Comps and Events, News

Paragliding World Cup 2012, Sun Valley: Normal service resumed

Monday 20 August, 2012

A good start to the comp sees Craig Morgan on form as he leads out on Day 1, Task 1 of the Sun Valley PWC…

Launch on Task 1 at the Sun Valley PWC. More at PWCTV

The day dawned dull and overcast with a possibility of thunderstorms forecast. Off we toddled for the customary pre-comp pilot meeting. As the roll call was made for pilot cards it was like the Eurovision song contest – only worldwide. Australia, Austria, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Israel, Jupiter, Japan, Korea, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, UK, Venezuela. Who ISN’T here? But seriously, very cosmopolitan and very convivial.

Mikey Pf (Pfau) president of the SV paragliding association gave us the lowdown and said it would be taskable today but with an eye out for the storm clouds. So off we went up the super deluxe gondola ride (social coffee first at the foot of the mtn) and to the restaurant up top for task setting and final pilot briefing. All good – a 67km set and down to take off for a dusty ordered launch. No dramas there (although I was amongst the 1st off so I wouldn’t have seen any even if there was!) And away.

The air mass was by now completely different with clear (ish) conditions and strong sunshine beating down. ‘This is more like it’ as I climbed away in my own private 4up all the way to 14,000ft where I joined up with various other pilots none of which I can recognise these days due to too many wing similarities in the air. The thermals were busy in places but sensible. No hanky panky and plenty of acknowledged hands out if we strayed too close to one another. Cool.

A 45 minute wait at base and whoosh – we were off. Just how I like it – half a dozen in front of me not too low (could’ve done with a little more vertical) but suitably ‘tucked in’.

Over the town and onto our first ridge. Russ Ogden slightly ahead revealed a sweet line and we just sneaked over the first bowl where an Enzo below scoured round without success. I pressed on over the spine back and boing – a rowdy ripper chucked us about and hoovered us away. The parasites then came in on us wild west pioneers and shared the fruits of our bravery. Fair enough.

A huge dark valley then fell away beneath us and beckoned us to the South, a) into broken sunshine and b) to swerve the dodgy looking dark clouds to the North. All went well and as I stumbled into our next ascent I fiddled with my Go Pro camera and almost lost the gaggle. Wattsie’d [Mark Watts] gotten low so rolled the dice and charged out front to find a killer climb that would put him back in the game. It presented itself and Mark duly banked his Enzo in tight and squealed up in front of us. Good man. There’s none braver and when Wagga’s in the gaggle everything is alright. Unbeknownst to me, Guy and Emile were there too, learning the dark art of lead gaggle flying.

These certified wings go well but they aren’t R11s. Even though you can’t grab a task by the scruff of the neck and make a wicked break that may win you the race the reverse prevails. You can’t make a mistake and get dropped behind, or you’ll simply never catch up.

Finding myself in a reasonable position I accepted the challenge of pushing on toward the only turnpoint but first had to get under a big ugly black cloud. For 3km straight lining I got sucked up at about 5metres per second and pondered my chances of getting past the cloud before being sucked in. As I got to the wispies and with a k to go the lift diminished and it started to hail on me! Time I thought to radio in and advise the organisation of an upping of the stakes and called a level 2. Drat!

As I came out of my personal fixation I glanced North and to the rear and saw all hell breaking loose in the form of a snarly hail rain storm chasing us down. “This will defo get canned” I thought “so crack on now son and grab whatever distance you can”. Level 3s then piped up on the radio and it was a fait a compli. American hardman Dean Stratton pulled up alongside me and together we eased off the front running as the official decision came to pull the plug.

It took a while to land but by the time we did the storm had cleared and everyone agreed it was the right thing to do. However, the task hadn’t gone on for long enough and none of our sterling efforts would score at all. Double drat! Another good finish gone to waste!!!

However, the forecast is good for the rest of the week and again the scenery we are flying over is, if you take the time to look at it, stunning. The drive home was amazing. A valley scene straight out of a John Wayne western movie unfurled and my mind wandered over what it must have been like to have pioneered these territories and have locked horns with the American Indians.

Live Tracking throughout the comp: www.livetrack24.com

Info: PWC Sun Valley

Craig Morgan: Craig Morgan’s blog posts

Results and info: www.paraglidingworldcup.org

Discussion: PGforum thread

Flying map of the area

View Fly Far in Idaho’s Event Map in a larger map

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