Friday, March 09, 2007

Task 5

Early news, Andrew, Heike Craig D and I bombed early - Viv, Craig C and James into goal - 53km to Gulf Creek, a few km past Barrabas - Hopefully a good team result and Viv has certainly got 2nd women's place

Day 13

Clear sky, low base of ragged cumulus, moderate S. Briefing at 12:00 on Borah.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Behind the scenes - Barb on retrieve

Barb had a busier day yesterday, I landed out deep in the boonies with quite a few others. Barb and local farmer Sam, came out to find us all. Sam was great. We loaded up the hilux and then some to get a load of stranded pilots back to the road.

From the weekend

Hamish Barker visited with some other aussie pilots over the last weekend. What a great effort to come all that way, real good to see them.
Hamish has sent us some pictures.

Day 12

lots and lots of rain, day cancelled at 11:30

Task 4

Day 11

Just read through the comments sent in to JJ’s Blog yesterday. Firstly, on behalf of the team, thanks for the congratulations, great to know there’s great support out there. And the story below….

The morning was grey with around 80% alto stratus cover, it was looking pretty doubtful with everything on hold until 12. Then it was decided we were meeting on the hill at 1.30. The sky was clearing, the winds weren’t too strong….pilots were beginning to smile.

The task was set to Baan Baa to the west with 5 x 15min start gates. The Aussies met and decided on strategy, general consensus was not the first start gate and go with a good sized gaggle. The team was all pretty quick to launch and we all took the second start gate. Personally I was keen to leave, those gaggles over launch were all over the place. ……Game on.

Heading towards Boggabri Gap climbs were low with the gaggles moving on fast at around 1550m. This saw the team split up as we all headed for the climbs closest to each of us. As we got closer to the Gap the climbs got lower and more spread out and things started looking a little dire. Shortly after Craig, Craig, Brain and Heike were on the deck in the newly named Buggerbry Gap. They weren’t alone, around 50 pilots ended up in the same area including Steve Ham and Russel Ogden.

Meantime Andrew had ended up with a gaggle taking the higher country to the north, calling climbs to 2000m he seemed to be doing just fine. I was heading to the forest just north of the Gap, it was shading out, I went in low and found a climb over a rock with another pilot and climbed out. Later I heard unconfirmed reports of someone else doing the same and landing on that rock… James was still on the east side of the Gap and eventually found a climb over Michelle Baptist to make the crossing.

Conditions to the west of Gap were tricky, the sky was filling in with high cloud, the climbs were slow and with the carnage at Boggaabri we were left with fewer gaggles. Going to the south of the Square Forest it became obvious the winds were more cross and it was easy to drift north of the course line. This was Andrew’s demise, his gaggle had continued around the north of the Square Forest and coming around the corner to get into goal it was pretty tough going into the head wind. He landed shortly after. I landed about the same time.

After crossing the Gap, James got a couple of great (relatively speaking) climbs and was just about 1km behind me and into wind when he called a tantalizing 1 up. I wasn’t going to make it to him….but so close. James took that climb and made goal. Very well done! Around 25 others made it as well, the only chick was Kari Castle who had been flying with James.

After I landed I saw one and then two gaggles of around 15 pilots fly over the top of me, those later starts seemed to have the advantage. Louise Crandal confirmed this on the way back, she had left in either the last or second last start and had a fairly easy and quick run.

A disappointment of the day was not seeing the leading pilot Petra in goal and then hearing from her team mates that she had basically bombed. How cool would it have been to see her win!

When we landed we got the news from Pete abut the incidents on the hill. Being a good manager he had kept everything to himself. Two mid-airs with three reserve deployments, a gyro flying around very close to the pilots, and a free flyer with a broken leg. Apparently there was discussion about canning the task so the rescue helicopter could get in. No updates on what was posted in the comments by Rob as yet.

This morning it’s raining, JJ thinks we might sneak in a task tomorrow……..


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

day 11

ET Race to Baan Baa. 5 start times 15 min apart. Launch open 2:15 First start 2:45.
The team is up and away.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Day 10

Drove up the hill for a 1:00 briefing. 30-50kmh winds from the ESE. We waited until 15:30 when the day was canned and we drove back down. Looking forward to the next 3 days where the forecast is hinting at some flying - we shall see

Monday, March 05, 2007

Day 9

We arose to an overcast sky with storms already on the radar from the south. Briefings were postponed until 1:30 where we met on top of Borah. From there we watched a storm overtake us from the south.
We bolted off the hill before the rain made the road too slippery in time to get back to episode 16 of Heroes.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Day 8 – Task 3 Heike’s Perspective

The task: a 57km race to Tamworth sportsground (we had special air clearance) via Manilla, Attunga and a turnpoint at the BiLo in Tamworth. Race start: 2.30pm

After launching from the west launch, most of the Aussie team seemed to be at base (around 2000m at that stage) with 40 minutes to go before the race started. It got pretty congested up there at times, made somewhat easier by having a 3km start radius. I think most of the Aussie team got a good start, with Craig C leading the way (I think).

