New Toy

everyday September 6th, 2014

New Toy

New Toy

After spending quite some time & resources flying paragliders in competitions (well actually you have to sacrifice a lot to participate at the World Cup level), it’s good to know that it’s possibly to vary with other fun activities too. I recently got myself this beauty. Previously my attitude was “a bicycle is a bicycle” but after trying one of these carbon full suspension wonders, I’m sold. My new full suspension toy, Ghost AMR Lector 2995 E:I (German brand) has a carbon frame, full Shimano XTR, 29″ wheels, and a computer that controls the back suspension in real time. It measures riding conditions 10 times / second based on speed, how much the front fork is working and whether or not you’re pedaling. The result is a really smooth ride on bike trails here at Kongsberg’s woods. It climbs like a mountain goat, it’s almost a bit crazy. Combined with kitesurfing this bike will increase my exercise level significantly. :-)

I’ve been quite busy competing so far this year. After spending a month in Brazil (Superfinal) and Mexico for the World Cup in January/February, the Norwegian Cup started with a bang in May. To this date we have 11 valid tasks out of 17 potential ones around southern Norway. Still, there is one Norwegian round left with 3 more potential tasks. Currently I’m place 3rd overall. We had the Nordic Championships (combined with the Norwegian Nationals) in Spain in July. I placed in the top 5 overall and 3rd for the Norwegian Nationals. It was a fun event in Pedro Bernardo where most of the 100 participants got to fly 7 of the 7 potental tasks. To my surprise I realized I had 150 hours in 6 months and broke my previous record. There are other fun activities to try out too. I’ve been a lot on the water lately, kitesurfing. :-) It’s really addictive and you get more exercise than flying ;-)

I know I post way too seldom here, I think both Facebook and the flight log book are main culprits. Anyway, I’ll post an overview of the competitions I’ve attended this year. Also, during last year I’ve been manager of the Norwegian Paragliding Competition Committee (KKPGxc). This year, the Norwegian league got 0 (ZERO) tasks out of 10 possible in Norway due to bad weather. KKPGxc had to do something about it so we planned (with 30 days notice) to have a combined Norwegian and Swedish Cup together with the Swedes in northern Sweden. Although some pilots didn’t like the short notice, we would make the same decision again given the circumstances. In the end, only 6 Norwegians participated in the Swedish/Norwegian combined comp and hence, the Norwegian League 2013 podium looks like this:
1: Ole Jonny Rønneberg (Ozone Enzo)
2: John Bjørnback (Niviuk Icepeak 6)
3: Øyvin Nyjordet (Gradient Avax XC3)

World Cup, Erzincan, Turkey 31 August – 07 September
Erzincan is not a spot for entry level competitions. The conditions were very strong with cloudbase initially reaching 5000 meters. Nevertheless we had 5 tasks which were very challenging and interesting. Some of the tasks went over to a remote valley Northeast of Erzincan. This made for some interesting valley crossings. I felt that my perfomance during the competition was quite good and I think I can attribute that in part to a new, more aerodynamically efficient harness (Woody Valley X-Rated 6) together with my trusted Icepeak6 which really made a difference in these types of conditions. Very edgy thermals and small cores made the IP6 stand out in climbing abilities. All the pilots got free food and accomodation. The hotel and the food were quite impressive. I shared space with my friend Magnus E from Sweden and Juan Sebastian from Colombia. We had some nice debriefings after some local Raki… :-) Congratulations to Manuel Nuber (DEU) for 1st place! Overall I was 27th which I’m quite satisified with.

World Championships, Sopot, Bulgaria, 13-26 July
It was 2 great weeks together with the Norwegian team consisting of Jan-Richard, Einar, Ole Johnny, Bjørn and myself. We had all in all 5 tasks with 4 more potential ones that were cancelled due to strong north winds (the main takeoff faces south). The 3 first tasks were challenging with large areas of shadow. This made for some pretty tactical flying. The last 2 tasks saw booming conditions with cloudbase over 3000 meters. Ole Johnny was best Norwegian at 27th. I came in 2nd best Norwegian at 50th. A big congratulations to Jeremie Lager (FRA), 2013 World Champion.

