Sunday, November 11, 2007

Competition Flying to Win? OR To Fly?

Recently, on a forum I frequent, http://www.paraglidingforum.com I managed to derail a discussion about the relative safety of competition wings to the lesser performance - but safer - wings that us mere mortals fly. The certified, and therefor tested wings are rated from DHV 1 (beginner wings) to DHV 3 with performance increasing as the # increases. I competed on my Sport 2 (DHV 1/2) for a year and a half and now am flying my Aspen 2 (DHV 2).

If I ruled the world, we would have competitions that emphasized 'class' racing so there would be winners in each class. This would allow less experienced pilots to earn their 'chops' while competing against others in their class. I found that my response pretty well encapsulated why I enjoy flying XC and XC competitions so much. Here it is:

MadS. wrote:
As for registering for competitions year after year just to pimp and learn, well it sure isn't a game for me - I strongly feel that if you're doing comps then you must want to win - and in most cases you won't be winning on a DHV 2 wing, so it follows that you won't be having fun on said wing.

My Response:

I know many people who 'race' knowing they won't win. They race for racing's sake; for the experience and comraderie. They are happy as long as they see improvement. I think my experiences echo many.

I strive to win tasks & have worked hard to improve my skills and equipment so my ranking is higher year over year. I've only flown PG for 4 years & comps for two, so I'm in the position where my goals to fly competitively are bumping up against the limits of my experience. I've many thousands of hours in other types of flying machines, so I acknowledge my limits and try to push them without hurting myself (usually). I've had intermediate syndrome in sailplanes, powered A/C, and jets, so I know myself pretty well by now. I want to win & I know I won't on my Aspen 2 without a fluke.

BUT, I AM having fun. I'd hazard to say that I'm having more fun than some of my friends who have flown competitively for many years without breaking through their frustrating 'plateau' and find themselves shaken & spent, while flying their 2/3 in rowdy conditions. I'm 52 & I have over 25,000 hours & I'm bored in the cockpit. But put me on the hill, with 100 other PG pilots and the electricity is palpable. The singular focus of my mind while flying an XC task and the amazing insights I've come away with, make flying comps one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Learning is fun. Even when I place 27th in a national comp, I am proud. Next year I hope to place 26th!

I will, eventually progress to a 2/3, maybe next year - but I'll know when - I won't query the forum. Wink

Tailwinds, and thanks for your contribution to this thread. What do you think about class racing Mads? Pilot vs. pilot - no bells & whistles. True competition. The 2/3 market is well represented by UP, could they use more Trango sales?

Tim

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