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2007 US Paragliding Nationals

By Rob Sporrer for Paragliding Magazine

The two big US paragliding competitions for the summer of 2007 were held in consecutive weeks by Mike and Gail Haley and all the dedicated volunteers who make it all possible. Kevin Biernacki was also at the Nationals as co-meet director.

There was quite a bit of discussion in the months leading to these two paragliding events. Some folks were upset that the events were being run so tightly together, and more were skeptical about the nationals being held in Lakeview, Oregon, which is renowned to have very windy conditions. The shallow sloped Black Cap launch in Lakeview offers a small window to find a thermal and connect before having to land and hurry back up the hill for a re-light.

At the end of the two weeks of flying, we celebrated two successful events, and 10 pilots successfully completed the longest task in US National’s history of 145 kilometers.

The bar has been raised in the United States. Making goal every day does not guarantee you are going to be in the top ten anymore. You needed to fly fast if you wanted to see your name near the top of the list on the scoring sheet in the morning.

Here’s how the three tasks at the US Nationals shook down.

Task one was an 84 kilometer task with three turn points. This task sent pilots from Black Cap to a turn point 50 kilometers to the north. The next turn point was 32 kilometers back to the south, and a final short 4 kilometer leg back into the wind to the north. Nobody made goal on this task. The northern turn point, Ennis, proved to be challenging, and getting to this turn point took a good part of the day for most pilots.

There just wasn’t enough daylight left after pilots hit the Ennis turn point. The day still proved to be valid. Kyndel Banister won the day on his Mac Para Magus 4 even though Josh Riggs flew further than anyone on his Airwave Magic 4. Kyndel scored bonus points for leading during the race. Hayden Glatte took third on his Gin Boomerang Sport. Marty DeVietti arrived back to HQ pretty late after going deep into the back country on his Airwave FR3, and landed only 5 kilometers behind the leader.

Task two was a 69 kilometer task with three turn points. The task committee was challenged in setting tasks with the SW flow we experienced the next two days. Generally a task committee attempts to make the hardest part of the task toward the end of the race, most times this will include and upwind leg to goal.

The wind direction made it difficult to make the first part of the race as easy as the task committee would have liked. The task could not be set to go downwind in the first part of the race without forcing pilots to fly committed lines over tiger country. This course line would also make logistics and retrieval options a nightmare for the chase vehicles.

“Cut off” was the name of the first turn point which, was over 20 kilometers east of the start cylinder. The strong SSW flow made it a challenging turn point to tag. Pilots found good climbs above 12,000 feet in strong lift which drifted them to the northeast. After the good altitude gains, most found nothing but sinking air and a stiff headwind as they left on glide toward the “Cut off” turn point. Some of these pilots landed in the enchanted forest and had a bit of hiking. This was a challenging leg, and it was unfortunate it had to be conquered so early in the task.

The pilots who did get the “Cut off” turn point, and found a climb after reaching “Cut off” got as high as 16,500 feet in the convergence on the remaining 45 kilometers of flying towards goal at Flagstaff Lake. A handful of pilots ended up short of goal wishing they would have tanked up in the convergence before getting into race mode. The convergence was unleashing in the valley close to the town of Plush.

Nineteen pilots made goal on task two. Josh Cohn won the day on his UP Targa prototype, Frank Brown took second on his Sol Tracer, and Dean Stratton took third on his UP Targa 3.

Meredith Malocsay was the last pilot into goal after marking lift for the boys all day on her Ozone Addict. Australian Peter Warren also raced well on his Niviuk Artik, finishing 11th on the day. These two pilots proved the task was doable for DHV 2 gliders if you knew how to climb well and fight the good fight.

Task three was 145 kilometers with five turn points. Task three would be one for the record books. The task was the longest ever called in US Nationals history, and ten pilots would find themselves at goal and in the record book at the end of the day.

This long task was similar to the task called the day before with “Cut off” set as the first turn point, and a long downwind run with a string of waypoints heading northeast. Pilots seemed to want to get upwind of the “Cut off” turn point before gliding toward it after battling the wind the previous day.

