Paragliding in BC

Paragliding in BC

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!

Practice Day

We had an idea from looking at the weather forecast that Saturday (sign-in and practice day) would not be flyable. Sure enough on the drive to Headquarters we saw some incredible and massive cloud development. 

So after signing in and catching up with old friends, Jacques (the local Skywalk dealer) let me take his Tonic kiting. The Tonic is one of the few mini wings that has an EN rating and is still classified as a paraglider, but is still small enough to take out and play with in strong winds like we were experiencing. It was a great way to practice inflating and controlling a glider in winds that I wouldn't feel comfortable using my full size glider in, and tons of fun. Someone was snapping photos so if I get my hands on a copy I'll post the evidence. 

The winds weren't calming down so we decided to call it a day and do some microbrew testing instead. Fingers crossed for good weather for Day 1!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Countdown to the Paragliding Nationals!

Countdown to the Nats is on!

That means tying up loose ends at work, and the fun stuff like last night when I received my box of goodies from Skywalk paragliders! It was full of clothes and gear - some of which I ordered and some was new and shiny Team Pilot swag. I'm a mail junkie to start with (and am probably one of the last people alive to still have a pen pal), so parcels are like a letter x 1000 on my excitement scale. I'm kind of like a 5 year old on sugar when the delivery truck pulls up. 

So now the fun/not fun process of packing begins. I ordered a new glider bag which is super streamlined so will be lighter in my harness when flying and will take up way less room. It's also ergonomically designed for hiking, which I swear I'm going to get back into this fall. 

Anyway, since I mentioned I'm totally like a kid - wanna see my new stuff???

And here's the new glider bag with my whole kit in it - bulky pod (cocoon) harness and all:  

 3 more days!!!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Today was my summer vacation.  As grown-ups, I think a lot of us have to make any block of time off be our vacation time, whether it be a weekend, a day or even just an afternoon to go explore.  

My perfect day went like this: stay in bed till 9:30, make my morning coffee last for an hour and then pack up all my flying gear for the great flying day ahead! I had offered to show a few new-to-the-area pilots around, so at 1:30 my boyfriend happily loaded up his pickup with about a dozen eager pilots and up the mountain we went.

The day didn't look entirely promising - if you think in surfing terms it did not seem like a "big wave" kind of day.  More like a day with lots of paddling and a few mediocre waves.  But by the time we launched the day had switched on, and I bet there were 20 pilots in the sky within half an hour.  It was actually kind of aggressive - at times I felt like my paraglider was like a horse trying to get away from me and I had to pull hard on the reins to keep her in place.  And even being a rusty-ass pilot who's barely flown this year, I managed to stay up for over an hour and complete a fun little triangle on Leonardo (an online contest we upload our flights to).

When you have a day with rough spots of lift in the air, there are also lots of areas with sink, and when you watch the numbers on your altimeter drop, you want to find rising air as quickly as possible.  A few years ago I went searching online for a small audio-only vario (altimeter) to stick on my helmet, and after emailing a bunch of companies for information I chose the Nanovario by Flytepark. The customer service I received was outstanding, and personally I loved the uber-sensitivity of the little unit which saved my butt on a few flights!  So I approached the company to be their distributor here in Western Canada and have never regretted it. For me, customer service means as much to me as the actual product, and Flyte Park continually delivers top notch service. Their products are also made close to home in the USA which is a nice touch!  That's why I continue to sell their products and am thrilled to have them as a sponsor.  Thanks Flyte Park!

So at the end of the day when anyone asks me "What did you do on your summer vacation?", I'll definitely tell them tales from this awesome day - including making a bunch of new friends from around the world, having an extra glass of wine with the delicious BBQ my boyfriend cooked for us, and maybe even about the fact that I've been pretending I'm not leaving in 4 days for the Nationals and haven't even started packing yet!   #procrastinator

Flying back to the mountain after snooping around the valley