Nepal Open 2013 Task 1

Day 1

 

The weather is set to boom over the next five days of the Nepal Open and day one delivered with great climbs and surprisingly little valley wind to hinder the big transitions.

 

The 55km X shaped task was won Nepal Open regulars Ajay Kumar (IND) with Jamie Messenger (GB) a close second. Wil Brown (USA) stole a march on the lead gaggle to snatch third place on his Mantra 4, by diving in low to tag the End of Speed Section, but then finding himself just 120m off the ground with almost a kilometre down wind of goal. “I saw Ajay and Jamie go, and I said to myself ‘I haven’t just done all this work to keep up with them to lose it now.’” He said of the risky decision that only just paid off. While the rest of the field glided past Brown he clung on to a low ridge taking almost an hour to climb up enough to sneak into goal, long after he’d been written off.

 

Of the 95 starters 60 made goal and there were three reserve tosses on the course which offered a couple of options to reach the furthest turn point. Mitch Riley (USA) and Ivan Ripoll (SPAIN) were among the gaggle that gambled on the longer but potentially faster route to the north. “We were still heading out to the turn point as the field was coming back the other way.” said Ripoll disappointed but smiling after both pilots salvaged respectable results from the gamble that could have delivered big.

 

Tomorrow looks set for an even bigger task.

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Paratales on Facebook

I’ve connected the blog with a new facebook page called Fly With Andy.

You can get to it, and Like it, by clicking on www.facebook.com/TandemAndy

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The trouble with Gopro

The Hero2 is great. They have this great lens, just perfect. And the exposure is amazing, even when you are in front of the sun, the colours are really bright, and it’s white balance is rarely caught out, but…

Ok, strap yourselves in, here we go.

There are 3 main problems which if fixed would really make this a great camera, but as is makes it a frustrating toy.

  • Firstly when you take a picture, just a one off pic, there is about a second delay between pressing the shutter button and it taking the camera. This is supposed to be an action camera. As a stills camera it’s therefore mostly useless.
  • Next up is the mic. Of course the onboard one is shit, but there is no housing that allows you to make use of the socket in the side of the camera to plug in a decent mic. And you can’t use the camera without a housing because there’s no way of mounting it.
  • The file format used for video is a delivery format. It’s great quality, but its not a format which is designed to be edited. Given the way most people use a gopro, letting it run for hours, the footage it generates is destined to be spliced and edited. So the whole thing has to be transcoded before you can even start taking masses of time and disk space.

Then there are the minor niggles.

The casing and the camera need a place to attach a lanyard.

The closing clip is precariously fragile.

There’s no software that comes with it to allow you sort and delete the 100s of images it generates which are of no use.

When you turn it on it has a habit of jumping to the next mode so you have to scroll through all the modes back to the one you wanted. There’s an easy work around for this. You default it to the previous mode, but when you are trying to take some shots while flying you don’t want to be fiddling and looking at the screen.

The time it takes to hold down the switch to turn it on is hopelessly long for an action camera. Instant on what you need when you’re hanging from a paraglider in ratty air. The buttons are sprung loaded with enough force it’s not going to turn on accidentally.

The memory card capacity means that it can record up to 2 hours in the highest definition, but the battery only gives you an hour.

There’s no standard screw on camera mount in the plastic casing.

And then there are all the poor idiots that bough the wifi streaming add on so they could preview the image on their androids smartphones. Check out Gopros facebook page to see how happy (and amusingly vocal) they are about it all.

Oh, and the firmware is pretty badly written making the first cheap memory card I tried incompatible. So you then face the expense of a top of the range class 10 branded card if you want it to record HD video, which you do, because that’s why you bought the Hero2 and not the Hero.

But apart from all this, it’s great. Upload the stuff to vimeo following their encoding parametrers and your video looks amazing. Just a pity that the camera isn’t as amazing.

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Algodonales – Site guide

Within a 30km radius is a series of launches for every wind direction. Have a look at http://flyalgo.com/gps.html for a list of launch codes for the each wind direction. But many of the sites away from the main 3 are soaring sites only.

The village of Algodonales is at the foot of a large ridge mountain with 3 launches (East, West, and the smallest one to the North).

