Gin Team Pilot Joanna Di Grigoli reports on the Gin Wide Open 2018 – including the coveted Best Trousers prize!
The Gin Wide Open in Ager, Spain was a blast with 82 pilots from 16 countries.
Following an amazing training task on Sunday, pilots enjoyed flying six valid tasks in various conditions. The tasks ranged between 39km and 62km and took pilots around the Ager valley and behind the Montsec range.
The weather was tricky sometimes, but the task committee did a fantastic job at setting the tasks and getting lots of people in goal.
This year, the area had lots of snow and rain, so the landscape was unusually green and conditions were less windy than usual. However, those looking for good conditions were able to enjoy some strong thermals.
The aim of this competition is to teach pilots how to compete, use their GPS and most of all: to have fun while doing it! Prizes were awarded everyday not only to task winners, but also to goal virgins, the most luminous pilot on launch, best trousers, and brilliant thermalling, among others.
Every night, debriefs were held at the tent in the landing field in which Gin team pilots talked the competitors through the day’s task and analysed some tracklogs. Also, some talks were given throughout the week on how to use a GPS, fly faster, and XC flying. The talks also served as a great means of exchanging ideas and for pilots to know each other better.
A photo contest was organised and pilots were motivated sending creative photos both from the air and from the ground.
Temperatures increased during the week, as well as the length of the tasks, and pilots were able take a dip in the lake after making goal at Chiringuito, after a long task. The organisers were always happy welcoming each pilot in goal with a cold beer or soda.
Because it’s not just about competing, an evening flight was organised after one of the tasks and pilots were able to enjoy flying at sunset and recharging with positive energy to fly the next day. BBQ’s and parties were also part of the schedule.
The FIFA World Cup was also part of the schedule and thanks to the facilities at Camping Vall D’Ager, pilots were able to enjoy the football games on a big screen with a cold beer.
On Friday night, many pilots visited the local planetarium and observatory that offers a great stargazing experience.
After the prizegiving ceremony, the moment all pilots were waiting for finally came and a few lucky pilots took home a glider, a harness, a rescue, software licenses and more.
The comp was won by Bernd Hohlmeier (DE, Skywalk Poison X-Alps). Nicola Möckli (CH, BGD Cure) won the Sports Class; Sunith Rao (IN, Ozone Rush 5) won the Leisure Class; and Carrie Thomas (Ozone Alpina 3) won the Women’s Category. Team pilots were not included in the podiums.
Pilots gave very positive feedback and it was very rewarding to hear comments such as “My best flight ever!” and seeing lots of happy faces in goal.
For me, as a team pilot, it was a great experience and I learned a lot from flying and talking to pilots starting in competitions. I loved talking to pilots, answering their questions, and encouraging pilots needing some motivation.
It’s great to give something back to the community that has given me so much throughout these years. I started competitions on my own and had to figure many things by myself, so I think events like these are great for helping new pilots discover the fun world of competitions and to motivate them to continue.
Paragliding stars are born somewhere and it was interesting to spot talented pilots we’ll no doubt hear from in the future.
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