Showing posts from October, 2005


Aint it cool to learn a new language? I learned 3 languages (English, Chinese, Malay) as a child in South East Asia, so I didn't appreciate the significance of speaking a language... until I began to learn Portuguese as an adult.

Yeah sure, languages allow you to communicate with words, but it's much deeper than that. If you allow a new language to become part of you, you are also allowing yourself to be affected, to change.

Contained within a language, is how a people perceives and interacts with the World, and responds to the state of being human on this planet. Study the words and structure, and you have but begun. The juice is between the words, in the pauses, in that elusive word-less reality. But you need the words to get you there.

Immersed within an unknown language-culture-reality, layers of what you thought were part of your-self, but were merely layers of your life, are peeled away, leaving you in a vulnerable but opportune condition. A chance to re-invent oneself pre…


After a fun few days in Atibaia, a city near São Paulo, it was time to head back to Australia.

São Paulo-->Buenos Aires-->Auckland-->Sydney

24 hours of roaring jets, fluorescent lighting, allocated seating, and airline food later... I landed on a very very large island.

Here they seem more concerned with someone bringing in some fruit, than drugs... fair enough, there is a lot to protect here.

Caught up with everyone at Moyes about all the funny stuff that happened during the trip.

The next morning I was having breakfast on Vicki's patio, when two locals came to visit me. Not sure if they were interested in me or my muesli, pears, honey and yoghurt...

Then I hit the gym and spent some time at Coogee beach. The sun was strong, but the air cool. The water... well, it was beautiful.

God I love Australia.

Até a Próxima Vez

Para os meus amigos Brasileiros, eu preciso falar muito obrigado pela sua hospitalidade durante a minha viagem ao Brasil este ano! Brasil é o país mais bonita que eu já vi. E as pessoas são bonitas também... por fora e por dentro.

Eu ainda não acredito que legal estava de voar com vocês em Andradas. As condicões são boas e fortes lá, os pilotos são rápidos, e a vista é incrível!

Nesta vida nós precisamos fazer muitas decisões. O que pegar, o que deixar... Após o meu melhor amigo Chris Muller morreu num acidente de asa delta uns mêses passados, para mim voar não foi como antes. Eu estava ficando perdido e a felicidade de voar desapareceu em mim.

Mas agora tudo é melhor. Eu sei com certeza que o vôo livre vai ser muito importante na minha vida, agora e para sempre... e eu nunca vou esquecer nisto! Obrigado por me adjudando para lembrar! Chris, eu vou te ver um dia, mas não já.

Então... até a próxima vez os meus irmãos... térmicas fortes e bons vôos!



O Gavião always launches first.

I have heard that talking is a phenomenon that occurs only once thinking has ceased. If this is true I would like to know what the hawk thinks...

With time, words change their meaning... their significance isn't constant. Words like success, happiness, love, purpose... meant something different to us when we were kids, when we were teenagers, and as adults. Even as adults the flux is continuous. But there is one word that has remained constant in my life; unchanging, immutable, ever-present, and self-justifying... Fun. I've never had some fun, then wished I hadn't! You don't need a reason to have fun, you just have it, and it feels right.

I remember playing in my backyard in Melbourne when I was about 4. An inflatable pool, the sun, water everywhere. All was right in the World... looking up at one of the lemon trees I thought... one day I'll be big enough to reach one. Through the years, I've found my fun in different ways, and in d…

Victim of Fun

Climbing out from launch

Looking ahead on course

M for Moyes

Sloped LZ

New friends

Woke up feeling tired from all the hardcore flying lately, so I walked to the waterfall and dove in... brrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!! The water was cold but it sure felt good... better than a Starbucks any day. Then I lay on a warm rock and gazed into the sky, to imagine what adventures the day would bring.

After planning a 150km triangle, we landed trying to fly towards rising ground, along the first leg. The last bit was way fun, as we navigated through the narrow valleys and over the 200-300m hills... micro-scale thermal XC. Landed on the steep slopes of a 50m hill, fly-on-the-wall style. The hill was so steep, it was difficult to walk down, but the radio reception from the top was great.