Typically it’s East in the mornings, and that’s where the nicer landing zone is apparently. And West in the evenings. The West LZ is a postage stamp surrounded by power lines, barbed wire, trees and crocodiles. – well, apart from the crocs.

To get to launch I found it easy to hitch with the Spanish pilots. They co-ordinate car pooling up the hill from the West LZ, and that’s a good place to camp if you have a campervan. I tried offering a share of diesel money but they wouldn’t have it. Instead be prepared to run them back up in your vehicle to retrieve the car if no one manages to top land.

The season starts around October, and actually it’s flyable all year, but the best times are Spring and Autumn. June, July and August it’s unpleasantly hot.

Not sure what the classic cross country routes are, but people seem to try to fly to the other sites. But the landscape invites you to go anywhere.

Hitching is Spain is slow going, bring a graphic of a paraglider to hold up, or write Parapente on a piece of cardboard might help. The car park is 3km uphill off the main road. It’s a tough walk from where you’re likely to be dropped off, and alternatively there are plenty of guiding outfits in the town and you can arrange retrieves with them. It’s also worth checking in at JJ’s Bar in town run by Dutch pilot Johan who can give you advice on weather and transfers.

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Artik3 – First flights.

Love it. Great performance. Took me an hour or so to get used to the softness of the brakes, but then I loved it even more. The stall point is really obvious even when loaded up in a hard bank.

The glide and speed just felt slippery fast. You really get a sense it’s cutting through the air.

It has enthusiastic wing tips which on launch make it look like an R11 flailing it’s way into the sky. In flight the tip have a habit of flapping around to remind you they are there. But the hardest thing to get used to is the “soft middle”. It rolls you around and if you or your harness aren’t up to it, you won’t enjoy the experience.

I could live with this wing, and I clocked up my personal best flight on it. Avoid the green if you fly over forests as the guy I was flying with complained he couldn’t see me. If you don’t fly over trees, avoid the green anyway, it’s hideous.

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Air Design Volt and UP Trango XC2

Can’t review these here just yet, as I’ve written a review for Cross Country magazine for both. Get the next magazine for the Volt review, and the Trango will come in the edition after that I think. Once the copyright statute of limitations runs out I’ll post them here too.

But in brief.

Volt – Lovely wing. Great at finding thermals, and has balls on the rear riser that makes you think you’re flying a comp wing.

The Trango – Holy shit! This has an ENC certificate so it makes you think you aren’t flying a comp wing. But you are and you need more than just riser balls to fly it. The overhang in front of the A’s is obscene, but the performance is amazing. If you want a safer comp wing, then this is it. If you want a faster ENC wing, this isn’t.

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Advance Sigma 8 – First impressions

Next up, the UPS man delivered the Sigma 8. People that fly Advance love Advance. They have a reputation of being built like bricks, and they have wing tips. How cool are wing tips.

Given the avid following that is a little akin to a cult I figured these people must know something no one else does. But no having flown it a couple of times I’m having trouble really seeing what there is to be so fanatical about.

Its Ok, it flies fine. And I’ll give it this too: it’s fast. It really motors along, it’s nicely damped in the turbulence that surrounds thermals and when you hit an inversion, and it drifts into the lift really easily. But the brakes seem heavy and the speed bar needs 3 or 4 people to help you push it. The construction doesn’t look that solid. The leading edge looks pretty vulnerable to a slap down on a hard launch surface. The lines look like they were pulled off a trawler that was moored in port for a couple of months. The risers mince around and don’t ever make sense no matter how many times you twist them over and back, and worst of all, when you fly it, you can’t see the cool wing tips. Of all the gliders I’ve ever flown it is the most beautiful in colour and shape.

The philosophy seems summed up by the slide rule that doubles as the A-riser. It’s supposed to help you calculate how far to push the bar given the polar curve of the glider. I’ve read the instructions twice and it still makes no sense. Practically, I can’t believe anyone would actually use this, apart from the Austrian engineer that thought it up. And the whole ethos of Advance seems to be, we make wings that are clever than you, and if you think you are cleverer than other pilots you should fly Advance.

It’s the oldest wing in the test, dating from 2011, but in truth it feels much older than that.

I want to fly it more because I can’t believe it’s as uninspiring as my first experiences on it suggest.

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