Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sneak Peek at the Chili 4

As mentioned in my last post, it's too snowy to get to launch...unless you're up for a good hike of course.  Since I'm battling a nagging winter cough that option is out of the question for now, so I'm going to have to peek at my new paraglider here inside my house.

First impressions - the new inner bag is amazing!  Instead of the usual bag with an opening and drawstring up top, you can zip down both sides to expand the bag. This will definitely replace my accordion packing bag on hike and fly adventures, and maybe even day-to-day flying. It almost looks like a stuff-n-go type bag but without the awkwardness of trying to carry one of those for more than a few steps.

New Skywalk inner bag - sides unzipped

Skywalk inner bag - all zipped up 
View from the top (newly designed outer backpack to the left)

Skywalk also redesigned their outer backpack - it's sleeker than previous versions with nice fat easy-pull zippers, an outer bungee to slide your jacket in when you get hot hiking up to launch, plus a small pouch on the hip strap to stash your keys or phone.

But back to the goodies inside the bag! Riser bag, bandana/neck gaiter/whatchamacallit, manual and piece of white repair tape are included standard with each wing.

Swag is always awesome!

I pulled out the risers from my Skywalk Cayenne 4 (EN-C, 2012) to compare to the Chili 4 (EN-B).  In 4 years glider development has come a long way - there's almost no difference now between my "old" EN-C and the new EN-B (see photo below).  Both have skinny risers and skinny lines (one extra on each riser for the B wing) but at this first quick glance they look really similar.

Skywalk Cayenne 4 on the left, Skywalk Chili 4 on the right.

And even with the extra line on each riser, the wing weighs .1 kg less overall than my Cayenne of the same size. The only physical change I can see on the risers is the black plastic tabs in the quick links were replaced with rubber O rings, plus the big ears tabs have been removed.  

Close up of the Skywalk Chili 4 riser

They also switched to snaps for the brake handles - personally I prefer magnets but guess I can live with the change! They also have a cool loop on the rear risers instead of a pulley for the brake line to thread through to keep everything clean and organized.

Same as photo above - Cayenne 4 on left, new Chili 4 on right.

You can see the brake line itself is even thinner than my "racier" wing...I seriously can't wait to try this Chili 4 out!

I'm not really comparing apples to apples here, but with the huge improvements in EN B gliders these days I'm guessing that I'm not going to notice a whole lot of difference in the air to my 4-year old EN C when I finally get a chance to go fly this new beauty.  Hoping Santa brings some warm weather to melt the snow on the road to launch so we can drive at least most of the way up, and some clear skies and perfect winds to go with it!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Skywalk Chili "4" Christmas


                                              Christmas came a few days early this year!

Skywalk Paragliders have been working on their new Chili 4 ("high" EN B) over the last year or so, testing and modifying and testing again until it met their exacting standards. To find the perfect balance between safety and performance meant having patience as they modified designs until they were satisfied.

I eagerly read each of our Team Pilot updates - this was my new baby in production after all! Knowing the delay meant a better wing made the wait worth it...that and the miserable weather we seemed to have here almost every weekend this season.

On Thursday December 8th the email came from Skywalk - the XS Chili 4 would be ready for shipping early next week! Sure enough, UPS tracking showed my glider ready for pick up from Skywalk's warehouse in Germany on Tuesday morning. By Thursday it was sitting in Richmond, BC - merely an hour's drive away from me - waiting to clear customs.  As usual, the customs agents took their own sweet time and didn't release it until Friday afternoon, which meant no delivery until Monday.  Who cares if it was snowing and the wind was gusting over 30 km/hr...I wanted my wing!

So, I now have a perfect new paraglider sitting under my Christmas tree waiting for a sunny day and the energy to hike up to one of our local launches (that whole snow thing means no driving up to the take-off any time soon).

I did peek inside since there weren't any signs saying "Do Not Open till Christmas". I don't think I'll be missing much "stepping down" from my 4 year old EN C. By the look of the risers that I carefully wiggled out of the magically folded glider (so I could actually fold it back up factory-style), it's obvious that EN B wings have come a long way.

Another post coming soon with some first impressions and pictures from my sneak peek in the (wicked new) bag!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Canadian Paragliding Nationals Wrap Up

The Canadian Paragliding Nationals 2016 is a wrap! Sorry for the delay in posting but I was almost out of data and no wifi nearby, so waited until I got home-sweet-home. 

Thursday had looked like the best flying day in the long-range forecast, but the weather just wasn't on our side this comp. It was another sub-100 point day, and of all the competitors only five pilots got above launch and one local amazed us all by making it most of the way along the course line. 

Thursday night it poured, and Friday morning was no better.  We called off the rest of the meet as Saturday's forecast was even more grim, and the award party was moved to Friday afternoon since people wanted to head home early if they couldn't fly. 

Friday was not looking promising

But...we got a fancy awards ceremony held at Les Petits Cailloux winery (owned by a local pilot at the base of Mount Yamaska)...complimentary glasses of rosé were flowing and every pilot (and volunteer too) got at least 2 prizes donated by a bunch of different sponsors.  Gorgeous wooden trophies sculpted by Patrick (another local pilot) were given out to overall and Canadian champions. 