Nordic Open in Vågå, Norway 8-15 June.
We had 5 nice tasks in which I won the 2nd one. The Norwegian King Harald’s goblet was at stake for the first price. Since paragliding competitions are all about self control (and a little bit balls and luck), I bombed out on the last 2 tasks because I pushed too hard. In addition, flying the Norwegian valleys is pretty different in terms of tactics than, say, Roldanillo, Macedonia, Piedrahita etc. In these places the flats often work better than the mountains. Not so in Norway. In Norway the mountains work best. Always. In terms of results I could do much better (I know!). A big congratulations to Rolf Dale (NOR) who became Nordic Champion (and Norwegian Champion) 2013!

2013 started with the World Cup Superfinal in Roldanillo – Colombia, 15-26 January
A total of three Norwegians were qualified (myself, Ole Johnny and Jan-Richard). Roldanillo is known as a pretty soft spot in terms of thermal strength, with pretty easy conditions. That was my experience as well, apart from the fire thermals which some pilots used (abused?) to gain altitude quicker (in fact, a lot quicker. Some pilots reported 20+ M/s inside the columns of smoke). I observed some of this flying and it didn’t look good. In fact, it looked like the gliders were twisted inside out. I flew as close as 20 meters from a smoke column and there was a lot of debris which could potentially still contain glow from the huge grass fires below. I didn’t opt to fly into it, it felt wrong on an intuitive level ;-). We had all in all 8 nice tasks, many over 100 km. In some tasks I flew in the lead gaggle all the way to goal which is always fun. The margin for error is very small. If you make a mistake and lose the lead gaggle you are most often left out for the rest of the race, especially with the current EN D gliders we fly at these events. After the comp, which put me at 53th as best Norwegian, me and Jan-Richard headed north to Medellin (a city with 2,3 million people) where we had a “magical” 50k flight to Santa Fe, northwest. Magical because of the terrain. Some pictures here. A big congratulations to Aaron Duragati (ITA) who became the 2012 World Cup Champion.

As most of my thoughts go into my electronic log book (see link above), and/or on facebook, I will just give a quick overview of the last competitions I attended.

European Championships, St Andre, 3. – 15. September:
I just got home after 2 weeks of racing the French Alps. We got 7 flying days of which 6 scored (one was cancelled before the start because of overdevelopment risk along the course). The flying was great, with some wonderful moments flying above alpine mountains, strong thermals on the right spots, and tricky valley winds that could blow north or south. In some situations, this could produce some challenging leeside flying. Especially the task we had to Digne and back was memorable, getting low on the way back and ridge soaring all the way up the mountain south of Digne… Also, very interesting final glides flying the main takeoff ridge low, back to goal. Interesting task setting with the End-of-Speed and Goal cylinders in the mountain side east of St Andre. Coming in low when the wind was from the south could produce some pretty dangerous leeside conditions. They finally put the goal over the takeoff instead, which was good. Overall, the Norwegian team got 11th with Kjell-Harald as best Norwegian at 30th. I got 76th which didn’t come as a surprise because I was a bit more cautios in this competition after the experience at the World Championship last year. Especially the start gaggles were often pretty agressive.
The best briefing we had was when the meet Director said: “As you can see, we have a problem with the winds at takeoff. The wind is too strong. And then there is a problem with the wind in the goal field. The valley wind is too strong. And then there is a problem with the air…. (everybody laughed). But don’tm worry, we’ll soon send out the wind dummies.” A big congratulations to 2012 European Champion Yassen Savov from Bulgaria

Paragliding World Cup Krushevo, Macedonia 04-11 August:
I can only say: Great flying, great scenerey, great people, great food, beautiful women and some pretty nice tasks. I’d like to refer to Macedonia as the “Valle de Bravo” of Europe. Especially cruising 3500 meters over the big flats where 3 of the 4 biggest cities in Macedonia are located… Congratulations to winner Olivier Michielsen (FRA).

Nordic Open, Ager, Spain 23-29 July:
Some very nice racing here. I did pretty well on many of the tasks including the last one which I won. Unfortunately, I ate something that made my stomach feel like it had knifes in it so I had to pass one day. Too bad, since a podium position was on the horizon… Overall, I would definately go back to Ager. :-) Congratulations to Juan Carlos Becerra (VEN) for taking the Nordic Open away from the scandinavians. ;-)

The World Cup concluded with a 80 km race to goal southeast. The conditions were very racy with good climbs above the inversion layer at 1200. The trick to fly fast was to stay above the inversion layer. Most pilots landed in goal. Know where the inversion layers are, and stay above them. When conditions are weak, stay a little back in the pack. :-) Congratulations to winner Yann Martail (FRA)! :-)

Yesterday a 93 km race to goal task was set, but soon it was apparent that the wind enroute to the first turnpoint was becoming dangerously strong. I landed in a 40 km/h wind. No scoring for this task.
Some pilots asked the meet director by radio if landing on the Chaves airfield was allowed. The first reply was negative but soon a special permit was given to land there.

