High Hopes in the French Alps

A Team of Distinction – X Pyr

Ok… Haven’t posted for a while, but generally things have reverted back to ‘normal’ in as much as we are back, and working!

My only complaint, is that I don’t get enough of my own flying in, and wish I was twenty years younger! Why…. because of things like this!!!

Fantastic X-Pyr a race based on the Red Bull X-Alps formula, a real endurance sport of hike and flying, simply brilliant. The X-Alps is one we love to watch here, because the scenery is familiar, but the X-Pyrenees, is different in a landscape that is not so familiar to us up here, but looks amazing… feel like a trip to the Pyrenees coming on!

Anyway, here’s the recent video of non other than “Mr X-Alps/Pyrenees” himself Mr Chrigal Maurer,  ‘finishing the race’… with his amazing support companion Thomas Theurillat who was with him (I should think!) every step and flight of the way! a team of distinction…

Here’s the link to the website, it you’d like to see it.  It is still continuing and if I understand the rules correctly, it will not be finished until 22:30 tonight…


July 18, 2014 Posted by | Competition, Flying | Leave a comment

3rd Day – Para-elite, but Weather Defective!

It was really quiet on launch this morning, really thought that the competition had relocated to Annecy, or somewhere… but later on pilots started to arrive little by little, until the field was pretty much full.

Yuko, progressed in leaps and bounds today, and managed four flights, each one with more progress than the last, so it was smiles all ’round. The weather, was quite bright to start with, then slowly cloud cover crept in unannounced, and it began to get darker.

On my last fly-down, on my new XS Carrera, which I am growing to really enjoy, I felt a few spots of rain, so decided now was a good time to land. It was the first time I had Forward or Alpine launched the Carrera, and it came up beautifully! without the slightest ‘peep!’

Personally, my thoughts were that the competition was not going to happen today, because to be honest, I left it to the last minute to launch after launching Yuko,  whilst noticing the rain cloud advancing into the valley.

Sure enough, when I landed it seemed the competition had been cancelled! As after we folded our gliders, there were just a few taking off, but nothing major. When we got home and checking on the webcam, it looked like the launch area was empty, so that was it. There is still tomorrow, but the weather forecast was not looking good to start with, but now it seems to be improving, we will have to see…

So far, here are the results and tasks of the competitions from the FFVL competitions page. It is not over, there is still tomorrow, weather permitting!


May 10, 2014 Posted by | Competition, Flying, One to One Tuition | Leave a comment

‘Elite’ – Plaine Joux Comp – Day 2

Task 1 - Results

Task 1 – Results

Second day of the ‘Elite’ competition held here today, 9th May, I’m writing this a day late…

They managed a decent enough task given the fickle weather conditions. It was one of those Plaine Joux days, when it all appears like it’s going to be working, and just when it’s all happening, it decides to ‘switch off’, calling everyone’s bluff, and almost everyone ends up scratching around, to claw something out of nothing!

I had a sweet end of the day, fly around on the school Alpha 5, most enjoyable! after a good day with Yuko, who progressed a little more today.

The competition, second task, was a ‘cats cradle’ within the valley,  with an optimised route of  39.424 km.  only five pilots made goal.  Yesterdays task was again, a ‘cats cradle’ within the valley, but the route was 47.430 km so a little further.

The results of the first task, that were pinned up on the board. I think a lot of pilots were caught out. Had a bit of a laugh with one of the pilots, joking about the conditions being perfect for the beginners! Haven’t got a clue who he was though!

Last Minute - Task 2 adjustments.

Last Minute – Task 2 adjustments.

May 10, 2014 Posted by | Competition, Flying, One to One Tuition | Leave a comment

Plaine Joux ‘A’ Comp

Not exactly just ‘A’ comp, the ‘A’ list French Pilots competition was held here in Plaine Joux today.

The conditions d2014-05-08 15.04.14id not lend themselves to a particularly easy task, in fact it was so stable and overcast, ‘challenging’ would be an understatement! It was very heavily overcast, with a threat of rain, so there was barely anything heating up the valley floor today, and we had quite a downpour yesterday, so they did well to do any distance at all!

We were working with our  ‘One to One’ client, a young Japanese girl named Yuko, and she was going to be flying her very first flight, in amongst some of the top paragliding brass in the world!

Admittedly, we had to wait until a suitable gap arose so she could take her launch, and most of  t2014-05-08 15.04.21he hot-ships were up and gone, although many of them didn’t actually make it that far… some did but only a handful.

We were for a moment caught in amongst the frenzy, as they decided to call the task just at that moment. So we stood aside, until the rush was over.

Yuko, enjoyed her first flight and one that she says she will ‘never forget!’

On the way back to the ranch, we saw Denis Cortella, landed at the road side, Luc Armant, landed in a favourite land out field next to Super U, and another glider landed in the field next to Intermarché. Nice to know the top brass picked good land out fields, ones, I would have picked myself, although not to sure about Denis’ choice of the narrow strip of roadside!

