The Multiclass Hang Gliding World Championships’ official trailer, which clearly shows the different classes of hang glider in the competition
The Multiclass FAI World Hang Gliding Championships is taking over the skies above Annecy in France from 21 June to 5 July 2014. The UK’s Richard Sheppard explains what it’s all about and who are the pilots to watch…
1. What’s happening?
From 21 June until 5 July, Annecy in Haute Savoie, France will be the venue for the FAI World Hang Gliding Championships in four separate classes:
The 13th Women’s Class 1 Championship
The 1st ever Sport Class Championship
The 19th Class 2 Championship
And the sixth Class 5 Championship.
The Championships will be hosted by Delta Club d’Annecy, which will be using over 50 volunteers during the competition and has to its credit the organisation of several world and national events.
2. What does all that ‘Class 1, Class 2’ business mean?
For the uninitiated, here’s a simple description of what the pilots will be flying in each class:
Class 1 hang gliders are the conventional topless weightshift flexwings that have a best glide of up to 16:1.
Sports Class hang gliders are similar to Class 1 except they have a kingpost and top rigging to take negative loading and glide at around 12:1.
Class 2 gliders are foot-launchable rigid wings controlled solely by aerodynamic surfaces and with provision to have the pilot enclosed in a streamlined enclosure, which means they have a glide of over 20:1 that degrades less at higher speeds than it does on conventional hang gliders. Eg, Swifts.
Class 5 gliders are also foot-launchable rigid wings that may have aerodynamic roll control initiated by pilot weight shift and where the pilot is unfaired in a harness just like a conventional Class 1 glider. These have glide angles approaching 20:1. Eg Atos Air rigid gliders.
3. Why is it in Annecy?
Anyone who has visited the Annecy area will know that it offers several excellent local launch sites and good road and communications infrastructure.
In addition to the conventional well-known mountain launches such as Col de la Forclaz and Semnoz, the competition will be using Mont Bisanne just above Albertville and Le Sire, located between Aix-les-Bains and Chambéry. The Class 2 gliders will have their own aerotow launch site at the Doussard landing area at the southern end of the lake.
And besides the Doussard landing area one of the goal fields will be situated at Annecy itself, near to the lake, in an area known to the locals as “Pâquier” which should make for some exciting and crowd-pleasing moments at the end of each day’s flying.
4. Who’s taking part?
With a total of 107 confirmed pilots from 18 countries this promises to be a great spectacle.
Each Championship Class will set its own tasks and routes in accordance with the performance parameters of each wing type – and hopefully bring everyone into goal to entertain locals and tourists and show them all what a fantastic and dynamic sport foot-launched flying is.
Big names at the event and ones to watch include last year’s winner, German aviatrix Corinna Schwiegershausen, who has carved more Worlds notches onto her uprights than she probably has room for. Six times British Women’s Champion Kathleen Rigg will also be fervently trying to add a second Worlds title trophy to her mantelpiece.
Tom Weissenberger, flying in the Sports Class, who recently flew an astonishing out-and-return of 353km on the Chilean coast, is sure to be eager to want to return home with a winner’s medal. France has the largest entry of nine pilots vying for the Sport Class title including last year’s Pre-Worlds winner, Fabien Garing.
Famous names flying the high performance Class 2 gliders include the likes of hang gliding legend and previous World Champion, Manfred Ruhmer and that talented multi-disciplinary flier Andy Hediger from Argentina.
Class 5, with 41 confirmed pilots, will be a hotly contested competition and Tim Grabowski of Germany will be sure to put much effort into defending his Pre-Worlds win at Annecy last year. Oleg Skirko of Ukraine is the only pilot not flying an ATOS glider and as such deserves a mention and a shout of “Go Oleg!” from here!
5. Where to find out more and follow the action
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