Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Competition Time!

With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celcius all week, it looks like summer has finally decided to show up and stay for a while!

Last weekend I got to fly a couple of tandems and enjoy the fact I was getting too much sun. With the Canadian Nationals fast approaching and my plane ticket booked, it's time I re-acclimatize to a lot of things - flying, spending a whole day outside in the sun without eating...the usual paragliding kind of day that I've missed out on most of this season. It felt great. 

People keep asking how we train for paragliding competitions, and there's no simple answer. Even at the World Cup level you have pilots who work full-time and only get to fly a few times per year (usually only at competitions) that are flying wingtip-to-wingtip with pilots who fly nearly every day. A combination of skill and luck determines who goes home with the trophy each time, but regardless of your standings everyone agrees that you learn more in a week of flying at a comp than a year of flying on your own. The win is a nice touch, but it really is one of those instances where you are richer just for the experience.

I'm getting really excited now and counting down the days til I leave, and thought I'd take a moment to talk about my sponsors. I've been fortunate enough to be a Team Pilot for Skywalk Paragliders for the last few years.  It's great to be part of a team and have that support, and since I believe in their products and flying philosophy it's easy to talk about their gear and promote them in return.

I was hoping to be on a new glider for the Nationals, but the wing I'm waiting on is still finishing up in the testing process.  Going back to the philosophy of Skywalk they believe in producing the best and safest products possible, and if that means delaying the release of a glider to tweak a few more things instead of releasing it when it's "good enough", then I'm happy to wait a little longer. Besides, I'm not too upset to stay on my current wing since the Cayenne 4 helped me bring home the trophy the last time I went to the Nationals!  

The Cayenne 4 has been such a good wing to me that I've already been experiencing separation anxiety at the thought of having to sell her.  This was my first Skywalk wing and the one that brought me so many firsts - first top landing at my home site (Woodside), first trophy I've won (Canadian Nationals 2013), first flight at a National Park (Jasper 2015) and first photoshoot for Red Bull…well, kind of.  A friend of mine was working in promotions for Red Bull Canada and was submitting a project to apply for a different position.  She asked to take pictures of me paragliding, and it was the first time I flew "for the camera" rather than simply searching the sky for thermals, wherever they may be.  It was an amazing experience but unfortunately her laptop was stolen along with the memory card and we never got to see the finished product.  However it did show me the versatility of the glider - I had to do tons of flybys and try to maintain the same altitude to get the shots just right. My Cayenne seemed to fly effortlessly and find the lift on it's own as I talked on the radio with my photographer in trying to get the right angles.  That experience came in handy later when I flew my Skywalk Join't (tandem wing) for a commercial project - same idea but this time trying to stay out of the shot as my photographer filmed the action beside us in the air.

But, with new advances every year in the flying scene it's time to get a new paraglider!  So until it's ready I'll keep flying my pretty purple wing.  And in the meantime I'll be running outside to check for the UPS truck every 5 minutes tomorrow afternoon as there is a parcel of Skywalk goodies arriving just in the nick of time to come to Quebec with me. Thank you Skywalk!

ps If you are looking to buy a new or used wing, send a note via my website and I'll put you in touch with my boyfriend George, who just happens to be the local Skywalk dealer.  Did I mention I love everything Skywalk?

My trusty Skywalk Cayenne 4, coming to the Nationals with me again!