There was a worrying lack of clouds on course, and sure enough, once we left the hill things got very slow. We seemed to break into two main gaggles after the turnpoint, one of about 100 pilots, the other of about 30. I was in the second of the gaggles, the rest of the team in the first, except for Craig C, who I’m guessing pushed out and sadly landed shortly after the first turnpoint .

Our gaggle climbed about 300m, and then started going down. With visions of us all hitting the deck together, I decided to risk it and glide back to the ridge north of town, and connected with a climb above the tip. Big mistake, because the gaggle I’d left climbed out so I was about 10km behind the field, and by myself.

I could hear the others moving down the course line, mostly slowly but at times calling up to 2.5m climbs. Eventually Brian and Andrew landed about 200m short of goal, with Viv and Craig D landing around 16km short of goal. I ended up about 21 km short, and James about 27km short.

I think about 15 people made goal, with Petra in second or third … which means she’ll be leading the whole field after today!!

The photo was taken yesterday – Kari was paying the Aussie team a visit up on the hill. Thanks to Brett for the photo. (Brian and I must have been writing today up at the same time - I decided my write-up was sufficiently different to post it anyway.)

Day 8 - Task 3

Another late day with wind out of N/NE. We waited until 12:30 with gliders launching from the east before a task with a 2:30 RACE from Borah was called. By 1:30 the west launch was working and we all climbed easily under 2 good clouds to wait for the start gate.
From the Borah start over Manilla to the caravan park saw a long glide and not many signs of lift, eventually a slow climb was found a couple of k's NW of Namoi Park. This hauled 2 large gaggles back up to 1900m (1m/s was good) and allowed us to move on along the course line with some more regular climbs to Attunga.
Past Attunga we slowed down again and fought in scrappy lift creeping towards Tamworth. One short TP and then a 3km glide to goal across some suburbia, sports fields with tall trees between them and then the finish line. Andrew fared best for the home team landing 100m short of goal, regretfully no Aussies across the line again. Perhaps 15 pilots in.
A long slow day, 57km in 3.5 hours - but we flew!!

Happy birthday Poppa!!
On the hill at 12:00
light to mod north to north east.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Day 7

Strong northerly winds and very hot - day cancelled at 12:30
Team photo shoot at 5:00 pm.

Craig D's viewpoint

The conditions for task 2 looked a lot better than I was expecting with some free flyers climbing to cloud base. When the launch window opened and there was no wind on any of the launches or any gliders climbing we had to wait it out on the east launch with Wendy giving us updates from the west launch, Barb from the east bomb-out and Pete assisting on the east. Eventually it came on and we all got in the air.

After to climbing to 2100m we headed of to the Tarpoly turnpoint, Craig C, James and Andy got there first followed by myself Viv and Brian and Heike. Heading towards the second turnpiont Craig C, Andy and James went down the western side of the range with a big gaggle getting quite low and struggled to find a good climb. Viv Brian and myself went down the east side and got quite a good run all the way to the Baldwin range which allowed us to catch up Craig and Andy's gaggle. Unfortunately Heike got low on the run back from Tarpoly and landed near the Baraba road.
After climbing to 1700m at the Baldwins we headed to the second turnpiont (chicken shed south) getting a really nice glide with Brian leading the Aussies. As we had left the ranges the good 2 to 3m climbs were replaced with very light 0.5m climbs. We all slowed down and tried maximise every thermal. Brian pushed into the last turnpoint before goal and landed nearby along with Viv Craig and Andy. James and myself managed to scratch our way a little closer to goal with James landing 1km short and 2km for myself. So overall not the best day for the team with our team ranking sliding to 10th, we are all looking forward to improving on this.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Day 6.2

Very light conditions meant you could take off from any of the launches although the east was probably the best choice.
60km around Manilla, STARTG, TARPOLY, CHICKSTH, NAMOIPK, MANILLAE (caravan park goal)
35ish in goal but no aussies , James was closest (2km I think) 2000m base, slow climbs - results will be up soon

Day 6.1

blue sky, light wind, lots of water on the ground - 12:00 on the hill

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Day 5

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Go Aussie Go

Task 1 of the competition did not disappoint. It was great to see that many of the locals and their children come to welcome the pilots into goal.