We saw a whole new strategy and different lines on Day Three that we had not seen on Day Two. The wind seemed to be more west down low on the way to “Cut off” on task three, but was still southwest at the turn point. The “Cut off” turn point took many pilots out of the race once again.

Those who did get the “Cut off” turn point still had over 120 kilometers to cover along the rest of the task to make goal. British pilot Jamie Messenger was the overall point leader going into the final day after two fourth place finishes on the first two tasks.

Jamie had a good start and got away early on his Ozone RO7 with Rob Sporrer on his UP Trango 3. Jamie stayed out front for a good part of the day but ended up landing 37 kilometers short of goal. Some of the pilots who made goal were patient and worked together in small gaggles, while others made gutsy calls charging ahead leaving lift and getting low believing they would find another climb before hitting the deck. The final glide of the day came down to Frank Brown, Dean Stratton, and Dave Prentice. Frank ended up winning the day on his Sol Tracer, Dean was second on his UP Targa 3, and Dave took third on his Gradient Avax SR7. Here are the ten pilots who made goal on the longest task in US National’s history.

    Place     Pilot                      Wing                      
1. Frank Brown Sol Tracer
2. Dean Stratton UP Targa 3
3. Dave Prentice Gradient Avax SR7
4. Kyndel Banister Mac Para Magus 4
5. Brad Gunnuscio UP Targa 3
6. Matt Beechinor UP Trango 3
7. Marty DeVietti Airwave FR3
8. Matt Dadam Gin Boomerang Sport
9. Hayden Glatte Gin Boomerang Sport
10. Josh Riggs Airwave Magic4

Task 3 turned out to be the last task as the wind took hold the remaining days. A task was attempted on the final day, but it was canceled by Mike Hailey and Kevin Biernacki because of unsafe conditions due to strong winds. Some pilots were upset, but Mike and Kevin made the right call. Josh Cohn and Matt Dadam got on course and landed going backwards. Josh confirmed later at head quarters that it was the right call.

Brazilian Frank Brown was the overall winner in the end. Dean Stratton took second place overall, and was crowned the 2007 US national champion. Kyndel Banister took third overall, and had a great few days of flying.

Jamie Messenger made a fine showing as always finishing fourth overall. Matt Dadam, Matt Beechinor, Marty DeVietti, Dave Prentice, Hayden Glatte, and Josh Riggs rounded out the top ten. These guys flew great all week, and always seem to be near the top of the leader board.

The Hawaiian contingent represented well by having a good group of pilots at both the Rat Race and the Nationals. We hope all these pilots can make it out again next year. Tim Kuenster is back in a big way. He was racing well and ended up taking second in the serial class.

The awards party was a great time. Gail Haley got the hot tip from Steve Roti and booked the Moon Mountain Ramblers. Eric Reed led out as we all went into a frenzy and ripped it up dancing until the wee hours on a warm Oregon night.

2007 US Nationals Final Results

Overall Results
    Place     Pilot                         Wing                
1. Frank Brown Sol Tracer
2. Dean Stratton UP Targa 3
3. Kyndel Banister Mac Para Magus 4
4. Jamie Messenger Ozone Wing
5. Mat Dadam Gin Boom Sport
6. Matt Beechinor UP Trango 3
7. Marty DeVietti Airwave FR3
8. Dave Prentice Gradient Avax SR7
9. Hayden Glatte Gin Boomerang Sport
10. Josh Riggs Airwave Magic 4
Serial Class Results
    Place     Pilot                         Wing                
1. Peter Warren Niviuk Artik
2. Tim Kuenster Gin Zoom Race
3. Tim O'neill Gradient Aspen 2
Womens Results
    Place     Pilot                         Wing                
1. Kari Castle UP Targa 3
2. Meredyth Malocsay Ozone Addict
3. Cherie Silvera Gradient AVAX XC
Masters Class Results
    Place     Pilot                         Wing                
1. Mike Steed Nova Tycoon
2. Jack Brown Advance Omega 7
3. Tim O'Neill Gradient Aspen 2

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