For those of you not up to speed on paragliding current affairs, read this:
The paragliding world cup super final is intended to be the ultimate competition whereby all the top in-form pilots in the world along with various 'legends' get together for an extended event to determine the world cup champion. Pilots qualified during the 2011 season by finishing in the top ten or fifteen places in any of the qualifying world cup events or by winning a pre-world cup. In addition every ex-world cup, ex-world or European champion is invited along with a handful of other notable pilots.
We have two SA pilots present. RusselA qualified in Colombia last year and I qualified in Porterville in December.
The paragliding world was cast into a sea of confusion after a world class blunder by the FAI last year when 'they' banned open class gliders from cat1 competitions and issued a strong advisory to cat2 comp organisers to do the same. Almost every NAC around the globe decided to uphold the ban and the world cup association followed suit after much deliberation. The result? Glider manufacturers scrambled to produce certified versions of the awesome open class gliders that have been developed in the last few years. At least four Manufacturers produced two-line EN D certified gliders in time for this super final. This has not been without controversy with the testing houses downing tools after the veteran test pilot, Alain Zoller, ended up in hospital testing a new-age serial wing (rumored to be one of the Valic brothers' new offerings under their '777' brand).
Ozone and Niviuk came up with a medium and Gin produced S,M & L. Swing also has a glider. It is probably too early to determine which Glider is best, but it seems they are all similar. Some would have you believe the Ozone has best glide, the Gin best climb and Niviuk best speed. In truth Valle is a tricky place to fly so minor differences in equipment performance will be negated by conditions and decision making.
I happen to be on the Niviuk. After two days of flying in the convergence at full speed and cranking it up in boisterous 6m/s thermals I think the glider is sweet and not too far off in performance to my beloved R11 albeit significantly slower at the top end.
Valle is famous for booming consistent conditions and it is expected that we will fly every day. The rules allow for a rest day after five consecutive tasks so we will have a maximum of ten days. The rules also specify that one task can be dropped every three days but not on the last last two days. This means we will drop two or three tasks (not really sure exactly how it is going to be done, but something called FTV will be employed which achieves discards but progressively on a day to day basis).
The safety briefing was especially entertaining... We were told that the 'G-Spot' is a turbulent place where a rescue team is strategically placed for our safety.
Official practice day is on Tuesday. I am flying on a Niviuk team with two French pilots Jeremie Lager and Lucas Bernadine.