Pete (Aussie Team Manager) and JJ identified the Australian pilots as they approached to land - soon there were a crowd of local kids eager to run out and “High 5” their new heroes and friends. Many of the kids recognised the pilots from their previous fly in to the school last Thursday.

With Nick leading the way, it was great to see how our pilots shared their goal excitement with the kids. I felt proud to be associated with the team when seeing the smile on 7 year old Hugh McFarlanes’ face when he came back to tell his mum that he got to “High 5” with Heike and “she spoke to me Mum”. Mitchell Hannemann, only 5 years old, was excited to shake hands with James Lawson. The kids will remember this day.

A quick message was sent around to all the kids and they gathered patiently to have a group photo with all the Aussie Team.

Congratulations to all the pilots – a great result for task 1 – showing the power of teamwork.


The Australian Paragliding Team Drops into School…

Students from Stage 2 and 3 hurried to the High School after lunch on Thursday eager to meet the members of the Australian Paragliding Team competing in the Paragliding World Championship.

The high schools top oval became the landing paddock complete with a windsock. The Australian Team did not disappoint the students with messages from the UHF radios to the kids. Some pilots flew low greeting the students; others provide a brief display of mild acrobatics.

Once on the ground, the team members and other pilots who dropped in to meet the students, showed their equipment and instruments. The kids had the opportunity to feel the fabric from which the gliders are constructed. They were amazed by how thin the lines (strings) were and the weight that each line can hold. A few students experienced sitting in the harness while others were eager to assist with the carrying of the backpack.

A huge thankyou to the Aussie Team for their effort and enthusiasm to meet the students. Good luck Viv, Heike, Andrew, Craig C, Craig D, Brian and James.


Day 4 - 9:30

Rebrief at 11:30

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Task 1

Start Gate – Halls Creek – Manilla (46km)

The day’s forecast was for isolated showers and thunderstorms, but the conditions turned out to be better than forecast. We assembled on the North launch for a task briefing but just as the window opened we heard reports of the West launch starting to come on. So the entire Aussie Team moved to the West launch and Craig Collings and Andrew took the risk and launched first. The rest of the team quickly followed and we established ourselves at cloud base (1700amsl) and went into a holding pattern for an hour as nobody wanted to lead out. Eventually Viv and Heike decided to start the task and soon after a gaggle of about 20 pilots (including all the male members of the Aussie Team) followed.

As we worked our way across the valley to the rubbish tip and found a climb I was surprised to see that none of the other 100 or so pilots hovering over the launch had started chasing us. The gaggle moved on and then split as some, including Craig C. and Andrew, went off to the right towards the sun and the rest of us went straight for the turnpoint. Our group got a bit of a jump but as we approached the turnpoint it slowed down and Craig C. and Andrew caught back up.

As we turned back for goal I lost track of the other pilots except for Heike who had found the climb for me at the turnpoint. My last climb was 8.5 km from goal and I took it to 1800m just to be sure. Unfortunately Craig D. and Brian dropped short of goal and it looked like Andrew was going to share the same fate, but he somehow managed to hit all the right bubbles over the last few hundred metres and landed on the goal line. During the final glide I was pleased to see a mega gaggle of 50+ pilots struggling towards the first turnpoint. Our team made a great decision to leave the start with the first group.

So, an excellent start for the team with 5 out of 7 team members in goal including both the girls.

From James

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rules (it's raining)

Team leader meetings at these big comps are always interesting, today (day 2) was up there - since GPS timing of tasks have been accepted there has been a problem using them for races. Apparently some GPS keep time differently to others. It has been proposed that one particular model can have a time 10 seconds in advance of others - that could mean that two pilots could race over the finish line absolutely together, however the pilot with GPS A could be recorded as being up to 10 seconds ahead of the pilot with GPS B. Ten seconds using RACE and GAP 2000 for scoring can add up to significant points when the pilots really should get the same points.

For this reason senior competitions prefer to have a physical goal line staffed by observers who manually time the first 15 pilots over the line. The pilot's manual time takes precedence to their GPS time.

Sounds good, a couple more staff to handle the timings but hey, this is a senior comp and money is not a problem. But, hang on a mo, what about safety. By making a physical line the end of the task and the race then we are asking the pilots to speed into goal as quickly as they dare, on a paraglider this means using speed bar and trimmers, often when the pilots are low, close to the ground. This is a significant safety issue as a comp wing collapsing on full speed close to the ground could be very dangerous.

