Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Canadian Nationals: Saturday/Task 3 and wrap up

After all the non-flyable days, the last task just turned everything around.  I was finally able to put everything I learned together:

- I was ready early, so was able to launch earlier in the queue instead of at the end of the line.

- I worked every scrap of lift I could find (most times successfully) and even found a thermal for the lead gaggle right before start

- I made confident decisions instead of second-guessing myself

- Instead of trying to do it myself (classic only-child manoeuvre) I stuck with my gaggle, even when it was just 3 of us.

The result?  I flew well and ended up being awarded the Canadian Female National Champion title!

Looking back, this was a wonderful event where everything seemed to fall into place, from my boyfriend lending me his fancy-pants gps/vario (which I almost learned how to use) to being super lucky with retrieve and getting picked up within 15 minutes on each of my flights.

Pilots often talk about this sport being 90% mental and I think that played a really big part in me ending up with a trophy.  It's something I'm excited to learn more about - mental training, meditation, the whole "soft" skill set of this sport that I see a lot of the top pilots employing.

In the end, it was once again about the people.  Pilots were supportive of each other and each time someone launched you would hear "Bon Vol!" (Good Flight!).  Here's one of my favourite pictures that symbolizes the essence from the comp:  It's my direct "competitor" and I goofing around before task on the last day - the task that would see which of us would be awarded top female.  I don't see any you?  :)

This year it was my turn to win but I'm sure next time Julie competes she will fly away with the grand prize.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Canadian Nationals: Friday/The Real Task 2

Finally got to fly again!

We got to launch & were greeted by strong winds again, but our communal optimism somehow made the lulls just long enough to launch.  I saw one of the top pilots on a super fast wing launch and go backwards which just about made me cry with the thought we could get cancelled again, but everything worked out & we all got in the air...eventually.  Unfortunately I was one of the last to launch today due to "priority launching', which meant everyone launched in order based on their place in the comp.  Since I basically bombed out on the first task that put me at the the end of the line & I didn't even get in the air until after the task had started.

I ended up having a stellar launch though - a local instructor commented that is was fantastic "especially for a competition pilot" and the launch director said it was one of the 2 best launches of the day.  So...WIN!  ha.

Pretty sure I'm king of the world...until the sink monster gets me and I'm as low as those other dots in the photo!

The task was well made, I had so much fun today.  It was a zigzag in front of launch (4 turn points) then a downwind dash to goal.  I made the first 3 then got pinned in some wind.  It surprised me because Pascal had passed below me from the same turnpoint only minutes before and seemed to have no trouble going back, so I got a bit of waypoint fixation and dove in to TP3 without worrying about the way back.  Heading out to land on full bar to clear the orchards I hit a bump around 240 meters and took it back up to over 500, but I was still in the wind and after pushing bar I ended up back in almost the exact same place!

I landed in the triangle field at the top left of photo.  My low save came from the edge of the forest but took me back to pretty much where I am in this photo again.

I'm learning a lot this competition which is exactly what I expected.  Flying the flats is a new challenge, and while it kind of sucks competition-wise to feel I've flown really well for an hour and to only cover a few kms, I still earned a far greater reward with the knowledge I'm gaining here.  Hoping I can put it all together for the last task and get out over the real flats and chew some kilometres!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Canadian Nationals: Thursday/No Task

This was the day off we knew we'd have all week, so no surprise when the task was cancelled & the sky opened up shortly afterwards & rained most of the day.

10 of us headed into Montreal to eat (surprise) and play tourist.  We drove part-way in & got a day pass for the metro and explored that city til we all got back to our respective lodgings somewhere around 11.

We stopped to visit the Olympic Village, but it just wasn't as exciting as flying:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Canadian Nationals: Wednesday/No Task

Too windy again!  Arrggg!

Well we made the best of it and did 2 sessions of high-wind kiting.  I got a flight off the training hill and have video to prove it, but the camera footage is really shaky so not sure if it's worth posting.  It still looks like thunderstorms tomorrow (boooo!) but nice post-frontal flying Friday.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Canadian Nationals: Tuesday/no task

The task committee cancelled the day at our 10 am meeting, which was nice for the locals who could then go back home and also for visitors who wanted to go exploring.  A truckload of us went to launch anyway, but the winds quickly picked up and became quite cross which prevented anyone from wanting to take off.

Competition-wise, we probably won't get to fly until Friday and Saturday which both look fantastic according to the forecast.  That would make 3 valid tasks which is about right...competitions are generally a week long since about half of the days end up being "weather" days.  Still sucks to be on a flying holiday and not flying, so we decided to go kiting in the high winds at the landing field.  I practiced my kick-ass dragging technique - yeah baby! - this girl totally slid across the field on her face and got a few souvenirs.


But the most exciting thing was getting my nanovario!  Brian from Flyte Park sent one up to me from New York and it was delivered to the landing zone today.  Can't wait to try it out, it's insanely small and looks really cool:

so tiny!  love it already.

I love these little Flyte Park instruments for my tandem flying and just in general for a backup.  I end up leaving them on my helmet so I'm never looking for batteries at take off when my big vario dies or when I left my big vario at home by accident.  Yay for cool new toys!

