Paragliding World Cup 2011: Turkey

‘With the eyes of the (paragliding) world on us…’ Craig Morgan blogs from the Paragliding World Cup in Bayramoren, Turkey, being held from 23-30 July

‘Struggling to maintain the status quo’ … Turkey is the Paragliding World Cup’s first competition after the combined tragedies of the FAI World Championships and the death of Xavier Murillo, the driving force of the PWCA for so many years. Video: PWCA TV

Whilst the paragliding competition world around us enters a flat spin and threatens to implode 150 strong-willed competitors committed to racing open class paragliders have gathered to decide the fourth round of the 2011 PWC in Turkey.

It hasn’t been easy. Xavier Murillo is gone and the PWC organisation, as well as all who knew him, are still struggling to come to terms with his demise. Two more top comrades have also been lost to our sport and their loved ones in the southern hemisphere and all who knew them are still raw. Our hearts go out to them.

Let’s face it – the fallout’s been a clusterfuck. CIVL have knee-jerked in their ‘non-stick’ fashion and we, the pilots, are left to pick up the pieces and deal with it.

Many National Associations have banned the open class wing under wishy-washy ‘guidance’ from CIVL who have thrown them out ‘temporarily’ amidst a sea of statemented guff and circumlocution. If only they’d grasped the issue earlier and acted.

Accordingly the underwriters of our insurance policies have wobbled and many a PWC pilot has been frantically seeking clarification in this last week. We think we are covered – but would you trust them if the shit hit the fan?

PWC are struggling to maintain the status quo. Open class is still ‘in’ but some new safety parameters are going to be tested out. The most exciting being a 3D goal cylinder/ line. For example, pilots must cross the goal line at 300 metres above it to finish the task. Reaching the line below the designated altitude merely completes the end of speed section. This is aimed to reduce cavalier attitudes to safety on final glides and promote creative solutions.

Turkish Sami is in the hot seat. He’s cooler this time. Tempers were frayed at the Superfinal last year in Pummakale. Sami gave it his best shot as meet director and took the flack when things went wrong. It shows the character of the man to come back for more.

His backer and main sponsor, Tahsin Tekin, has styled out all concerned with the PWC. Free accommodation and food has been provided at the sumptuous Termal Hotel. Equally, he has made a huge statement of his intention to look after us from a safety angle. At the appropriate time this morning he had his swish new chopper set down in the hotel’s grounds in front of all concerned. Partnered by four 4X4 ambulances, he should be able to get to us quickly if anything goes wrong. Clearly – he’s THE MAN ….

Xavier Murillo’s workload is being shared by Nicky Moss who’s taking technicals, Ulric on scoring & tasking issues and Goran on others. XM and Goran had agreed several seasons ago that starting a comp off with a minute’s silence for the deceased gave a bad vibe and was negative Karma so the best loved Meet Director in the world was privately remembered by his flock in our own particular fashion. God rest his soul.

Today, Saturday 23 July, warm-up day, was a relaxed affair. Most pilots arrived late last night and endured an arduous transfer from Istanbul to Bayramoren via an all-night shuttle bus. The drivers couldn’t arrive before our hotel was ready for us and the next morning so literally most of the night was frittered away in bazaars and crazily busy service stations. What are hundreds of Turkish folk, young and old, doing up at 4.30am in a service station eating, shooting the breeze and washing their cars. Ahh the great complexities of travelling foreign shores!

Most pilots were somewhat cranky today as a result and as the wind blew a gale on take-off today many put discretion before valour and didn’t unpack their wings.

The opening ceremony has now thanked all the local dignitaries, provided mountains of free tucker and now many pilots are gainfully getting stuck into the piss, err hitting the hay.

Either way – more tomorrow.

Competition website
Paragliding World Cup Association
Paragliding World Cup TV (Vimeo)

Craig Morgan is current British Champion: read an interview with him here

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