Event reports: Bright Open & Paragliding World Cup 2018
We take a look at two recent paragliding events: The Bright Open and the subsequent opening round of the Paragliding World Cup (also held at Bright) and speak to some of the participating pilots, (including PWC national champion Peter Slade) to see how their skills and piloting expertise have been triumphantly put to the test.
BRIGHT OPEN 2018
With 101 pilots competing, the 7-day Bright Paragliding Open 2018, which took place between 10th-16th February around Bright’s Mystic Flight Park, became the largest event in its history. HGFA Treasurer Brian Webb, who helped coordinate the event, shares his insights on how it all went down.
“Three tasks were undertaken, which was a little less than we would’ve liked. When the weather was good it was excellent but when it was poor it was difficult…”
Winning the Bright Open was Jouni Makkonen from Finland, while taking second and third place were American pilots Josh Cohn and Cody Mittanck respectively.
“The leading Aussie was Wally Arcidiacono who came fourth and then a Japanese visitor, Yoshiki Kuremoto, with two more Australians (Alex Yaschenko and Peter Slade) after that. Kari Roberson secured 10th place, consolidating her firm grip on the top 10, watch this space…” concludes Brian encouragingly.
Seen as a warm-up to the subsequent Paragliding World Cup this year, the Bright Open, which was praised for its organisation, helped to ensure pilots were well prepared for the succeeding larger event.
“A lot of people that were competing in the PWC were also at the Bright Open, so the standard was pretty high,” acknowledges 32 year-old pilot Wally Arcidiacono.
“Weather wise, we had better conditions that week so it was far more race friendly …the tasks were much the same and weren’t any more technical than those in the PWC event but the standard was just as high. The saturation of good pilots was much higher than we’ve ever seen.”
“I love the challenge and ever changing nature of the sport and just the fact that the learning curve never finishes – it changes but it never finishes,” considers Wally on his attraction to paragliding in particular.
“It’s an adrenaline rush and the racing aspect is more about the emotional dynamics of racing: sometimes you’re ahead and you’re feeling happy and other times you get stuck and you’re behind…the emotions with that and keeping yourself calm and moving on…I do like that part of it.”
PARAGLIDING WORLD CUP 2018
For the first time in two decades, Australia hosted the first round of the highly anticipated 2018 Paragliding World Cup in Bright, Victoria. Taking place between the 17th-24th February, 120 of the most accomplished Race Cross Country Paragliding pilots from across the globe participated in what was considered one of the most competitive and prestigious worldwide events of its kind.
The event consisted of daily competitions among the archetypal high peaks and valleys of the Victorian Alpine region and was flown from local hang gliding sites including Bright Mystic Valley, Gundowring and The Pines. Each race challenged pilots to fly routes at altitudes of up to 3,000 metres with racing speeds of up to 80 kph.
We spoke with pilot and PWC Aussie champ Peter Slade about his experiences and achievements during this thrilling and most prestigious paragliding event.
INTERVIEW WITH PETER SLADE:
What were the highlights of PWC for you?
To race against some of the world’s best pilots, such as Honorin Hamard, Jurij Vidic among others in one of my favourite Australian paragliding locations. Also, for Bright, Australia to be showcased to the world as a great location for highly competitive cross-country racing.
It’s certainly an historic event, being the first time in two decades that the PWC has been held in Australia…can you talk more about the significance of that?
Having this PWC event here, thanks to the foresight and hard work of the organisers, will help pave the way for future PWC’s here and hopefully a PWC Super final; the world’s most highly ranked and hotly contested cross-country race competition.
The exposure of Australian Pilots to the highest level of international competition will boost the quality of Australian pilots, improving the level at home and boost Australia’s ranking on the WPRS world ranking system.
What were the thermals like and weather conditions overall?
We had two fast racing days with 2300m base and up to 7m/s climbs, tasks of around 85km. Then, unfortunately the sky turned really overcast but thanks to good task setting it ended up being enjoyable racing tasks with around 55km flown in technical, slow and fast sections.
How happy were you with your performance?
The first task did not go to plan at all as I was unable to make the start gate near the start time. The focus after that was to qualify for the PWC superfinal. Going into the last task I was in sixth position but unfortunately I was unable to improve that position by not connecting to anticipated climb close to goal. It was a tough competition for a lot of pilots, so I was happy to get what I got, a ticket to the super final and have a great time!
How proud are you with becoming the national champion?
I don’t like to feel proud as an emotion, but the Australian championship has been something I’ve been working hard at for three years now. I’ve chosen the right glider/ harness, was fortunate to get some great international comp experience, including competing for Australia, and have matured with my comp tactical decision making skills that allowed me to win this year.
Congratulations on your terrific achievement and thanks for your time!