Gun shots fired, but it was only people in the nearby town celebrating a holiday.

A few people from the town came by to see what was going on and check out our wings.


Next stop: Cloudbase

Looking back on course

Looking ahead on course

Made it home to São Lourenço

With the excellent forecast, we decided to stay in the mountains for another day.

The morning brought moisture and low cloud, but we were still hopeful. As we sipped on coffee, and ate bananas with honey (from Konrad´s nearby farm), we planned a 100km triangle.

First a leg deep into the high ground... there are places to land there, but you had better be prepared for a night in the jungle and a long hike out. Then a leg out into the lower hills and finally back to goal at the São Lourenço airport.

A slow climb out from launch dampened our enthusiasm. The big clouds across the valley were beginning to overdevelop. I was a little hesitant to go into the high, narrow valleys with clouds like that around, but Konrad was keen so I figured it would be worth a shot.

We kinda skirted the growing monsters, close enough to extract some of the energy without being destroyed by them. I knew that a gust front …

Hard Life

On the way back to Rio, we stopped in the Serra da Mantiqueira mountains for some big big mountain airtime. 10,000ft peaks and way big clouds called for us... life is hard... hard to miss.


Post comp XC with my Litespeed S4 and Flytec 5030

Last day, lots of tension in the air. Nenê was in the lead, but would he hold it?

Today´s task was similar to many of the others, with goal back in Andradas. Had a good start and was with the lead gaggle for the first half, until I dove for a big cloud, just in time for it to die and leave me low in the shade.

Betinho was also thinking the same thing, so we shared a similar fate. We struggled for a bit, and made it in, but much slower. Carlos won the day, and Nenê held his lead to take the comp!

It was an emotional moment when Betinho got up on stage with his young son, and announced that he would be retiring from competitions soon. The standing applause was long and deafening.

That night it was clubb´n till 5am. I had planned to sleep in, but Konrad woke me up at 9am and convinced me to go flying. The plan was to try to fly back to Rio, rally-style.

The first goal was São Lourenço, 200km to the East. With …



Finalmente... finally. Or final-freak´n-mente!

Won the day, a 100km dogleg task in 1.5h. Just over 60km/h, in a light tailwind. This was a day when we didn´t need to leave the streeting to follow the course line. For the first time this whole trip, I had a good start. High, on time, in position... and waiting.

The first glide was 15km at 80km/h. The second was 10 at 90km/h... Now this is hanggliding racing at it´s best! An unstable day, though, and the sky started to become very unsettled as we rounded the turnpoint. The convergence lines were beginning to overdevelop into lines of thunderstorms. Not only were we racing each other, but we also had to reach goal before the storm front hit.

About 25km out, I was in a good position in the lead gaggle. The next cloud on course line didn´t look very good. The nearby storms were growing, advancing towards us.

Time to make a move, I turned hard left and dove at 90km/h towards a development line that looked to b…

Deep Play


Everything into one.

It isn´t easy to isolate my experiences into individual days; my mind doesn´t work that way. Here I am trying to remember what happened on this particular day, but everything that happened is related and is interacting with other things that happened on previous days. It is all one single flight.

Anyways, Nenê won the day, and a few top players were short.

Turnpoints, convergence lines, wind noise, and my screaming vario... all the elements were there. A tricky part came along though, and my buddy Guga and I flew the last 1/3 of the task together, until landing 6km short.

All was good, then all was bad. A cloud fell apart on us, then a long glide in some shade over shallow hills. We flew through the valleys of 200m hills and thermalled with urubus to stay in the air. It was slow going against the wind but we survived the last turnpoint between 200-400m above the ground.

We only had 10km to go and it was downwind... but no go. Made it …

Cloud Dancing


We lost another day due to the influence of a cold front, so I spent a few hours at launch helping Moyes pilots with their tuning and hardware issues.

