This year I chose to put some time & effort into attending as many paragliding competitions as I could work into my otherwise, fairly full life. My wife, Mary, has been very supportive & patient with my single-mindedness. I spent a lot of time flying to familiarize myself with my new wing, the Gradient AVAX XC2, a very nice wing with increased performance and a dream to fly. Rated EN-C, it is able to hold its own with most DHV 2/3 gliders. I also spent a lot of time reading everything I could get my hands on. My reading list included "Secrets of Champions", "Psyched to Win", "Deep Survival", and "Thermal Flying for PG & HG Pilots."
In addition, I compiled some Tips from Competition Pilots off the PG Forum that have given me much to think about. I also found a great resource online at John Cochrane's Glider page.
The results tell a tale -
In Jan '08 I went to Australia to fly the Killarney Classic where I flew my Aspen 2 to 39th place. The flying was primarily flatland flying which was very unfamiliar to me. I learned a lot & even though my results were dismal, I set a personal best of 71 miles when I made goal on the last task. This flying helped to prepare me for Chelan, later in the year.
In June I went to Ruch, Oregon to fly the West Coast Paragliding Championships where I made goal only once. I placed 29th overall and 11th in the Serial class. This was my first comp flying the Avax XC2 and had only 15 hours on it at that time.
In July I went to Chelan, WA for the Chelan XC Open - A pre-PWC event and the Canadian Nat's. There I flew three tasks and made goal on two of them. I placed 35th overall, and 7th in the Serial class.
In September I went to Bishop, CA to fly the 2008 U.S. Nationals. I love flying in the Owens Valley & had a good competition, although we only flew two tasks. One task, of over 100k. had me on final glide with the lead gaggle - placing 15th & only a couple minutes out of the leaders. I placed 22nd overall and 7th in the Serial Class. I also had one of my all-time best flights, on the practice day, from Walt's launch on the Sierra side of the valley. I flew, mostly alone, for 64 miles along the high Sierra to Bishop with wonderful views along the way.
I've had good results in the Northern CA XC League. My Avax XC2 is an EN-C rated wing which put me in the "Cat 2" group. This year I placed 5th overall (behind very good pilots on competition wings) and 1st in my category, ahead of all other DHV2/3 and DHV2 wings. Most of all, I had a great time flying with the BAPA pilots that regularly make these events. I have learned a lot from Josh, Eric & Eric, as well as many other pilots who have flown these events. I've also made an effort to help other pilots who are getting familiar with their equipment and the rigors of XC competition.
The tale, that I think is indicated by the results, is that the more I fly, the more proficient and consistent my flying becomes. I flew my Avax XC2 over 1,500km. (930 miles) in 33 flights - My comfort with the whole comp preparation and planning has also increased during this season.
I'm really looking forward to next year. The US schedule isn't out yet but I will, again, try to fly many comps to improve my flying skills and achieve consistent results..
Fly a lot - fly safe.