Saturday, October 2, 2010

2010 PWC Superfinal Results and some News

The US team is heading home from Turkey and they can hold their heads up high.  After 7 tasks in 11 days, the US pilots all flew well and brought home 5th place in the Team standings, of which Cross Country Magazine says, "In fifth place was Team USA. The seven pilots flew strongly to show that they are now a true force on the international stage."

Congratulations go to all seven guys:  Nate Scales who was the highest scoring US pilot, at 23rd - Josh Cohn placed 28th - Eric Reed at 49th - Len Szafaryn at 54th - Nick Greece, who was leading after task two, finished at 59th - 2010 US Nat'l Champion, Jack Brown, at 88th and Brad Gunnuscio at 92nd.

Thanks for representing the US Comp pilots and flying well! 
Final Results are HERE

The PWC format, for the foreseeable future, will retain the 'Superfinal' format, with 5 regional tests before selecting the qualifiers for the Superfinal.  This format was overwhelmingly approved and will continue to improve the chances of US pilots to qualify, and participate in, the highest level competitions in our sport.

On an interesting note; The PMA has announced:
“The PMA believe that from the material point of view a significant way to improve safety in FAI cat.1 competitions is to restrict them to EN–D gliders. Open Class gliders have their place in competitions but FAI cat.1 is not that place.”
Read the full Cross Country article HERE.

I've gone on record as being in favor of such a move, and I still believe it would help our sport grow and improve the quality and safety of our competitions.  I do believe that there is a place for full-on racing (uncertified) ships for use in the PWC that will provide a venue for the highest performance and R&D for the manufacturers.  Much like Formula One and America's Cup racing, there is a place for the spectacular performance of a "cost is no object" type of class*, but I feel that competing mano-a-mano on whatever performance wing will provide better 'sport' for a larger market.  Admittedly, I am flying an EN-D wing in competitions and this obviously biases my opinion, but my choice of wing is due to my opinion that my EN-D wing provides a increased margin of safety and handling not exhibited by competition wings.

I am not cynical enough to assume that the PMA decision is to boost sales by requiring serious competitors to purchase a Cat 1 comp wing and another to fly in PWC events - I hope they feel it will stimulate the market and expand it.  Am I naive?  I hope not.

Do I think Cross Country Competitions will become safer?  Probably not.  Quite simply, it's the stuff between the ears that, ultimately, provides a safety margin.  You can fly a Cessna 150 into trashy air & the result will be ugly.  Pick your line intelligently and fly safely - THAT's the measure of a good pilot. . .
* By 'cost is no object' I mean $$ is no object. . . Unfortunately in the sport of paragliding, the cost to compete on the highest performance wings can mean the cost is your personal safety - This I find unacceptable.

Fly Safe,

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