The other day, I had half an hour to kill before the start gate, so I had some fun playing with the clouds.

Didn´t fly into clouds but I was able to climb above cloudbase in a small clear area surrounded by towering cumuli. The upwind cloud was about 500m high and was cresting like a wave. The cloud movement here seems faster than other places... you can watch clouds develop without having to look away every so often to notice the changes.

Imagine looking up at a wave the size of a mountain, as it comes crashing down on you. Strangely, I was drawn to it. If I had allowed myself to be engulfed by the cloud, would that be surrendering control, or taking it?

Good weather on the way...

Terminal X

Terminal X, sponsor of the competition, with live webcasts at launch.

Guga takes the day again. A 95km task that went against a 20km/h headwind into the flats, with high overcast and no clouds. Real tricky...

The rest of the course was blaz'n. The final leg into the mountains was really interesting. Flew over a massive rock formation that looks like a giant elephant lying on its belly on top of the mountain, with its ears drooping, and trunk stretched out in front. Asked the locals about it later... guess what, its called Pedra do Elefante (Elephant Rock).

It was like 3 flights in one, each leg presenting entirely different conditions.

Again the wind went head lower down and nearly got us during the final glide. A last 100m hill before goal handed us a dose of lee-side turbulence and sink to welcome us. A small detour to some circling urubus brought us back to glide height. Same story as yesterday, 6 pilots playing chicken with the goal line. An exciting end to a c…

Ultimate Flying

Gaggle Combat

Goal Ambience

Pinhal-->Aguaí-->Mogi Mirim 85km

A real mix of conditions. Chose my own route on the first leg but it did not work so well, because the convergence line that I was chasing dissipated. Got a little low in the shade but eventually got back with the lead gaggle.

The conditions kept improving along the course, which was way cool because it seemed like with each glide our speeds were increasing. That feeling of an accelerating average speed is climactic. Towards the end we had stopped turning, only pulling up in lift and pushing over into the sink.

The 6 of us, Guga, Dustin, Michel, Betinho, Nenê, and myself duked it out over the 20km final glide. Each of us kept trying to fly just a little faster than the other... and this inflated into impossible speeds. This is where it all begins, where hanggliding almost becomes a contact sport. We were stacked all over each other, going 80km/h, unwilling to ease up, despite the goal airport rising in the ho…


North Launch

Yeah so we have been launching from the rim of an ancient volcano. The centre of the volcano appears to be about 20km in diameter. The generally rising ground towards the rim produces complicated cloud development and wind patterns. The wind is generally 15km/h from some direction, and the opposite at cloudbase, and changes with the time of day, and the area.

I don't mean light and variable, I mean smoke flat on the ground from opposite directions within sight from cloudbase. I mean cloud shadows moving one direction and the smoke on the ground moving the other direction. It's crazy... for the last 2 days in a row we have begun our final glide with a 15km/h tailwind, and finished with the same but headwind!

I've given up trying to plan my legs because the conditions change too quickly. The convergence lines -there are numerous and they have different orientations- continually move or die and then regenerate. I just glide straight on course line and…

Super Race

Canadian Terrorist

One final day of testflying and tuning before the 2-day State of Rio Championship, and conditions were perfect. The launch, Pico do Gavião (Hawk Peak), is the nicest launch in Brazil.

Speaking of hawks, one attacked me here. The weird thing was that it wasn't focused on my wing, but me! It kept trying to get around the wires, with its talons drawn. I shook my wing around and got the hell outta there.

The comp is called Super Race... don't ask me, I guess here that sounds cool.

Anyways, the interesting thing is that this comp uses an unusual scoring system that rewards the fast guys even more than GAP and is purely finish-order based. About 25% more points for the winner over second place for the day, regardless of time separation.

We only flew the first day, in unstable conditions that threatened to go nuclear. A 65km closed circuit with a 15-20km/h wind. The first bit was slow and trying to be too smart on the route choice, I was dropped by the le…