ST. PAUL, MINN., — The 1999 World Championships are over, and ho-hum, Manfred Ruhmer won… again. I don’t mean to sound jaded by Manfred’s winning performance but it sure seems predictable. He is indeed the undisputed champion, although he did have to prove his ability; it was not a runaway victory. In hot pursuit were some of the same Brazilian experts that did well at Wallaby and the Quest U.S. Nats earlier this year. Of course, Ruhmer flew the Laminar ST (topless) that has been his choice for many contests. • Andre Wolf was 2nd in his Laminar ST followed by Pedro Matos on a Laminar ST, and in 5th, Gordon Riggs on another Laminar. Betino Schmidt managed to squeeze in a La Mouette Topless in 4th to keep the Icaro model from totally dominating flexwings at the ’99 Worlds. Richard Walbec and his Wills Wing Fusion represented the highest American brand in 6th place. • The U.S. Team was 9th overall, reports team member Jim Zeiset. Jim Lee finished 14th and Chris Arai was 24th as the top-placing Americans in Class I. ••• In the rigid class, Christof Kratzner took first on an ATOS, which overall dominated Class II as did the Laminar STs in Class I. Kratzner is provisionally the winner awaiting an appeal on photos from runner-up Johnny Carr, who came in 2nd in his European-built Swift. The two top guns were followed by Hansjoerg Trutman in 3rd on another ATOS, Dave Sharp in 4th on yet another, followed by Brian Porter in his modified-Millennium, the Utopia. The ATOS from Felix Ruhle’s new A.I.R. company took 7 of the top 10 places, a convincing follow up to early-season ATOS successes. Quite a few ATOS gliders were entered and factory support was available on site to aid their pilots which surely helped both physically and psychologically. • Team USA Rigid was 3rd overall, but of the first three team scores, it was observed that the Yankees were separated from the Swiss and German rigid teams by only 139 points — out of 10,000! Some 25 rigid pilots represented eight countries, a healthy turnout of Class II contestants. ••• The meet was regarded as one that, according to Zeiset, "started fairly slow but became quite grueling by the end." It enjoyed good safety but had a share of exciting moments. One was a parachute deployment as the meet ended. It seems that Guido Gehrmann was doing aerobatics in front of the main site of Monte Cucco. David Straub writes, "On his third loop his glider broke. The wires were attached up the down tubes a ways and he blew the down tubes out. He threw his ