The last task of the Paragliding World Cup 2011 in Turkey sees Craig Morgan blow it, Luc Armant crash and speculation again hang over the safety of Open Class
Day 7 Task 5
100 – odd k task to goal.
Oh dear oh dear – oh dear!
It’s a catastrophe!!
We changed take off today due to contrary conditions opposing the forecast.
The task was set and several early birds bombed out due to cross winds scouring and suppressing the thermic lift. One glider took a big collapse which focused the watching waiting sweating pilot’s attention. I chatted with Luc [Armant] as more pilots struggled to stay aloft. Several guys took leeside ‘uglies’ in between the ridges.
Luc took off and joined the scramble. Moments later a gasp went up and I span round to see Luc’s R11 collapse asymmetrically cravat and stall. It rotated and plummeted from 50 metres up and Luke piled in!
Eventually he emerged, ok and walked himself back with assistance from the services. He took off again but the symbolism had already been created as Frankenstein had attacked its creator.
The Meet Director persevered and took condition reports from those airborne pilots who’d managed to climb away from the danger. Unsurprisingly they reported Level 1. As the danger was on take-off and in the wake of Piedrahita the concerns flooded in but the Meet Director stood his ground…
I didn’t like it at all and reluctantly took off as red mist was in attendance and I needed to fly just to defend my leading position.
It wasn’t great but eventually most of us got up. Twenty people chose not to take off for reasons best known to themselves.
We headed across the gash and lee sided in some more squeaky weaky’s. In my concentration to stay in lift I committed a school boy error and ignored my instrument. I missed a turn point and headed off with the gaggle on to the plateau.
Four k later it dawned on me and I knew I was done. I headed back, however, regained the mark and headed off alone. Catching up with a few tail-enders the conditions improved and we made steady progress in the convergence.
A lot of leading pilots had bombed out and, after the wind had picked up more, the task was eventually stopped.
The results are now academic as controversy roars in the hotel HQ. Many pilots are pissed off, asking why was this risk taken today?
Luc is in hospital with a compressed fracture of the vertebra.
Pilots are hopping mad and a petition against the task is gaining momentum. I haven’t signed it for personal reasons. But the reality is clear. This competition will sign the death contract of Open Class gliders and competition organisers must be held accountable to their cavalier attitudes to pilots safety.
I really enjoyed the competition until today and will leave now with mixed feelings. Turkish hospitality has been second to none. But, honestly, I am personally very disappointed to have lost this competition in controversial circumstances.
And what about the two- liners? As a comp pilot it’s hard not to fall in love with the hardest racing wing any of us have ever flown. You ask any nutter if they’d like to have a spin in a Ferrari?
Luc will be reticent I’m sure. But the sum total of seven reserves, two tree landings and at least two pile ins (not all R11s) is a hard record to defend post Piedrahita.
Until the next time…
Craig, over and out
Craig finished 4th after the last task was scored.
XCmag.com: Thanks Craig for all the brilliant blogging throughout what was undoubtedly a stressful event. Better luck next time.
If you liked Craig’s blogging, leave him a note in the comments section below.
1st Stephane Drouin (FR)
2nd Raul Penso (VE)
Craig Morgan is current British Champion: read an interview with him here
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