasted all over the sky like skinny post-it notes facing into the wind in perfect alignment at cloud-base.
Picture courtesy of Arnold Pansi
Several anxious calls of level three conditions along with the imminent probability of one or two luckless individuals getting blown over the back low prompted the decision to halt the proceedings. A little too hasty in my opinion, but maybe for the best. It was quite comical to see the new Ozone gliders ripping several individuals off of their feet. It seems new ground handling techniques are being developed with each attempt. Wind guru predicts lighter southerly winds for the rest of the week. Thankfully no rain has been predicted.

We live in hope!

Saturday, 3 April 2010

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil: Practice Day

Humid and overcast as Brasil always seems to be we arrived after an epic 24hrs of travelling.
It is great to have so many compatriots at a world cup after flying 'solo' for so many years. It feels like a world championship without any of the bother.
The hotel has broadband! We managed to catch the Dam-style cable car up to launch which in typical Brazilian style has a lush green carpet of freshly cut lawn defining the launch strip. Cloudy with drizzle and 25km/h wind up the vertical face.
Pictures courtesy of Arnold Pansi
The new glider is fast, flat and smoooth with a vicious launch that snatches you off your feet in strong wind. 2hrs 40mins of boating around in the light and windy conditions. Can't wait to try this machine in the comp.
It has been raining all day....

Friday, 19 March 2010

World Cup 2010: Pocos de Caldas - Brazil

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my R10.2L from Ozone in time for Pocos. It's a pity we couldn't get them for the local comp starting Sunday, but as long as it arrives for Brazil, I don't really mind.

There certainly has been a huge buzz of anticipation about this new machine. I have no doubt Brazil will reveal all things interesting.