Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Belgian Paragliding Open. Laragne, France 2011

Photo: Marko Väyrynen

Well last week we had the Belgian Paragliding Open in France in windy Laragne. Unfortunately we only had one task due to the Mistral conditions. The one task we did have was an ambitious 101km square task taking us over some of the breathtaking scenery of the Pic de Bure quite someway north of launch. Conditions were quite bumpy with strong thermals and a few inversion layers so I had the glider do a couple of funky things but sorted it out quickly. I had a great start and was leading for some of the way at the beginning but was caught by a few others and we formed our lead gaggle. Multiple choice of routes past the Pic de Burre towards the last turnpoint meant that we split up and went various ways. I chose the more direct line that had a large section of flat lands to traverse while others did a slightly longer but less risky route connecting a couple of ridges. Ultimately nobody got to goal as we were all hampered by a strong headwind under the inversion and the leaders all decked it at 85-90km. I landed at 86.7km but was quite quick and managed the third highest leadout points for the task. However some pilots managed a couple more kilometres and so I finished 10th out of 120+ pilots but was only 40 points shy of the winner (who got ~700 points). Due to the weather I was subsequently denied the chance to fight for a podium place.

I'm at the PreEuropeans now in St Andre, the first task is tomorrow so let's hope for some better weather.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

2011 British Open - St Jean de Montclar, France

Start Gaggle - Photo Andy Smart
Well it's been a while since I last posted - A lot of things like work and weather have been getting in the way of my flying this year - ho hum. But at the moment I'm enjoying myself and am in the middle of a 6 week flying trip. I'm a wandering paragliding bum living out of my new camper van and a third the way through doing three paragliding competitions: The last round of the British Champs in St Jean de Montclar, the Belgian open in Laragne and then finally the Pre-Europeans. All of them are in Southern France; I've just finished the British round and am now relaxing on the shores of Lake Como in Italy with family as I write this.

The ban on open class gliders seems to have really shaken things up a bit and I quite like the fact that punters like me flying ordinary serial gliders have a chance at winning these comps now. I'm flying my usual bad racing style and finished 3rd out of 150 pilots (and top Brit) for one of the two tasks - this is the second time now I've arrived over the goal field with no other gliders on the ground, it's a nice feeling! The other task I raced myself to the ground, not an unusual outcome ... I hope soon to find the balance between racing and gearing down with the aim of being fast and consistent. One thing for sure is I like to race - bimbling around the course isn't for me.

Lets see how the next two comps go - in the mean time I'll order another becks and read a couple more chapters of my book, not a bad life ..