Sunday, 6 September 2015

Ager World Cup 2015 - Task 3 - Flying again!!

We had a looong slow morning to wait out the soaked earth and ground level cloudbase.  

During this time of aimless milling around the world cup pasted ozone's complaint on the notice board followed by DHV's denial and re-test statement.  For those of you unfamiliar with the latest storm in a tea-spoon, I will summarise it for you (or for the parody go to my previous predictive post):  

1. We have a new class of competition glider called CCC
2. Ozone test pilots went and tested another manufacturer's glider because they could not match it's performance (said so themselves)
3. Ozone then claimed foul play and spammed the entire world of paragliding (CIVL, PWCA, DHV)
4. DHV re-tested and denied the existence of a problem and in a letter to CIVL Harry Buntz said they planned no further action (this is the closest you will get to DHV actually showing the finger IMHO).
5. Just about the entire field of bored and agitated competitors groaned a collective groan of despair: "here we go again!".  This is goat-herding at its very best!

By then the cloudbase had lifted and all pilots instantly forgot the manufacturers squabble (I'm coining it man-squabble because if women were running the show this kind of cr@p wouldn't happen).

Pilots are funny like that.  We grumble intensely until it is flyable and then we are in fine form.  It's like herding ill tempered cats who are easily distracted by squirrels:

The task was worthy of the rain and para-waiting.  It featured a dabble out front, a gamble over the back, and a grovel to the east.  Seventy odd kilometers later about half the field got in spread evenly.  

Saturday, 5 September 2015

DHV Responds to certification problem claim

No sooner had the ink 'dried' on my previous post and DHV replied!

Certification News

It has been alleged that the boomerang 10 does not conform to the CIVL CCC standard.

Ozone test pilots have given the PWCA video of their failed attempts to apply the 25% brake on full bar test on the Boom 10.

Without going into the detail,  respect to Ozone for handling their observations with infinite tact.  This is a master class in how to throw rocks without appearing to be the aggressor while saving the planet at the same time :)

I can't wait to hear what CIVL, DHV & Gin Gliders have to say on the matter.

It just occured to me: do three liners pass that test? 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Paragliding World Cup - Ager, Spain - Cancelled Day... Wings over troubled water

We went up to launch today after several delays.  
We went to the briefings several times to be informed of delays.
We went down the hill after the last delay.

The thing about no-fly days is that idle pilots breed contempt.  

It has been a very long time since there was significant controversy in paragliding.  Ok, not that long, but months of relative peace are better than constant bickering right? Normally we would say that is a good thing.  Sadly that is an Ostrich's outlook, because trouble has never really been that far away since the END of Open Class.  The inevitable trouble has reared its fugly head with the CCC (pronounced with a stuttered K'K'K' as in KaKaKa - or lots of doodoo if you're having trouble keeping up).

Rumour has it that certain characters (of a rare gas variety) have been lurking in the shadows seeking an opportunity to take revenge on those left shining after a lets-try-forget-it-and-move-on episode of terrible tarnish.  

A terrible conspiracy is about to break!  Beware the truth will be revealed and the precious ring of supremacy will be regained!  It brings to mind images of the fatally flawed character Gollum plotting against the lovable Frodo in Lord of the Rings.

Aside: It so happens that I am a huge fan of Tolkien.  The only thing that kept me sane in the ten weeks of basic training of my dubious military career was good old John Ronald Reuen Tolkien and his trilogy.  You might say that Tolkien Reuened me (hehe) because I spend much of my life categorising people as a casting director for Lord of the Rings might.  

Back to my point:  It seems allegations of skullduggery between parachute manufacturers are imminent.  

We look forward to a spectacle of world cup class witch-hunting Black Adder Style:

For those of you who can't be bothered with innuendo and intrigue I can only offer this to give you insight into what world cup pilots get up to when given too much time (compliments of François Ragolski with Pal Takis):


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Paragliding World Cup - Ager, Spain - August 2015

It has been almost ten years since I was last in Ager.  I attended a British Open competition on a Boomerang 4.  It was particularly memorable on account of the fact that Fernanda and Sebastian were with me.  Sebastian took his first steps at the age of ten months on the grass of the campsite that is the venue for the headquarters.  I always said I would come back to this magical place, and now the world cup has delivered on that wish!

The view from the road on the way to Ager

Àger is a municipality in the comarca of the Noguera in Catalonia, Spain.  It is a picturesque little village of around three hundred inhabitants.  Catalans speak Catalan which evolved from Vulgar Latin around the eastern Pyrenees in the 9th century (wikipedia).  This is no reflection on the residents who are warm and friendly to the world-cup-horde who have temporarily swelled their population by a third.  

If you ask them they will tell you they are Catalans as opposed to Spaniards.  It is supposedly the same farther north in the Basque country.

Ager village with glorious ridge behind (looking north)

It is dry and hot.  
They grow olives here.  
It is good to go to countries where they grow olives if you are an olive connoisseur or a paragliding pilot.  

This basic olive growing requirement has ensured a high fly-to-drinking-in-the-rain ratio since it was applied to my comp regime.  Simply put (i.e. according to wikipedia) olives are grown in Mediterranean regions of of the world.  The Mediterranean climate is characterized by warm to hot, dry summers which is why it is good for paragliding.  A dry Mediterranean summer is defined as having less than 30mm of rain per month.  I call it the Oracle of Olives.

As in all things there is the yin/yang thang.  If Olives be the yin in Spain, then the yang is the Competitive Paragliding Curse.  The harbinger of the improbable with the power to terminate drought and flood alike! There are many examples on several continents. Some will recall the floods in Manilla, Australia during the 2005 world championships.  Many more will remember Baixo Guandu in Brazil more recently.  The comp was moved to Govenador Valadares because of severe flooding that made it impossible to travel to Baixo by road.

It came as no surprise then that the Comp Curse has had a go at the Oracle of Olives:
The cold front arrived abruptly, as forecast.  
The twenty knot winds announced the front amid crackling thunder and splintering door slams, as forecast.  
The 6.5mm of rain briefly lashed our quaint little village in fretful angled sheets, as forecast.
The entire field cursed the curse, as expected.

All is not lost as the Oracle has intervened staving off disaster.  The result: lady Olive has delivered three consecutive days of flying!  

The practice day was smokingly good.  Virile lift everywhere with light winds.  You could fly all day and into the night with the last pilots landing some time after 8pm.  

There was some pessimism about the front prior to the first task.  This was unfounded as we romped our way around the sixty something kilometer course in just under two hours.  The whole affair was kept in front of the ridge.  The task committee appeared to set the task so that we would not fly too close to the ridge for too long as has become habit at world cup events for some unknown reason.  

The day was not good enough to honour this cunning plan as we ended up really close and personal to the rocks and ridges for pretty much the entire race which saw nearly one hundred pilots into goal.  The first sixty pilots were separated by ten minutes or so which has also become the norm.

The second task really did look like it was in danger of being cancelled.  Not many were convinced with the cloud base well below launch height and significant wind expected.  Lo and behold a little task of forty kilometers was set in the front of the ridge.  It required a launch above cloud base with some ducking and diving to get down through the gaps to below cloud-base in order start the race.  

Waiting for a task above cloud-base

The start was a little messy with multi-level clouds forming and dissipating while one hundred men and women tried to avoid one-another in the misty wisps.  Nearly another hundred pilots made goal with the victor taking less than an hour.  This time, only six minutes separated the first sixty pilots.

The result of two small tasks? The first thirty pilots are separated by one hundred points on the overall rankings:

It may not be epic yet, but at least we are flying!