Friday, 8 July 2011
Part of me is delighted because now the Paragliding World Cup will continue the tradition that Frankie Brown spelled out for us today: 'fourteen years of world cup hosting five events a year and one fatality.'. Perhaps the problem lies with the authorities and not the equipment. And yes, perhaps the exclusivity of world cup is appropriate.
On the other hand as long as badge collecting remains a national passtime each batch of wannabe legends such as ourselves will sustain the bloated FAI whale that wallows in the sea of our CIVL subservience feeding on the plankton of our national pride.
See you soon in a thermal nearby from your ever faithful servant and proudly South African national team pilot.
Looking on the bright side…. Uhm… well… ummm… ahhh… uhm! Ok, moving along then: perhaps if we all fly seven hours a day (every day) we really will be safer. Local sales of catheter/condom pee-tube thingies and adult incontinence nappies will spike.
The reality is that we will never fly these elegantly beautiful two line racing machines in FAI competitions ever again and the World Cup will grow in strength and continue as the premier body for high performance paragliding by individuals.
One suggestion that has emerged is to send the FAI delegation home and let Steve Ham run a comp for the World Cup as a memorial to Francisco, Eitel and Xavier.
Thursday, 7 July 2011
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
It was a relatively straight forward down wind dash complicated by an awkwardly positioned exit start gate that had most of the field stuck in no-mans land over the pass with ten minutes to go and no-where to wait in the relentless westerly. The day was further complicated by no-fly zones and height restrictions along the course in the second half. The start put a fair few on the ground and airspace navigation issues will cause tears because around thirty or so pilots who made goal received zeros for their efforts on account of infringements. I imagine there will be fireworks at the team leader briefing this morning with protests, complaints and appeals being the order of the day.
I have to say it is not that much fun trying to stay under 3,000m ASL on a booming day and avoiding little parcels of no-go-zones can be stressful and tedious. It's a real bummer that quality pilots like Torsten Siegel should be out so early.
Other notables who had less than a perfect day include: our viking mate Mads; Jack Brown from US (of Korea worldcup fame); Xevi Bonet who finished 10th in Mexico in his tenth world championship event; Elisa Houdry (defending female champion).
There is alot of flying to be done over the next 12 days so I guess it is too soon to make any predictions.
Launch is hectic with strong wind and human bowling balls dragging through take-off on every second launch attempt.
The leader boards:
Male: Charles Cazaux, Rafal Luckos, Neil Roberts
Female: Petra Silvova, Regula Strasser Strasser, Seiko Naville
Team: FRANCE, UK, USA,
SA team in 14th.
Sunday, 3 July 2011
Friday, 1 July 2011
Saturday, 22 January 2011
World cup rules dictate that a mximum of six tasks are flown which makes the last day a rest day.... hence a big task. The conditions were good so the first gaggle completed the task in three hours twenty. Almost a hundred pilots in goal with the smiling Dane called Marcus Malmquist got in first on the same wing that Mads had in Pville. Russel managed to hang onto the tail of the first wave securing a tenth place overall. I got in shortly after and finishing in the top half which was small consolation but better than the threat of hundredth earlier in the week.
Renata won ahead of Elisa and Keiko and Michael Siegel took it from Russel Ogden and PeterN.
All in all a great week of easy flying in a mellow, modest and friendly place. I would recommend it to anyone looking for good consistent easy flying.
Thursday, 20 January 2011
We start really early, so not much opportunity to update the blog. Sincere apologies to our thousands of blog disciples! At least I have good news! RusselA is hot, hot, hot and on fire staring at a top 10-15 place going into the last day. Russel followed up on his solid start with a top ten finish on a six hour 120km marathon on day two with Pepe getting the furthest just 800m short. Day three was a short affair of 55km which saw almost the entire field in goal in two and a half hours. A couple of stragglers bunched the points severely giving the top hundred pilots at least 700 points. Task four started fast and furious but was blocked by shadow and rain at the 90km point where the bulk of the field were condensed by the time they stopped the task.
Task five was set with two huge turn point cylinders at opposite ends of an out and return course giving pilots greater opportunity to choose a route. Both Russel and Andre finished in the top ten.
One day to go with Russel in the top fifteen and Andre clawing his way back into the top 50 (hopefully).
Last night was a festival involving St Sebastian in the catholic tradition. We were entertained by two hours of fireworks and a brass band playing some funky Colombian carnival style music.
Sunday, 16 January 2011
The day dawned heavy and ominous, the sky pregnant and bereft of promise. Or so it seemed to my jet lagged aching body rudely awakened while the entire field was ferried up the hill at an ungodly hour of 7:30. .. and then they set a 120km task (90km nett)!! A couple of red bull shots delivered by a ‘bull babe’ and accompanied by a spanglish speech extolling the wing giving ability of the toxic brew woke me up and in the mood for flying as the day rapidly improved. In summary if you were late earlier on you got spanked which punishment Andre received and Russel avoided pulling one out of the bag for team SA making goal with the 30 or so skygods. They start the day early because the launch is essentially in the lee of the ever present Sea Breeze which is briefly held back by local thermal activity until about mid-day where-after you get flushed if you’re dumb enough to be anywhere near the ridge. Provisional results Russel 29th and Andre 46th. Our favourite Brit, Russel Ogden probably took it if Mickey doesn’t steal it with lead out points. Nick, Josh, Pepe and a host of French along with some other usual suspects were all in. Then again I guess at these events almost all of the pilots could be considered ‘usual suspects’… such is the standard. Stephan Drouin managed to survive a 40m drop after hitting power lines which destroyed his glider. No other incidents as far as we know.
Russel’s experience: ‘Messed up the start, fixed the middle and survived to the end. Scratching skills now honed’.
Andre’s experience: ‘Stuffed up the start, messed up the middle and died in the end. Hiking skills now honed’.
All in all a wonderful day of flying with the rest of the week looking promising.
Quote of the (yester)day from Frankie Brown receiving massage from no less than FIVE pretty Colombian attendants: ‘I don’t think I can handle five, but I die trying’.
So Russel and I did the 36 hours with two big flights on the retro-fitted Iberian airline A340 (no personal tv on seat back) via Madrid to Perreira and finally Roldanillo arriving at 1 am local time totally broken.
Roldanillo is rustic and rural with our accomdation best described as functional is somewhat noisy. Nightclubs and street bars are the order the night, but at least Russel’s room has hot water (now that he knows that the little tap in the corner supplies the aforementioned). The practice day was a delight in the sense that there was no stress with an abundance of mild thermals and we ended up flying around for some hours. The landing field in town is a stadium of sorts. Hundreds of locals cheered the free flying field on landing which is a novel experience in our cinderella sport.