Are paragliding competitions good or bad?

I used to hate paragliding “comps” (competitive events), but started to enjoy participating in them since I was at the”Serial Cup” last year in Slovenia.

The main reason why I did not like them is that you had to fly a hot glider and the guy with the biggest balls had the best chances. This statement can easily backed up with the accident statistics.

At the last years “Serial Cup” it was fun, safe and very educational as the tasks where designed for average pilots flying average wings.

Following are some questions which cover what I like and not like about competitions.

Why are we going to competitions?

I think to have fun, meet new people, measure your self (same category of wings, tasks and conditions), experience and share the same with your peers.

What do I not like about competitions?

Can easily push you flying in conditions you normally would not fly in. It also can make you use equipment you should  not be flying and can make you a nervous pilot.

I just came back from the Canadian Paragliding Nationals in Pemberton.

I only could join the event for a couple of days as I needed to head back to do my part for the upcoming www.LakesideEvent.com. Pemberton is a great site and has super nice people. Thanks again to everyone for your hospitality and kindness. I loved it and and I will be back again.

Now thinking about the Nationals a couple days after, the only part I did not like too much (and this has nothing to do with the site and organizers) is that the Nationals are advertised for everyone, but the tasks are designed that only by about 10-20% of the participants make goal. Less then a quarter of the pilots were using the high end “D” wings which do have a definite advantage to finish the tasks and a big part of the remaining pilots get discouraged. It was interesting to observe how many people measured themselves in what they fly and how a lot of others where not so proud to state they would “only” fly a “B” rated wing.

I think the overall concept of Paragliding competitions need to be evaluated.

Right now we do have a hand full of pilots training for competitions and using the best available equipment, then we have the “wana be” comp pilots flying wings they should not fly and then we have the average to good pilots flying “B” rated wings.

If I would compare this to the car racing world, this would mean our competitions are done by Formula 1 pilots, “wana be” Formula 1 pilots/wings, “standard sports car” wings and pilots.

Seeing it from this perspective, this does not make a lot of sense.

I am all for the “Formula 1” races (wings/pilots) and they should compete at the “Paragliding World Cup” series only and the rest should focus on the main group of people the organizers are advertising to.

With this statement, I like to stress that I am in full support of the organizers of the current Canadian Nationals in Pemberton, but I think we need to re-think to who we want to cater our only official Canadian Paragliding competition to, in the future. I think we have a lot of recreational Canadian pilots who like to go to a competitions to learn, have fun and maybe to evolve into the professional paragliding circuit.

 

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