After 3 very difficult, light and scratchy tasks, the champions were announced.

Local pilot and Meet Organizer Christian Grenier is our 2016 Canadian National Champion! Jimmy pulled in last minute in 2nd and a mystery pilot who did not want publicity in 3rd (some stories are better told in person tee hee). 

 Jimmy, Christian and ???

Fellow Skywalk pilots and friends Jacques Blanchet and Daniel Egerman won 2nd and 1st place respectively in the sport class (go team!) on their Cayenne 5 gliders with local pilot Guy Leblanc in 3rd, and I took home the trophy for Top Female. George loved competing at his first event and met his own personal goals and we're already making plans to do it again.

Jacques, Daniel (with future pg star) and Guy - winners in the EN C class

Despite the uncooperative weather, it was a fun week and the closest thing to summer camp as an adult that I've found - you make tons of new friends, learn new skills, are a little nervous on the first day but can't wait to go back! 

Gorgeous trophies and souvenir wine Tshirt. Everything made it home safely!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Day Four, Task 2

After sitting on launch for 5 hours...we flew! The winds finally backed off enough for us to all launch safely, but it was still more wind than I'm used to flying in back home. We were at a small, tight launch which made taking off a little tricky but all those hours of kiting paid off and both George & I had great take-offs. 

                  Waiting to launch

Yesterday's top flight was only worth 130 points for the top pilot (out of a possible 1000) so we were hoping for a better day to make up some points. Today's conditions were also challenging - windy and no one could get very high - so once again no one made goal and the top pilot got just over 200 today. 

I made the entry start cylinder today which was upwind from launch and then flew about halfway to the next point, but when I saw pilots descending vertically I decided to veer off into the landing zone at HQ which was just a couple of fields away. I saw another pilot landing across the river and thought about flying over to join him as it was further along the course line, but due to the scoring parameters we ended up with the same points at the end of the day. It ended up being a much nicer landing field so a good decision after all.  Most fields are full of crops right now - corn, wheat and soya - and we've been asked to try to land on the roads between crops (for obvious reasons) so there have been some pretty entertaining landing stories about avoiding those fields so far!

Tomorrow still looks great so we're on track for 3 or even 4 tasks this comp. Woot woot!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day Three, Task One (Tuesday)

Boooo! Totally choked when flying today and landed in about 9 minutes (launch is only at 300 meters so if you don't find something right away you're kind of hooped). I did have a good launch and safe landing (blah blah blah) but it got me thinking - every comp I've been to I've landed at the bail out on the first task and then gotten better throughout the competition with my best flight in the last day. Hoping to continue the trend and get a redemption flight later this week!

At least my lunch snack didn't involve prunes like some unlucky pilot got in their grab bag on launch today (ha ha Jacques):

Drove back to HQ in the van of shame with a few other unfortunate souls. Good news is that George launched just before me and managed to get up! This was his first task at his first comp and he was so stoked to fly well today. A lot of happy pilots around HQ tonight!

Day 3 Katja twin moth biplane 

Day Two Monday

No task for today but they announced it early so pilots could free fly if they wanted to try before it blew out. It seemed possible when we arrived on launch and watched a couple of mini wings playing in the lift band. Then some locals and pilots on higher performance wings took off and when they got parked above launch we threw our gear back in the truck and drove down. 

We drove into Granby with Andrew & Hammer for a surprisingly healthy lunch at (so hard to find when you're on the road!) at Presse Cafe and made it back to HQ just in time for the talk that James Bradley put on about competition flying. With a small group everyone could ask questions and other experienced comp pilots happily jumped in with answers and entertaining stories from past events. 

One more round of pilots went up to launch around 7 hoping for an evening flight but I didn't feel like driving up & back down again (it still seemed windy to me). Sure enough they found too much wind at launch & had to come back.

In the meantime our host Jacques buzzed launch and the LZ in his ultralight (after contacting us to make sure that no one was flying) and gave us a little show before flying off into the sunset. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Day one - Sunday

The weather system that stopped us from flying yesterday was still hanging around this morning. We were hoping for a quick flight before the bad weather moved in, but when we got to launch and finished setting up our gear the sky already looked like this:

And pretty soon it looked like this:

And when we drove down and got back to HQ it looks like this:

So we were ok with the call to cancel today's task and are all eager for Tuesday to roll around which looks like the first task-able day (although if we're really lucky it could be tomorrow!). 

Looking on the bright side it was nice to have a "dress rehearsal" - we took the chance to set up our kits on launch and make sure we had enough batteries and lanyards for our instruments and all that good stuff. 

The task committee came up with a short task in case we could fly before the storm came, so we dug out our gps units to see if we remembered how to input everything. I haven't entered a task into my Flytec 6020 since my last comp which was here in 2013 (!) and forgot how simple it was - there's a setting called "competition route" so I just had to input information as the different fields were highlighted for me. I knew there was a reason I got one! 

After the rain passed through, a bunch of us took Jimmy up on his offer of a BBQ back at his motel. His teriyaki/sriracha chicken and George's veggies steamed with oranges, raspberry and basil were big hits, topped only by the tall tales that escalated as the night went on. Hoping we'll have some new flying stories to talk about tomorrow evening!