So after all that excitement, Eric the comp organizer threw a corn roast for us - a fun evening of corn shucking followed of course by corn eating.  I should be heavy enough from my culinary experiences to fly in even stronger conditions soon (food=ballast).  Quebec offers too many delicious eats and willpower here is futile.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Canadian Nationals: Monday/Task 2

The winds seemed manageable when we went up the mountain today, and we got to go to the west launch which is a lot nicer than the south (i.e. big enough to lay out 3 gliders at once).  But after the first few gliders took off with incredibly exciting launches the task was cancelled.  The safety committee received a round of applause for the decision, and we were left to our own devices for the rest of the day.

After an afternoon of swimming at our motel, a group of us went into town in search of poutine and bowling.  Both bowling alleys were closed (which was fine since they both seemed kinda dodgy) so we ended up at a restaurant where I had my first "sugar pie".  Just like it sounds's made of maple sugar, and cream, and brown sugar, and...sorry...where was I?  Oh yeah, I got to eat a SLICE OF HEAVEN and then we went next door to play pool.

Everything was going fine until a "discussion" of the rules broke out between Fred & Elie,  and when their conversation quickly switched from English to French we ended up having to call in the protest committee.  Luckily all was resolved without having to file paperwork or the $20 protest fee, hee hee.

We did actually have members of the task, safety and protest committee present.
Pool will never be the same.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Canadian Nationals Day 1/Task 1

Spoiler alert! I didn't make goal today. But neither did anybody but Brett (our top rated Canadian pilot), so I don't feel so bad :)

At our 9 am pilot meeting we were told it was unlikely we'd fly at all today with the 40 km/hr winds which were predicted. An eager task committee proposed a task anyway so up we went, hopeful that the wind forecast was wrong.

Task board in progress...

Due to the south winds we went to a different launch than yesterday, a small cliff with room for only a few well-timed steps before you reach the edge. The locals said strong winds were needed to use this launch, so the 25 km/hr winds that greeted us were nothing to be shy of. A 3 turn point task was called and the Boom 9's quickly took off. Us lesser beings watched with hesitation as even the top dogs seemed to be parked once in the sky!  As far as I know everyone ended up launching, so it was a good call on the task.

I only made the first turn point today and was pouting about it a bit after landing until I heard most of the other pilots landed before the 10 km mark too.  The apres-flying turned out to be the best part of the day as Frederic took us to his brother's pub right outside of Montreal and we sampled the amazing beer made on site.  Knowing the owner's brother has it's benefits and we got a tour & mini lesson on brewing, and after looking at the (even windier) forecast for tomorrow we decided to sample an extra beer or two.  We may not have had the best flying day, but I haven't laughed so hard that my face hurt in ages...thanks to friends old and new.

Private beer tour!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Nats: Practice Day

What do you do on a practice day?

If you're Martina, you practice misplacing your purse, aka leaving it on the side of the road as you run to catch the launch shuttle (luckily rescued by comp organizer).

If you're Andrew, you practice almost losing your cellphone out of the back of a madly careening launch shuttle (luckily caught before bouncing out).

Mostly though,  you meet new friends and get to fly a different site.  This one is a lot different than I'm used to, with launch at 380m (a height we hope to find a "low save" at back home).

My first launch took me above the mountain right away so I figured I could by-pass a couple of small thermals and just soar around...and I soon found myself on the ground.  Oops.  Although spot-landing between hang gliders setting up to get towed and a dozen other pilots caught in a flush cycle who were also ready to touch down was exciting...and hearing a "nice landing Madame!" was a fun cultural experience ;)  

Best quote of the day though was from local pilot Julie, "You must try the chocolate dipped ice cream cones at Chez Ben...they are the most structurally sound you'll ever have!".  And yes, yes indeed it was.  My friend & local tour guide Chris landed with me after flight #1 and we decided to take an ice cream break before heading up to launch in the 4pm shuttle.

Structurally sound (and obviously delicious) dark chocolate dipped cone.  

Flight #2 was amazing.  As soon as my feet left the ground I saw a gaggle of about 10 vultures & flew over to join them.  With their help I got up above launch, dug in and held on to tiny thermals and played around until it was time for the 6pm pilot meeting.  It was a challenging (in a good way) time in the air and I'm excited to see what the rest of the week has in store for us!

Looking back at Yamaska on flight #2 today

Friday, August 16, 2013

au revoir!

Here I am at the airport, waiting to board a flight to attend the Canadian Paragliding Nationals in Quebec.  This trip kind of snuck up on has been so busy over the last month that I'm glad everything was booked early and all I had to do today was show up at the airport!

I wasn't even sure if I'd get to take a trip at all this year but the universe is completely conspiring in my favour to get me there.  My manager at work (in my non-flying life) is really supportive of my paragliding and gave me the time off to compete.  When I tried to book my flight through Aeroplan points and the dates I wanted were blacked out, George gave me enough Air Miles points to book a return trip (thank you!).  The hotel I contacted gave me a discount since I'm competing (yay!) and my friend Chris who lives a few hours from the flying site is picking me up from the airport & staying at the same hotel so I have someone to show me around.  In a last minute twist, a couple who live close by the airport in Vancouver offered to let me stay with them last night & gave me a place leave my car for the week, saving lots of $$$ on airport parking (Thanks Foley & Sam!).

It will be my first time flying in the "flat lands" instead of the mountains so I'm looking forward to learning a lot, and by the list of registered pilots there aren't many other BC pilots attending so I'll be making new friends who share the same passion of soaring through the skies.

Thank you again to everyone for your support & good wishes and I look forward to sharing some fun stories here over the next week.

And...we're now boarding!!!