Today no task was set because of lack of thermals (strong inversion layer). PWC dinner tonight. Hopefully we’ll have a final task tomorrow. Cheers!

A 61 km task was set at Chaves (1,5 hours by bus from Montalegre). Cancelled for safety reasons (too much wind).

Task 2 Monday was a short 57 km race in the local area. The conditions were weak with low thermal tops, several inversion layers and broken thermals. Only 12 people in goal and winner was Luc Armant. Task 3 Tuesday was a different world. The racing conditions were epic and a 100 km race to goal task was set. Climbs up to 3000+ meters (with several pilots violating the altitude limit of 2950 meters. They got a 10 point punishment for each meter of airspace violation), climbs up to 5 m/s (average) and very tactical flying. I was in goal in top 10 today I think (good feeling). I actually landed ON the physical line (had to elevate my feet to get over the goal line). That’s a close call! :-)

Today we had a 89 km race to goal downwind from Montalegre, passed Chaves and to goal southeast of Montalegre. After a lot of parawaiting on takeoff, window open was set at 1430 and air start at 1545. Conditions were somewhat weak with several inversion layers. Max altitude today was approx. 1800-1900 m. A lot of pilots in goal today, 84 in all. Sometimes, flying slower is faster. I was in the lead together with 3 other pilots including Luc Armant for the first 60 km. Racing in conditions like we had today, it can pay off to step a little back in the lead pack and observe what’s going on. 18 km from goal I got stuck for 30 minutes ridge soaring together with Andre Rainsford. Only seconds separated the top 20 positions. Winner today was Aaron Durogati flying his Boomerang X. After a long retrieve, we came back to HQ at 2230. The scorekeepers were out for dinner but eventually all pilots got to deliver their GPS tracklogs. New day tomorrow with perhaps a more technical task.

It all started in Brazil in March, where I spent 2 weeks in Castelo, Espirito Santo for the PWC. The scenery from above is like being in a different world and racing over it is even more fantastic. We had 3 valid tasks featuring weak to normal conditions. See pictures and the World Cup event page. Overall winner was France’s Yann Martail, who also won the PWC Superfinal in Turkey in 2010. Experiencing Brazil in itself is fantastic. The flying, the camaradie, the Brazilian women, the food, the Caprinhas (and so forth)…

Next up was the Norwegian Cup, Round 1 in Hjartdal, Telemark in the end of April. We had 2 wonderful tasks above the beautiful Hjartdal / Seljord area of which the 2nd task (which I won) proved to be invalid because of too few pilots reaching minimum distance. Overall winner was Gunnar Sæbu.

Then came Norwegian Cup Round 2 in Hallingdal which saw 3 cancelled tasks because of bad weather.

Annecy, France also saw bad weather for the World Cup 12-19 May. We only got 1 valid task, an impressive 103 km race to goal in strong northernly wind and punching leeside thermals. I will never forget racing downwind, 30 meters over a cliff for 10 km with an armada of 100 gliders in formation. It was spectacular. The task was stopped after several pilots reported level 3 (dangerous) conditions. Interview with the Norwegian Team and a must see documentary from the competition. Overall winner was Alfredo Studer (Switzerland).

Norwegian Cup Round 3 was held in Hvittingfoss. We had 2 great tasks, the first one a zig-zag in the local area and the 2nd one a 67 km race to goal up valley to Veggli in Numedal. Overall winner was yours truly. It’s always a good feeling. I won a fly-fishing set and wonder if it was a hint… ;-)

Norwegian Cup Round 4 was held in Vågå. A 49 km race to exit (in either direction) was set, with an added competition on top of that featuring open distance. This means that you could continue the flight after reaching goal in order to maximize open distance. Winner of the Norwegian Cup was Jan Richard Hansen and winner of the Open Distance competition was Gunnar Sæbu.

Next up is the Portugal World Cup in Montalegre. I will report soon, and more often.