Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Zillertal Open 2009

My first paragliding competition! A bit nervous obviously, mainly because of the start gaggles; the thought of 100+ pilots flying aggressively close together did give me some concern ... Wagga and Nicky both very successful comp pilots (British team) gave me lots of tips and dispelled a few of the nerves I had. Although it was just a local Austrian League comp it was attended by most of the Austrian Team and had a few of the big names there. It was a two task race-to-goal comp on two successive days.

Interestingly I found the race starts not too stressful. Obviously we were all competent pilots and although the flying was close and aggressive everybody was observant and predictable.

The first task was extremely frustating for me as my new Flytec 6030 all singing and dancing comp vario died on me and I was forced to use my backup GPS which I've never bothered to learn to navigate with (duh). So I attempted to learn how to use it mid flight with lots of traffic around me wearing thick gloves, not ideal! It wasn't very successful and I ended up following other pilots around the sky most of the time. This strategy worked some of the time until I flew a few kilometers too far past a turn point to a free flying pilot that wasn't in the comp! The acronym RTFM comes to mind 'Read The Fxxxxxg Manual'. The good news is I did the task and got in to goal, the not so good news is that I went over the goal line in orbit 2000m above the valley floor over an hour after the winner got in! I sheepishly handed in my instrument in the download area and sneaked out before the laughing started. You live an learn.

The second task was much harder and a lot fewer pilots got in to goal, so the fact I only got half way around didn't bother me too much and I got a reasonable amount of distance points. I did however stay up in to the night learning how to use my GPS. I also was keen to fly faster and so pushed on low not taking climbs to their maximum and using a lot of speed bar. Not really the best strategy for the day. Again you live and learn.

Anyway although I only came 37th I did learn heaps about comp flying and am really keen to do more.

Zillertal Open 2009 Results.

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