ST. PAUL, MINN., — A significant period for hang gliding competition, two events in Florida and a smaller version of Bassano (Italy) just finished. Over 100 pilots signed up to compete in each of the twin Florida tow contests with the total field divided 75% flex wing, 25% rigid wings. Flex and rigid flew in different classes, barring direct comparison. No competing glider had a kingpost. So many tugs were available that better than 100 launches were made in less than an hour. ••• Both events were won by reigning X-C contest guru, Manfred Ruhmer on his signature version of the Icaro Laminar. He’d have won Bassano, too, probably (instead Bob Baier won on his Litespeed), but the Bassano meet was so off-and-on-again that many top ranked pilots skipped it. Online pilots can read long, detailed reports on the Oz Report (davisstraub.com) and others can read stories sure to follow in this magazine, but I’ll take my usual view of what got flown, by whom, plus a few other tidbits. ••• You might think the composition of each meet was identical, that pilots would merely go from one contest to the other. In fact, my survey of the gliders used for these meets was perhaps 20-25% different. You get some idea of this based on what countries were involved. Both meets attracted no less than twelve nations. Team USA was the largest contingent, of course, but barely managed half the field at Quest (57%) and was under half at Wallaby (47%). In clear second place at both venues (the same pilots in this case) was the 18%-strong British group. Brazil was weaker at Quest (4%), stronger at Wallaby (13%). Most other countries had less contestants (1-5%) and most of those pilots attended both meets. ••• Of this international crowd flying flex wings, Moyes brand was unquestionably the strongest, at 31-33% of the field for Quest, then Wallaby (as all numbers will appear). Next closest was Icaro at 20-26%, followed by Aeros (24-17%), Wills Wing (16-9%), La Mouette (4-6%), Avian from the UK at 3-4%, and AirBorne (1-3%). At the end of each event Quest showed 74 entries, while Wallaby listed 76. • Among rigid pilots, A.I.R. and their ATOS swept easily with 46% of the field at Quest and 54% at Wallaby. Well distant was Flight Designs and their Ghostbuster at 29-21%, followed by Brightstar at 11-12%. A pair of Guggenmos ESCs and Aeros Stalkers rounded out the fields of 28 rigid wings at Quest versus 24 at Wallaby. ••• Of Yankee flyers amidst this global gathering, Paris Williams shown brightly with back-to-back 4th place finishes against the best in the world. Excellent job, Paris! As he flew the new Talon, Wills Wing is surely smiling at their sponsorship of this up-and-racing pilot. In other names doing well in one or the other contest: Jim Lee (WW Talon) was 8th at Quest, while Chris Arai (WW Talon) was 8th at Wallaby; Kari Castle (Moyes Litespeed) was 10th at Quest and will again qualify for the U.S. World Team; Jerz Rosignol (Aeros Combat) was 11th at Quest, while Mike Barber (Litespeed) was 13th at Wallaby; Bo Hagewood (WW Talon) managed 18th in both meets and will make the World Team as well. Other Americans in the top 20 of either contest include Mark Bolt (16-WR/Stealth), Chris Zimmerman (16-QA/Laminar), Bubba Goodman (20-QA/Combat), and Glen Volk (20-WR/Litespeed). • Of brands placing well, Moyes was tops with 8 of the top 10 of both contests while Icaro took 6 places in the top — First Place in each is an especially coveted prize. Wills had 4 of the combined top 10 and Aeros had two. • Austrians, led by Manfred Ruhmer and Gerolf Heinrichs who formed a one-two punch for both meets, had 7 pilots of the top 10 in both meets, followed by the USA at 5, Brazil at 3, Czech at 2 (thanks to two good finishes by Tomas Suchanek), the UK at 2 and Canada at one. ••• DISCLAIMER: Gliders chosen by contestants do not match sales to all pilots in America or the world. Some pilots are provided with sponsored gliders and these aren’t your typical local pilots. Many gliders are modified from their normally manufactured condition. ••• Obviously from the above rankings, Wills Wing found a name for the wing formerly known as their "curved tip glider." Talon won the toss and placed two examples high in the finals. ••• Davis Straub chided me for "writing in the future" when I said (erroneously, it turned out) that the new comp glider would be available for pilots to demo at Wills Wing’s anniversary party at Wallaby Ranch last March. I admit to "leading" the event, but that announcement came straight from the WW-brand horse’s mouth (or e-mail client, in techspeak). ••• ATOS showed its new streamlined, curved and angled control frame at Wallaby. It’s very sleek and exotic looking; they’re pretty proud of it, too, at around $1,000 a copy. ••• At both meets, well over $20,000 in prizes were presented to winners, with Manfred taking home a big bundle of the loot. ••• Mark Poustinchian, webmaster for QuestAirForce.com site, set a new Florida state record by flying 225 miles into Georgia in his rigid wing. Congratulations, Mark! … interesting animation on the website, too, though it takes a long time to load at dial-up speeds. ••• Well, diver fans, watch your favorite magazine for more detailed articles and photos, but we’re outta room. ••• So, got news or opinions? Send ’em to: 8 Dorset, St. Paul MN 55118. Messages or fax to 651-450-0930, or e-mail to CumulusMan@aol.com. • All "Product Lines" columns will be available later this year at www.ByDanJohnson.com. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine