Friday, July 30, 2010

Kinsley Thomas Wong needs your help & support

Kinsley Thomas Wong, (many of you know him as Kinsley Wong) was involved in a very serious kiteboarding accident recently. Kinsley has always been very involved in advancing the sport of paragliding, especially in the early days with his forum on Big Air Paragliding. He's continuted to support the paragliding community even now with his on-line store and school. If you've met him, you know he's one of the happiest most optimistic guys around, and he always has a smile for you when you show up to fly, whether you're new or experienced. Below is a copy of a letter from paraglider pilot Marina Chang, who is setting up an effort to help Kinsley and his wife Jamie, please check it and, and check out the website mentioned in the letter for more information. Thanks everyone.

For those who have not been informed, Kinsley ThomasWong of Xtreme Big Air was involved in a kiteboarding incident in San Luis Obispo County, CA, on July 15, 2010, resulting in trauma to his head and spine. While his prognosis is uncertain, the medical costs and potential future care costs are immense.

To be proactive on behalf of the ThomsWong family, several friends have taken the initiative to reach out to the kiteboarding and paragliding communities for help. Though Kinsley has insurance, it is 30% co-pay until a certain amount paid is reached. Meanwhile the costs for the medevac, ICU, surgeries and upcoming extended-stay treatment in the spine care recovery unit in Santa Clara have and will continue to be been astronomical. Also, some costs of care and recovery simply won’t be covered by insurance, while long-term care needs could be a distinct possibility.

Many of us have been graced by Kinsley's selflessness, kiteboard/paraglide advocacy, passion for the ocean/air, and unique jovial spirit.

In particular, the kiteboarding and paragliding communities are considered Kinsley’s extended family. At the same time, we all realize that while we fly or kite solo, kiting and paragliding is a community sport where we have all likely been helped out of a jam by another at some time. Kinsley has elevated so many lives and has promoted both sports passionately, including the annual KiteXpo (Expo) in Pismo Beach. We would like to give back and hope you will join us in our outreach effort by donating to his health and recovery costs. Please also help us spread the word of this effort through your own networks.

We have created a website dedicated to Kinsley’s progress. Here, we will keep you all posted on Kinsley’s recovery progress on the Kinsley Condition Log and Blog links on the website’s menu. You can make comments on the blog link, or, post your own thoughts, photos, stories and electronic greetings (these are great to show Kinsley!) on a new facebook page we created just for this purpose (Friends of Kinsley ThomasWong). Under the “what you can do tab” on the website, you will find information on how you can help support Kinsley and Jamie through the Kinsley Thomas Wong Donation Fund.

Contributions can be made by check, paypal or directly to Bank of America. Unfortunately, donations to one individual for any philanthropic purpose, such as illness, are not tax deductable. But, donations are considered gifts and are not taxable income to the beneficiary. Additionally, unless the donation is specified ‘anonymous,’ at some point we will acknowledge those that contributed individually or through businesses (no amounts specified). All other information is confidential.

Donation checks can deposited in any Bank of America branch for the Kinsley ThomasWong Donation Fund.

If you want to send a check by mail, please make checks payable to Kinsley ThomasWong Donation and send to:
Melinda Thomas
26 El Viento
Pismo Beach, CA 93449

Thank you all for your kindness and support.

All our best,

Marina Chang, Steve Davies & Kipley Lytel

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 Chelan PWC - Day 7 - Task 6


The day started slowly and lift was weak at the Butte. The start gaggle, once again was an unorganized mob, roaming for any available lift. There were two groups heading North from launch. Those that I flew with, crossed to the rim & the flats before turning North. The other group headed over the Chelan airport & to the high ground on the West side of the gorge.

Those of us who crossed to the rim were, soon, desperate. I found myself circling in zeros waiting for someone to get established in lift. Finally my zeros became 150'/min and everyone came to me. The lift continued to bloom to 600'/min. and the race was on. A few of the pilots I flew with dirted at the rim; others bombed out prior to making it across. For the next 35K it was climb/glide/repeat until approaching the Brewster area. I found myself getting low and dove into a spot that seemed likely to produce lift. This was my last act - before landing on a dirt road next to the wheat fields South of Brewster.

The group that proceeded along the West route made good time until reaching Brewster where they found broken thermals and strong winds from the SW. Many of both groups dirted South of Brewster. The few that made it back to Chelan had trouble hitting the 400M cylinder around the Chelan Butte. There were 7 in goal today. Josh Cohn scored well enough to cinch the podium.

Top-Ten are:
Josh COHN USA Niviuk Ice Peak Eagle Paragliding
Nicholas GREECE USA Ozone Mantra R10.2 Eagle Paragliding, Flytec
Yasushi KOBAYASHI JPN Gin Boomerang proto Fly Gin 
Ayumu MIYATA JPN Gin Boomerang 7 Aerotact-JPA
Jack BROWN USA Ozone Mantra R10 FLYAboveAll
Len SZAFARYN USA Ozone Mantra R 10.2
Ulrich PRINZ DEU Gin Boomerang 7
Dean STRATTON USA Ozone Mantra R10.2 Flytec & Eagle
Andre RAINSFORD ZAF Ozone Mantra R10.2
Carlos Daniel GOMEZ VEN Gin Boomerang

My new Gradient Avax XC3
Five of the Top-Ten are from the USA - a great showing for the first PWC on US soil in 18 years.  Congrats to Josh, Nick, Jack, Len, and Dean.  All the top-ten pilots deserve respect for enduring the long rough tasks assigned during the Chelan PWC.  I really had a great time.  Doug and Denise Stroop did a great job of running a fun, friendly comp and I hope they can be convinced to do it again.

Results are HERE
My Flight is HERE

My performance during the first two tasks was fairly good (in 44th place after two tasks) but the last three tasks were not my best effort.  I made some serious mistakes that put me on the dirt before really getting into the meat of the tasks.  I finished the comp in 66th place.  With any luck I'll learn from the mistakes I made and improve my flying before the Sun Valley Nat's in August.

Fly Safe

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Chelan PWC - Day 6 - Task 5

120Km task from CHELAN BUTTE to 50K arc to CHELAN BUTTE to GONAM PEAK and back to SOCCER FIELD.

The task today was simple, cross a 4k exit cylinder around the Butte, fly out to the East 50K and then return to cross a 3k cylinder around the Butte, fly to Gonam Pk then to the Soccerfield.  It is conceptually an easy task to visualize and fly, but it gave fits to some who couldn't figure out a way to program it into the computerized GPSs that we use to navigate.  I had three GPSs on board today, my trusty Garmin 76S and my Flytec 5020, and a new Flymaster B1 NAV.  The Flymaster was the only GPS that allowed the task to be programmed directly.  The others I just set reference points and used their indications to provide range information for the turn back to Chelan Butte.

The 50k radius and restricted zones

I launched early and flew for an hour or so before the start.  The lift was weak and fickle.  At times there were 80-90 pilots all between 5500 and 7000' roaming around for any lift.  When one wing began a turn the collective would gravitate towards the area crowding into one big massive (and unproductive) rotating swarm of frustrated pilots.  To make it even more fun, every once in a while there was a pocket of particularly snotty air to put somebody into a rockin' & rollin' recovery among the throng of gliders trying to avoid him.  Eventually I got high and boated around with 10 minutes to the start.  I found a nice core and racked it up in the tight thermal for a few hundred feet, all by myself and before everyone attacked my thermal, I rolled out in perfect position for a nice run at the start cylinder.

A North to North West wind was forecast and lower climbs than on previous tasks, so we all headed slightly North of course line.  I was doing OK for the first few thermals, but started noticing that pilots who allowed themselves to get below 3000' AGL were struggling to find and get up in thermals.  I changed gears a bit and used the 300-400'/min. climbs to get me to 6000' or so before moving on.  Eventually I was working with a couple of Swing Stratus' a U4 and a Boom 7.  We made the 50k radius and I turned for Mansfield on the way back.  The NW wind at altitude had picked up and it was slow going to head West.  I worked the best lift I could to minimize drift and maximize speed, but the lift seemed to be spotty South East of Mansfield.  At one point I led out and must have gotten distracted while eating my energy bar, because when I looked back, the guys were going up and too far away for me to reliably get to their spot.  I drove on with the hope that I would also stumble onto lift, but it didn't materialize.  I landed South of Mansfield and had a retrieve in about 15 minutes.

The guys who were in the lead gaggle and second gaggle did a great job of getting back to the rim, but their struggles weren't over yet - The Butte was in shadow and not working very well at all.  About one half of the wings who made it to the rim ended their day without reaching Gonam Pk.

Xavier wearing his "more likely to be picked up
when hitch-hiking" T-shirt 
This task may be giving the scoring software some fits, like it did our instruments.  Xavier is French and has a distinctive way of thinking that doesn't seem to play well with computers - go figure ;-)

Rumor has it that there were 10-20 in goal.  It looks like Jack Brown may have won this one.  The live leader board is down at the moment so I'm in the dark too.

Results will be HERE when they become available.

I covered a little over 72K . . my flight is HERE

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gradient XC3 - Impressions after some XC Competition Flying

For those who are watching this blog for info on my experiences with the Gradient Avax XC3, I can say this - It is one sweet wing.  My hope was that the wing would retain the handling of the XC2 while displaying increased performance, and the guys at Gradient pulled this off magnificently.  

The wing feels and responds to inputs much like the XC2; so much so that I felt very comfortable close to the terrain and flying strong, rough thermals over the flats of Eastern Washington, on my first flights of the Chelan PWC.  The trailing edge is a bit firmer than the XC2 without that 'stiff-brake' feeling exhibited by the Gin and Niviuk EN-D wings.  The brake travel is about the same as the XC2 but I find the XC3 to have less spin tendency than even the XC2.  I still haven't reached the spin point while flying the wing in very snotty tight thermals.  The wing is very good at communicating the location of the 'bubble' core of the thermal.  The wing is very communicative while not being jittery or twitchy.  The ride is pure Gradient - not stiff and rough - more cushioned but firm. . .

There have been reserve tosses every day in Chelan but my wing has been purring along with nary a tuck.  I was able to get the wing to frontal while flying at 3/4 bar on the practice day (my first real flight on the wing) and was able to save it by reducing the bar and a brief, sharp, tug on the "C" risers to keep the tips back.  The frontal promptly popped out and away we flew, on heading and on speed again.  I love this wing -

I'll explore the corners of the envelope more when I'm in better air & less gaggle traffic -
The build of the wing is still very light but durable.  The ribs at the leading edge are reinforced with partial mylar laminations with plastic 'strimmer lines' about 3/4" from the leading edge of the wing, running from the top of the nose of the airfoil along the bottom edge to 5" or so beyond the "A" attachment points.  There are 'gibus arches' incorporated in the ribs along the "B" attachment points.

On the third task of the PWC the conditions at launch were very light and fickle.  The launch queue was moving very slowly as many were having fits coaxing their 2 and 3-liners into the crossed light winds.  I laid out and brought the wing up easily, built it on the way up and got off the hill easily - Much like the XC2 in it's easy ground handling.  I used "As and Cs" alot on the XC2 but am using the brakes and As on this wing because it only has the 3-lines.

Speed-bar is fully usable and very effective.  I can feel that beyond 3/4 bar the glide is affected quite a bit, but 3/4 or less is very effective in keeping up with comp ships.  I had many transitions where I was gliding with comp ships and getting to lift sources at the same altitude and time as they.  Flying this wing gives me the mind-set that I'm on a competitive wing.  I don't have any direct comparisons against the few GTOs and Omega 8s, here in Chelan, but the Boom and R-10 pilots flying with me are indicating that I'm getting excellent transitions with them.  Climbs are also very good.  The sink rate has been improved from the XC2 and the handling is good enough that it's possible to use the rough lift more effectively than the less maneuverable ships. 

Landing is simple - enough said?

These are my early impressions, but I think that there is little lurking for me to discover.  I've been flying in rough conditions for 5 days now and am very happy with this wing.  Highly recommended for pilots with the experience to fly a high-end EN-D wing, especially recommend for pilots who like the gradient handling and/or have experience on the XC2.


2010 Chelan PWC - Day 5 - No Task Due to Wind

A well deserved rest for those who flew long distances yesterday.   Some of the pilots who flew to goal had flights approaching 8 hours in duration.  Lots of respect goes to those who fought the fight and made it around the 150+ kilometer course.

I'm going to rest & regroup.  I'm taking a bit of time to relive the mistakes that put me on the ground only 32K into the task yesterday.  After the excitement of making goal on the first two tasks, and holding 44th place in my first PWC on a serial class wing, I've had two bad days of flying in a row and now sit firmly in 73rd.  We should have a good couple of days on Friday and Saturday, so I hope to improve my score with some successful flights.

Results for the Chelan PWC can be viewed HERE.

If you want to play "Where's Waldo" watch this video and try to find me -
Hint: 3:51 and 6:50


2010 Chelan PWC - Day 4 - Task 4


From the looks of the weather forecast, the task called seemed reasonable.  Unfortunately conditions on course were not as forecast, with stronger winds from the North and somewhat weaker climbs than expected.  The combination of factors put a lot of pilots on the deck prematurely and made the day, for those pilots who made it back to Chelan, a very long one.
The lift over the Butte, prior to the start, was a bit weak and fickle.  This caused the 100 pilots to roam hungrily for the best scrap of lift.  When the 1:15 start time elapsed everyone headed across the gap to the rim of the Columbia.  Once established on the rim, things went well.  It was immediately obvious that the North component of the wind was going to be a factor and most pilots flew well North of the courseline.  This strategy worked very well since some of the climbs around Mansfield became very weak, causing pilots to frisbie downwind into a position where all they could do was penetrate back into the wind to start the entire process all over again.
Heading across to the flats

The clouds were filling in well by now and it looked like great conditions.  Occasionally I encountered a snotty thermal, but generally lift was on the weak side.  My day was a short one as I passed through a couple areas weak lift looking for better, only to be decked 10 minutes later by some serious sink that just never ended.  I landed about at 32K - Mainly mad that I had squandered a fantastic looking day.

The day went better for most - 25 pilots made it more than 100K and 8 pilots made it to the Brewster School waypoint.  Once at the Brewster TP, it was a downwind leg to goal.  We had 6 or 7 pilots make it into the goal field but only one pilot, Jack Brown, made it before the goal close time of 8PM.  He crossed the ESS at 7:33pm and made it to goal just in time.  The other pilots were unable to get to goal by 8.
Jack in goal
Happy Jack
Thursday looks windy and we may get a bit of rest -

The top 5 on Wednesday -

Jack Brown
Ayumu Myata
Len Szafaryn
Nate Scales
Nick Greece
Scores can be found HERE

For those who would like a video taste of what it's like up here try this video or these..

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

2010 Chelan PWC - Day 3 - Task 3

Today was my character builder . . .
Some people think that everything happens for a reason, and others just think "shit happens".  I'm not sure which camp I'm in but today was my character builder.  I launched about 30 minutes before the start time and had plenty of time to get up & over for the start, but once in the air I never achieved launch altitude.  I gave it a good fight but the cloud had consolidated, putting much of the Butte in shadow, and a group of us just couldn't wish, hope, or cuss our way back to launch altitude.  So I've built some character - but let's face it, a guy can only handle so much character. . .
The task today was a 120K+ task from Launch to Brewster School to Bump in the Road to Gonam Pk to the Soccer Field LZ.  The radii of the turnpoints was 5K and 10K so the actual length of the course was about  100K.  There were considerably more cumulus activity today than on previous days and conditions looked great if you could get away from the hill & get established on the rim.  

I just got back to the room and the task has been stopped due to rain on the course.  See the photo below for an indication of how things were looking shortly before the rain began.  It sounds like the task will be scored using 17:10 as the stop time.  Josh, Jack Brown, Eric Reed, and Brett Hazlett were all close to the finish according to the SPOT page, check back for scores.

Scores will be HERE   I expect to get less than 10 points today, so my standing will drop considerably.


Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 Chelan PWC - Day 2 - Task 2

The weather today was well suited for the 119K triangle task.  This task was the final task of the 2008 XC Open and gave many pilots fits on their final glides into goal.  Today was no different -

The task was from Launch to Farmer to Leahy and back to land at the soccer field LZ.  The winds were generally light and, although a consideration in choosing a line, not too much problem - especially if you stayed high.  Climbs were strong and tops were around 11,000' with some cloud.

The pace was fast from the start but I had a weak start - a bit late and just low enough to automatically put me one climb behind from the beginning.  I pushed things a bit, trying to make headway on the leg to Farmer.  As usual, I got one of the best climbs of the day over the silos at Farmer and felt reinvigorated as I climbed above 10,000'.  The slog to Leahy was a bit slow as we searched for a good climb before heading into the (usually) sinky area around Leahy.  Today there were actually climbs near the 3k cylinder and soon we were on our way to goal.  I say 'we' because I flew with a lot of people today.  I only occasionally really felt like I was working with anyone and they with me - that meant it was slow going. . .

The photo shows what it looks like when you are behind, on a Serial class wing, in a PWC event.  I knew there would be some drama for those who pushed this course too hard, so I just flew my race and tried to make good decisions.  Unfortunately, I got tired and started doing dumb things.  My "final" glide into goal, for example, was started three different times and I still needed an epic effort to get to the goal field after making the ESS at 10K from goal.

Here's a piece of my track that shows my ridge soaring the last 3 miles to goal.  It was not the most relaxing 20 minutes of my flight.  I landed straight-in and cleared the finish line by 10 feet. . .

The top 5 pilots today -
Josh Cohn USA 
Dean Stratton USA 
Russ Ogden GBR 
Mark Watts GBR 
Jack Brown USA 

I've made goal 2 for 2 now and am very happy with my standing (unofficially) among the other Serial class wings here - Omega 8, GTO, Mantras etc.  Yesterday I was first among the serial class and today, I believe I was 3rd on my Gradient Avax XC3.
Results are out and I'm holding 43rd overall and 1st in Serial (unofficially).

More good flying to come this week!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 Chelan PWC - Day 1 - Task 1

95 Kilometer task - Launch to FARMER to COULEE CITY to ALMIRA.

The day started off looking grim, with gusty winds off the lake.  Soon though, it mellowed and we were able to build a long task to the East.  The start queue was unregulated and it was obvious that everyone was going to try to get in the air well before the start time because the start was a 15Kentry cylinder with it's line 12K away from the launch.  We had a good start with the armada of R10s lumbering a bit ahead.  The climbs were spotty at times and very rough in places, but there were also the occasional 1000'/min. smooth big thermals that make me smile. . .

After making it to Farmer we headed to the 'choke-point' at Coulee City to keep the group over the roads.  Then it was a X-wind glide to goal.  I flew a lot with Keith Mac today and we always felt behind and slow, but in retrospect we did some things right.  

It looks like I made the top-50 today (42nd place at the moment - but scores are still coming in) and that was my goal since I'm on a serial class wing and flying among the elite in our sport.  My Avax XC3 is getting good reviews from those who are flying with me, on their comp wings - "it goes good."  From my standpoint, it is a dream to fly with no bad habits or scariness.   I'm loving the handling of the wing and it's performance is good enough that I'm rolling out of climbs with comp ships and gliding well enough to stay with the gaggle.  Speed bar is fully usable and feels very efficient to 3/4 bar.  Beyond 3/4 bar the speed increases a bit, but the glide does suffer.  The speed is very good at trim and on bar.  I finished about 30 minutes behind the leaders with a 2:36 and the winners were 1:53 on this 95Km. task.  

So end of day one and the top-5 are:
  1. Nick Greece (USA) 
  2. Andre Rainsford (South Africa)
  3. Jack Brown (USA)
  4. Dean Stratton (USA)
  5. Frank Brown (Brazil)
Jack Brown is blogging HERE
Nicole McLearn is blogging HERE
The next few days look great (higher, lighter winds, and cloud to mark lift) so I'm looking forward to some good tasks and fast flying.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 Chelan PWC - Practice Day

Today was the practice day for the Chelan PWC.  Tomorrow is the first day and it looks like it will be stellar.

The conditions today were very nice for a lazy 60k out and return to Mansfield.  I launched and waited for the formation of a gaggle to cross with.  Eventually a group of R10's and Booms and various others joined to cross the gorge.  My new Avax XC3 did very well on the crossing and I had plenty of altitude to join the search for lift on the East side.
Once we made our first climb after the crossing it was an easy flight that even included unforecast Cumulus clouds at 11,000'.  The climbs were generally well-behaved with rates of climb over 1000'/min. at times.  The wind also cooperated to allow an easy return to the soccer field and ride to the check-in and orientation by Doug and the PWC folks.  My flight today is HERE.  The international flavor of this event is refreshing.  There are certainly some exotic looking wings and protos in this event so I expect to see a lot of exciting action -

My new Avax XC3 is really comfortable to fly and is already impressing me with the way it is hanging with much of the field.  There are many GTOs flying in this meet, as well as a couple Advance Omega 8s, so it will be a good measure of the XC3 . . .I just hope I get the most from my tools, by making good decisions and flying smart -

The weather looks great tomorrow so let's get it on!


Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 Chelan XC Open Results

Friday Update -  The last task on Thursday was a short and fast, with many pilots getting stuck early in the task.  For all these reasons, the task was devalued and the day's winner, Dean Stratton, only earned 605 points.   The top-5 ranking changed little in the OPEN CLASS -

  1. Russel Ogden
  2. Jack Brown
  3. Andre Rainsford
  4. Josh Cohn
  5. Brad Gunnuscio
Chris Galli flew the CRAP out of his GTO on the last day, placing 3rd for the day - Nice job Chris!
The SERIAL CLASS top-5 are -
  1. James Thompson from Australia, (not bad for a guy who can't speak the language)
  2. Arnie Frankenberger 
  3. Marinus Brenkman 
  4. Chris Galli
  5. Luis Rosenkjer
Rounding out the WOMEN'S CATEGORY - 
  1. Melanie Pfister
  2. Cherie Silvera
  3. Chrissy Drunk
  4. Meredyth Malocsay
  5. C.J. Brockway

All the scores are available on the website.
Thursday Evening Update - The final task was a dash to the East to WITHRW and then to goal at Simm's Corner.  A short task that took in the neighborhood of 2 hours.  None of the scores are out yet, but you can bet the boys were racing hard today.
 Results for task 5 will be available HERE and cumulative scores will be HERE.  
Congrats to all, not only the winners, but those wherever they finished in the standings - An epic flight is a personal event and scoring has little to do with the import that a great flight can have on the psyche.
I just arrived in Seattle and hope to get a ride to Chelan in the morning.  With luck, I'll get my first high-flight on the XC3 and find the corners that are important to explore when flying a new wing.  The Chelan PWC starts on  Sunday the 18th and it looks like it will start off with light winds and more classic Chelan weather.

Wednesday Evening Update - The task today was an out and return to near Leahy, down to Mansfield, then South to near WITH07 and back to the Soccer field at the bottom of the Columbia River gorge.  Expect to see some shakeup of the top 5 is all I'll say . . .  
Results for task 4 will be HERE and cumulative scores are HERE.
Serial overall standings are HERE and woman's overall are HERE.

Tuesday evening update -

The task today was over 100K to Wilbur (East of Almira) and over 50 pilots made it to goal.  Score aren't out yet & I'm headed for bed - The day three results will be HERE and overall will be HERE
My new Avax XC3 arrived today and I got a chance to kite it for an hour or so -  It is a nice wing, well made and easy to manage.  I'm really looking forward to flying it soon.  Seeya at the PWC.
Monday Afternoon update -
By getting creative, and typing in 'task 2' into the task one URL, I have found a scoresheet for the Sunday second task.  Apparently it was quite windy on launch, and in the air - many pilots chose not to launch, and many others ended their flights at the soccer field. For those who made it out, on course, it sounds like it was scary-fun as the winds kicked in.

As a matter of fact, only 24 pilots covered more than 20 kilometers of the 77k task.  The scores  for task 2 can be seen HERE.   
Cumulative scores are:
  • HERE for Open Class
  • HERE for Serial Class
  • and HERE for Women's Class.
 Jack Brown, one of the three pilots in goal, has a blog entry HERE


Monday Morning Update -
The Chelan winds are forecast to blow today.  I doubt a task will be called, but stranger things have happened.  

Sunday Evening Update-
It looks (from the SPOT page) like the task was canceled today.  Jack Brown & Josh Cohn took a tour and flew East, to Sims Corner then up to Leahy, ending at Sims.  The rest of the field (using SPOTS) ended in the soccer field, which leads me to think the task was called off.

The 2010 Chelan XC Open has started and I'm a spectator for this one -
It sounds like classic Chelan flying.  I can't wait to get in the air there, next week.

You can join me in living vicariously by visiting these blogs:

Results are on the Chelan XC Open website now -
I have a page with the Open results, updated daily, HERE.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gradient XC3 - First Impressions

I received my new Gradien Avax XC3 yesterday and kited it for an hour.  Today I flew 2 sled rides off a 700' hike-up to check the trim and handling of the wing, before I head out tomorrow to fly in the Chelan PWC.

Here are a few of my initial impressions.  I'm sure I'll have more meaningful info next week, after climbing in 8 meter/sec thermals and pushing the bar all day.  But for those of you who like the minutia, and are looking for any info about this new wing, here's a bit -
My Background: 
Most Recent Wings: Gradient Avax XC2-26 (220 hrs)Gradient Aspen2-28 (120 hrs) – Airwave Sport 2 (200 hrs) – Gin Bandit (40 hrs) – Edel Confidence (80 hrs)

The XC-3 is a 28 meter wing (100k-115k), standard blue color.  The bottom of the wing is all white with a small Gradient (smileyface) logo at the centerline at the leading edge and trailing edge of the wing.  The blue is a lighter, baby blue, than the blue used on my previous Gradient wings (Aspen 2 and Avax XC2). I chose the 28 since I'm flying a heavier harness now & the XC3 is a meter smaller than it's XC2 counterpart.

The lines are thin, unsheathed Edelrid Aramid - 1.2mm to .5mm in a 3-riser configuration which reduces line length by about 20%.

The risers are thin but robust, with “snap” type brake handle stowage and nice swivels on the brake handles. 
The speed system on the XC3 is a 2-pulley system and is easier to use than the one-pulley XC2 system.  I really didn't find the one-pulley to be a problem, but the XC3 will be much easier to modulate and hold speed for those long transitions.

Workmanship is excellent.  The wing ribs are thin material with a mylar type of reinforcement along the lower surface.  A 'strimmer-line' reinforcement runs along the lower surface beyond the "A" line attachment points.

The Aspect Ratio of 6.8 and 3-line configuration made the wing a different animal while ground handling, but using A's and brakes was very effective in controlling the wing without the Aspen like launch into the air.  The tips seem a bit more 'sticky' on the XC3 than they were on the XC2.  I'll be watching this more next week, but in the small assymetrics I pulled today, the tips needed patient pumps to come out.  Control was very good during the recovery.

Launch is very Avax XC2-like. The wing comes up easily and can be stopped accurately with brakes or rear-risers. Directional control is good. No bad habits.  

Landing was very straightforward.  Good control and no problem deep in the brakes during the swing-through flare.

Like I said, I will (hopefully) get 15-20 hours on this wing in race conditions, next week.  I'll have much more meaningful info then.

For my complete bit of feedback on flying the XC3 go HERE.