19 June 2011

12th FAI Paragliding World Championship

Keith's SPOT
Live Tracking

Day Two

We had an amazing race to Avila that started with some zig zagging in the Piedrahita valley and ended with a long downwind leg to goal at Avila.

Conditions were light during the first part of the task, it was quite a struggle to make all the turnpoints. The downwind leg was really fun and I final glided with Michael Sigel.

I knew there had been serious accidents and reserve deployments because of the continuous communicating on the safety frequency. It was only later that I discovered that there had been two fatalities and five reserve deployments.

In response to this the FAI suspended the certification of Competition Class gliders and stopped the championship.

We are all deeply saddened by the accidents and disappointed by the consequences. Two years of racing to earn a position on our national team, so much training, so much money spent on equipment to satisfy CIVL's new rules, so much time committed to being here, and so much anticipation of this event.

What do we do now?

Day One

With a predicted 20 km/h westerly and the top of lift at 2800 m the classic 154 km race to Arcones was called.

It was fun racing. I had some trouble managing the airspace and landed at the edge of one of the restricted areas, trying to get around it.. somewhere between Avila and Segovia. Keith landed at Segovia and Claudio made goal!

We don't know who won the day yet but the results should be up in a few hours. The link above to the live tracking is apparently very exciting to watch. Realtime race action in 3D.

The weather for the next few days is expected to be good. We've been averaging one reserve deployment per fly day. Pilots reported witnessing many airspace infractions today, the penalty of which is a zero score.

Town decorations


We had an official practice task for the competitors to test their equipment, the organization to test their systems, and the air to test our gliders.

A 60 km multi turnpoint task with goal in Piedrahita, wind at 15-20 km/h from the north, 2-5 m/s climbs, and base at 2800 m.

We flew the task with lots of speed and angry places in the sky threatened to take your glider from you. One pilot floated down safely under his parachute.

The opening ceremony was grand

First Flight

I opened my eyes alertly. It was only 5 am but I was eager to taste the skies of Piedrahita. I went for a walk through town in the dawn light. The air was cool and the streets quiet.

Later a few of us found an open cafe for breakfast and discussed the forecast and ideas for a practice task.

Swifts celebrate in the early sunlight

We arrived at launch at 12 pm and prepared to fly. Despite agreeing upon a practice task on the ground, we later scattered across the sky pursuing personal choices of which areas to fly. I spent 3 hours completing a short out-and-return with a brutally difficult battle against the wind on the return leg. I had flown into a narrow valley known for being a difficult area to cross because I wanted to learn how to fly this part of the flying arena. Flying around in the easy parts of the sky is fun but is low quality training.

A front was approaching from the west so I pushed to get back to town before it arrived. As I zipped up my glider bag in the LZ in town the first drops of rain and a light gust front arrived.


Anonymous departure gates, morphing time zones, and the lingering smell of eau de Boeing. Beginning in Canada and touring the northern hemisphere via Greenland, Ireland, Holland, and Germany, we have arrived in Spain.

 Our beautiful Canada


I enjoy the days before leaving for an important competition. I begin to eject unimportant things from my mind, things that are not relevant to the competition. My distracted mind implodes until I am in a state of simplicity. The ritual of tattooing my competition numbers to my glider often begins the process. Daily life tediosities lose meaning and fade from awareness.

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