Not sure, how they did but it was fun to watch! They may all be back again tomorrow, as it’s a four day competition, but they may well choose another venue, not too sure.

Here are a couple of pics on launch, and a couple of the task board.


2014-05-08 15.06.54 2014-05-08 15.07.00

May 8, 2014 Posted by | Competition, Flying, One to One Tuition | Leave a comment

Task 1 – Belgian Open

Never changing Chabre Scrappy Launch!

Ok so here we are in Laragne for the Belgian Paragliding Open. Great reception as usual with the added delight of a gift pack of Belgian chocolate biscuits together with their world renowned belgian beer… and you wonder why we like this competition!

...and down the other end!

So far only one task as the weather has not been appropriate for paragliders although yesterday the hangies were making the most of it. Task 1, was an interesting one. A 101kms quadrilateral task. Perhaps ambitious for the into wind section, as no one made goal. There were unfortuantely two incidents but that seems to go with the territory these days…sadly.

Up on Chabre ridge it never ceases to amaze me how after all these years the launch is still as scrappy with line shredding rocks and stones, and almost impossible to reverse launch without tripping up on the loose rocks stretegically placed for the purpose!  the terrain can so easily damage gliders. It’s such a crap launch, it would be fantastic if the area was cleared like the other french flying sites, but am not sure if the FFVL have the control of the area, I think it’s in the hands of the local commune. Gripe over….

Today we had a late briefing as the wind is here without any uncertainty, blowing 38kms on launch early on, so the day was canned as expected. Tomorrow the plan is to relocate to the Col de Bleine and maybe try to task there but even that isn’t guaranteed, so it’s all a bit up in the air.

So far, we both have really enjoyed our flights, I enjoyed finally getting to grips with my insturment and start gate issues, I managed a good flight, enjoyed it and was happy to be a little further up the scale than my slack British efforts at St Jean! Still it’s all a learning curve and am happy to be back in the comp scene regardless. Funnily enough after I’d hit some ‘not nice stuff’ and thought it was a good time for me to land, I picked a field where I saw one other pilot, as I was coming in you’d never believe who it was???? Yes it was Dennis, I couldn’t believe it, anybody would have thought we were in cohoots!!  very funny….

It was a good day!

August 23, 2011 Posted by | Competition, Flying | Leave a comment

St Jean Montclar and a little bit Wiser!

So we’re back from a fab week in St Jean Montclar!

We had a fantastic time… ok how fantastic it was doesn’t show up in our personal results… but believe you me it was great! – I’ve personally been umming and ahhring about competition flying for a while now not really ‘knowing’ if it was for me… but I have to say, after attending this competition I’m all stoked up for the next one. Really, it was fantastic for me to really ‘fly’ with other pilots and I can’t explain just how much my enthusiasm has been rekindled. It feels like it felt when I first learnt… Finally, I think my head was in the right place, and I clicked into the whole competition ethos, and finally ‘got it!’

Tom Payne, gave a great talk on competition flying, and Adrian Thomas an equally interesting one on glider design and the shape of things past, present and future and it’s looking like a bit of an evolution is happening in the world of design…. an intriguing future lies ahead. We also had the pleasure of the company of Bruce Goldsmith and Robbie Whittall on a fleeting visit up on launch, some people just don’t age do they?!

I didn’t get any ‘results’ to write home about so no bragging rights, anyway, there’s plenty of other’s that have earned that right, but for me, I came away having really gleaned some gems of knowledge, from some silly costly mistakes I made.  I’m looking forward to putting those gems  to good use next week, and build on those errors for improvement at the Belgian Open….

It’s done me no end of good especially now that I realise just how much I need to be flying with pilots of my own level and above to keep me fuelled, and replenished instead of being drained by beginners and low-airtime pilots all the time, no offence… but the air was good, so good for me.

I didn’t take any pics,  just wanted to enjoy flying freely without being concerned with blog pictures… maybe next week?

Meanwhile, back at work but that’s the same for us all in one way or another, and at least it’s only for this week as we’re in preparation for the Belgian Open in Larange, here’s hoping for some keen cumulus and good tasks, and who knows maybe even a better position, after all on that front I couldn’t do any worse 😀 “LOL” what fun!!!

August 15, 2011 Posted by | Competition, Flying, Holiday | Leave a comment

More Comps, and Early Learning

Dennis, not having any trouble climbing out on my little wing...

Bit slow on the blogging front at the moment…. so much happening, busy, busy busy! haven’t taken many pictures either…

We’ve had beginners staying the last couple of weeks, and the last three days we had a couple of fun loving Aussies here, enjoying some big climbs and fast descents!

This weekend gone, has been another competition weekend, not sure who organised this one, but it was another ‘A’ league arrangement, although it was on a

Friendly, 'A' League, Comp Specks!

bit of a shoestring inasmuch as there were no retrieves. Tom Payne was participating as we saw him briefly on launch,  but I can’t find any ‘results’ anywhere. It was a ‘friendly’ comp apparently. It turned out very busy, on Saturday and Dennis was flying my glider again… just checking out the lighter weight issues, so that left me gliderless… holding the car keys!