Ok, one solution could be to have an end of speed section perhaps 1km before the goal - pilots would race through that 1km ring but would also need to have the height to keep on going to the goal, the idea here is that the racing would still be done but with much more height, the last 1km to goal would not be a part of the speed section but would need to be covered to for the pilots to win all their points.
Good solution, safety, safety - unfortunately we are back to the race section being timed by GPS and the the pilot with GPS A is smiling, consequently many senior comps stay with the dangerous race across a physical goal line.

The issue is known to the FAI and CIVL and apparently they have been looking into the problem. Perhaps time for them to stop looking and start acting. How about standardised GPS equipment confined to GPS which are known to have correct times or a list of excluded GPS which are known to have incorrect times. That then means no more unfair GPS time advantage so that then means everybody is happy with 1km end of speed section and no more dumb full speed into goal low to the ground (which can hurt).

One could also ask why aren't we using RACE and GAP 2002 as it handles this all much better (although not perfectly), so why are we using GAP 2000 - perhaps more tomorrow....


Day 2

Day 2 was cancelled at 12 noon as the inclement weather was rolling in from Narrabri and there wouldn't be an oportunity to complete a task.
My new glider, Gin Boomerang 5 in Aussie colours Green and Gold has seen many changes since I received it four nights ago.
Gin and the Gin Team Pilots have been busy before the worlds triming the glider with all 40 odd Boomer 5 pilots haveing input in the final product. We now have got to a stage/glider that will be very competitive in this World Championships.

Check out the new Boomer 5 that was designed for Australian conditions in Aussie Colors.

Day 2

We awoke today to 95% cloud cover :-(.

It got a little more blue during the course of the morning for short periods of time, but with a big band of rain moving towards us from the west the task was cancelled at 12 noon. So, not even a trip up the hill today.

Time to get beaten (only just) in cards by Brian, and for a nice long bike ride later on.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Heike's Perspective of Day 1

Well, today finally arrived – day 1 of the worlds in Manilla - the opportunity to represent my country in my country. It’s been quite a journey getting here – lots of training both in the sky and on the ground, life decisions geared towards supporting the preparation, and life’s normal ups and downs along the way. It’s almost hard to believe it’s finally started – and better still, that I am quite calm and have no troubles eating breakfast! The preparations have paid off, and I feel ready.

The hill was busy, with more spectator’s than I’ve ever seen before at the Worlds. Pete, our dedicated team leader, and I spent some time talking about how he could best support me. Whilst I am flying better than ever, I’m also going through a period of being particularly nervous of conditions, which sees me at times just wanting to be safely on the ground – sometimes sensibly so, and sometimes a little earlier than is necessary! We came up with a plan which won’t disrupt the rest of the team, and I leave feeling grateful for his support.

The briefing was put back from 12.00 to 12.30pm and then a 48km race task set in the local area, due to a high possibility of thunderstorms developing later in the day. Good task from our fabulous task committee – Craig Collings (Australia), Kari Castle (USA) and Steve Ham (UK) – with a lot of input from Godfrey, no doubt. I got myself ready to launch pretty quickly, wanting to be up nice and high as early as possible – my stress levels tend to be lower up there, than in the midst of mega-gaggles!

I was the first person to be present in my particular queue (all those with a pilot number higher than 60), and walked straight onto launch, and set up right up the front, next to Craig C. The sky was building quite strongly, with some big clouds just behind launch – the clouds in the direction of the course line were still looking okay. By now others were on launch, including Brian and Craig D. Then the wind picked up on launch, without the usual lulls, and I was beginning to wonder if I wanted to launch in this or not. With only about 1 minute before the window was due to open, the launch was closed, due to the conditions, and about 3 minutes later the task was cancelled, due to the development over launch.

I’ve got to say I was relieved – for today, but even more so for the tone it sets for the competition – a competition where our piloting skills are tested, rather than our levels of courage, suits me.

Thanks to Brett Hardin for the photos.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Opening Ceremony

Opening day today under a hot sun and light wind. A procession through Manilla to the show ground, then an air display including the Australian aerobatic champion, a Roulette and an F-18 Hornet, followed by some country music and a fireworks display.
A grand turn out to cheer us all on our way, also an additional retrieve vehicle from the Army.

Great Conditions for Practice days

All the pilots competing in the World Champs beginning tomorrow have arrived over the past few days. The conditions on the practice days have been great with strong thermals and plenty of cloud development.
Personally I have taken the opportunity to try a less conservative style of flying (flying alone without the gaggle) and have found it quite difficult to make any advantage, but taking all the (tactical) risks. This has reaffirmed our team strategy for the first few tasks of the competition - "to be conservative and make the goal".

It is thought that many of the teams will adopt this approach at the beginning of the competition. As the competition continues some of the lower ranked pilots will push harder (to try and win days) and the speed of the flying will increase.

Craig Collings