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2007 Canadian Paragliding Nationals

Oh Canada!

By Rob Sporrer for Paragliding Magazine

Where were you July 29th through August 4th 2007? There is no way to sugarcoat things. If you weren’t in Golden, BC at the 2007 Canadian Paragliding Nationals you missed what Bill Belcourt called one of the best week’s at a paragliding competition ever. Golden has some of the best flying in North America--a long west-facing range with a broad, landing-friendly valley at the base. We had amazing climbs over spectacular landscapes in flying conditions that came to be described as industrial.

It wasn’t just the flying that was amazing. The people who were a part of this event on all levels formed “The Collective” as meet director Will Gadd put it, and everyone stepped up to help make it a week of flying and fun. None of us who were there will ever forget the week we shared at Mt.7.

The Organization of this event set precedence for how a competition should be run. Everybody worked together responsibly, and there was always the threat of being thrown in the river if you didn’t report in at the end of the day. Will and the rest of the Collective struck a perfect balance between having a fun loose event and being organized not missing any details. The race leader sported a Canadian hockey jersey, while people who brain farted got to wear a pacifier around their neck all day which most folks around the world call a dummy. In the spirit of the collective I have taken excerpts of what Will Gadd posted to the web site, and added some of my own impressions to the article.

Our first task started out windy, then a perfect evening "raging glass off." The Flytec Competinos won't recognize tasks that start after about 5:30 p.m. Where else can you fly 40K with a start at 6:30? The funny thing is that we could have flown a lot further; people were still well above the peaks at 9:30. Farmer wins the day with Marty DeVietti running the course twice after missing a turn point since his GPS was not set to metric.

Task 2 was an 82.5 task down the range to Spur Valley. This was another solid task in solid conditions with lots of happy people at goal. Jamie Messenger wins the day. Will Gadd came up 11K short of goal after charging hard in the lead all day.

Day three was blown out with no flying. We had an epic game of volleyball fueled by beer instead of red bull.

Task 3 was the flight Will Gadd wanted to bring everyone to Golden to do, and a lot of pilots had their longest flight in both time and distance. We flew from Mt. 7 down the valley to Invermere, a 110K flight. We had lots of happy pilots in goal, with many pilots flying for six or more hours. It was a very good day. Our excellent scorer, Bill Hughes, won the coveted Log Cabin award when he blew up on the way to goal, but was courteous enough to land under reserve in some trees we could drive to the base of. Marty DeVietti wins the day on this huge task.

Day 4 a relatively short (57K) task was called after the day looked to be a little weak and late. Then it turned on with pilots getting to 13,000 feet, Golden just kept giving us everything we could handle! Farmer takes another task!

The task on Day 5 wasn't the longest task of the meet (55K) but it was definitely the most exciting. We did some back and forth on Mt. 7 before heading north to the hamlet of Donald Station. The day had the possibility to over-develop, so the task was short in order to get pilots on the ground early. It looked stable and not so nice on launch, but when it turned on it went huge, with many pilots reporting their strongest climbs ever. There was some reasonable southwest wind on launch, which meant taking extra care to stay out front of the main range and away from potential rotor.

The bizarre thing was that at the goal field between the ground and about 2,000 feet it was blowing 20-40K out of the northwest. This made landing there technical, so many pilots arrived high enough to turn around and fly back a few K to the south, where the wind was light.
The atmosphere at the Muller Windsports dinner was excited, lots of hands in the air and "so there I was!" stories. Day five showed us the "big" side of Golden. Will Gadd won the Day!

Will Gadd claimed Task 6 gave some of the strongest conditions he has flown in and I have to agree. It was just booming. They called a short task due to risk of over-development. There was a lot of yelling in the thermals along the lines of, "Damn! This thermal is insane!!!" We started the meet with mellow evening conditions, but the conditions just got stronger and stronger every day until the last day put on a show of how strong Golden can be when it turns on. Once again Will Gadd won the day.

We had one accident that required a heli sling off the mountain, but no serious injuries in the end of the comp, which is a compliment to all the pilots.

Big congratulations to British pilot Jamie Messenger for winning the overall. Jamie was in position to win all the big comps in North America this summer, and finally got the win he has deserved after a brilliant summer of flying. Farmer and Keith MacCullough were also on the podium in 2nd and 3rd place overall. These guys flew consistently well all week.
You can see all the results for the different categories of this event at Will’s Web Site. We need to give some props to Bill Morris for winning the “I Never Competed” class, and also placing 22nd overall.

The purpose of this event was to run a high-level meet with an emphasis on developing new competition pilots with the focus on good flying with friends. In the end it was a complete success.

Pilots and the rest of the collective enjoyed a wonderful breakfast every morning prepared by the wonderful ladies in the kitchen. Muller Windsports sponsored some dinners in the evenings. I ran around with Chris Muller at the pre-worlds in Brazil. We had a great time, and Chris has to be the nicest person I have ever met in my life. It was nice to spend some time with his mother Vincene. We quizzed her about flying in the Canadian Rockies, and she shared some great stories about the flying in the area, and some of the big flights made by Chris and his father Willi. The annual Willi XC event was held right after the nationals.

The Golden Eco Adventure Ranch is the ideal spot to base a competition. They had wonderful facilities and a nice big landing zone for us. Most pilots would head for the lake on the ranch at the end of the day for a swim in the chilly water.

We need to give special thanks to Bill Hughes. He is the man behind the curtain scoring comps. He somehow managed to score till the wee hours of the night and race like a mad man the following day. Will Gadd wore every hat imaginable and still managed to send it big on the tasks often getting off very late in the start window after making sure launch went smoothly for the rest of the field.

Lee and David Menzies flew over from Oz to drive and help organize the event. They were unbelievable and made transportation and other logistics a breeze for everyone. If you get down to Oz be sure and look them up.

Thanks to Keith MacCullough and Nicole McLearn for helping run things with Will. The task Committee was made up of Will Gadd, Bill Belcourt, Keith MacCullough, Nicole McLearn, and Amir Azadi. They did a great job all week of calling tasks which were perfect for each day’s conditions.

The biggest thanks goes out to the collective. Everybody contributed in some way to make this event so special. We will see you next year for more of the same.

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