I had an interesting Friday morning spending time with Roland and Audrey from the A’ccro d’air school, where I was observing their instruction techniques… we had three students on a course with them whilst they were staying here, so it was beneficial for us to share the differences in teaching vocabulary! Dennis was with the Aussies, they were considering a flight out of Chamonix, but the wind was too strong,  they thoroughly enjoyed a good three days of high flying fun though!

Before our new arrivals, Matthew successfully completed his CPC, and would have liked some photos, I did manage to take a few… they’re on there way to you Matthew, You should find them in your inbox soon.

July 4, 2011 Posted by | Competition, Flying | Leave a comment

Competition Weekend ‘A’ List

Lead Gaggle... in pursuit of a couple of lead out racers..

25th June – Competition Day 1

There’s been a competition here this weekend. An ‘A’ Comp, organised by St Gervais Vol Libre. We have an early CP pilot with us so Dennis was working with him on the training hill, to solidify his launches. We didn’t realise there was a competition on until Dennis called me, by then it was a bit late to go up to launch as I could see loads of gliders scratching about in what were very stable conditions. I’d got to nip out anyway, so thought I’d drop by the Lac where they were going to do some ground handling practice, as Competition skies are not the place for an early pilot, especially in über-stable conditions!

I’d arrived at the Lac before they did, and watched the competition gliders gliding along some quite low across the valley. The glides of the leaders were incredible and they were leaving exceptionally low, and making it across the valley, quite outstanding! Whilst I was waiting, a wedding party turned up for some happy couple snaps with Mont Blanc as the back drop, nice setting.

Dennis arrived with Matthew, and it was so still there was barely a breath, well I fancied a bit of a play so did a bit of ground handling with the few breaths there were. There was one niviuk glider heading over that was just a bit too low I thought and sure enough landed at the lake, so not getting very far round the course. I would have liked to have seen the route, but didn’t get the waypoints, I’ll see if I can look it up on the website later.

I left Dennis and Matthew to it, and caught up with them later, as the valley wind kicked in after an hour or so and it all got far to strong. They went to Batistock to check if the conditions were any better there. At last they’ve finally cut the grass at Batistock, which means if we decide to land there we won’t be having to contend with grasshoppers, seeds, long grass and the like. But Batistock was no good for ground handling today, as it was also Goal for today’s competition. So it was back to the ranch.

Day 1 - Tagging (what looked to me) like the penultimate waypoint, then 90º to Prarion.

Later I took Tizzy for a walk and was interested to see where the turnpoints were. It looked like there was one somewhere over Intermarché a number of gliders headed in that direction in a pretty straight line then hung a 90º turn heading off towards Prarion, from there it looked like a stright glide to goal. Nice task, all within the valley, from what I could see. Loads landed out though, dotted about all over the place not getting much height and scraping through a couple of inversion layers… nice task, very difficult conditions good task for the patient or those with the superior glide… as always.

26th June – Competition Day 2

Day 2, of the competition. And…. more stability. We flew Matthew this morning for the first time and he managed to get a good number of flights in before the competitors started to get a bit edgy. A task had been set although no time established for most of the day, finally around 3pm they took off. By this time… I’d driven back down, it’s been so sultry the last two days.

Earlier on launch, there were about 5 gliders launching from Mont Blanc! It was the perfect day to fly off Mont Blanc… absolutely perfect, which isn’t always the case… In fact the whole weekend has been perfect to fly off the Mountain. O! for some lightweight kit! – or a helicopter ride to the top! – or better still a Top landing… that only ever seems to happen every six years, so we’ve got a few more to wait for that to come ’round again.

It looked like the task was set towards the North, in the direction of Samoëns. Again, loads of scraping going on, but a lucky few escaped and managed to climb out and high, cruising out of sight in the direction of Samoëns… the rest were scratching for whatever crumbs of lift they could find. Most didn’t seem to get above 1500 meters, the few that did get away skied out and off..

June 25, 2011 Posted by | Competition, Flying | Leave a comment

Turkish Para-delights…

Well I didn’t get to fly the Omega 8 ballasted up, as the weather turned in so we got on with some chalet work, which always needs doing. A bit grey, grim and overcast today. Not much else to report.

Still having fun on the computer though, especially watching  the Paragliding World Cup, that has been going on in Denzili in Turkey. Don’t know why I didn’t mention it earlier, so wrapped up in it, it totally slipped my mind to let anyone else know. That, and doing the assuming thing, where I thought everyone would know about it! Anyway here’s the link, it’s been a thrilling competition and the amazing times have made it that much more exciting, making it anybodies game and touch at go for the leaders. The new tracking system set-up is excellent ‘when it works!’ it was fun watching the British Open using the same technology, down in St. André and makes it much more spectator friendly! Maybe the face of paragliding xc competitions may be changing?! There are some great videos up there to so if you want to know what’s been going on in the elite paragliding world there it is.

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Competition, Day to Day | Leave a comment