07 February 2009

Finally bagged

Yesterday's last task in the Paragliding Worlds was stopped, to allow helicopters to rescue two pilots. As nobody had reached goal yet this meant the task was invalid and did not change the score. Those unfortunate pilots are both reported to be stable into recovery.
I was just about sufficiently fit to fly in the morning and was amongst the first to take off for the 85 km long task. Conditions were blue, with light winds, and relatively weak thermals but significant turbulence in the sheer layer. I was in the leading group to cross the valley towards the Elefanten turnpoint behind Valle. We ended up very, very low over the foothills at the other side and me and several others were forced to land while the other 8-10 that were only 10 meters higher managed to get slowly up.
Teammate Ari never heard that the task was stopped and flew into goal thinking he had won the day and that all the other top guys had bombed out. Some indeed had, like me, but most of course landed when the task was stopped.
So the comp ended in this strange way, but in the evening we had a nice price giving ceremony, and a good party. Collectively we flew more than 125 000 km to determine that Andy Aebi, Elisa Houdry and the Czech team are the new champions.

For Finland the results are mixed. Ari ended up in excellent 15th place, no Finn ever ranked that high in the Worlds. Jouni had a bad first week with tree landings etc., but showed good form in the last tasks. I flew a couple of good tasks, but had difficulty adpating my speed to the field and the conditions, and was nailed down by illness. One comp we will all get it together, and we now know that we have what it takes to challenge the very best in the world.

As was expected the local organization was downright perfect, and the hospitality of the town and its people just wonderful. This combined with the great weather and flying conditions makes for a perfect comp setting.
The accidents were sad as always, but nwo finally seem to have triggered a serious discussion about various safety issues that I expect to result in some actions in the upcoming CIVL meeting.

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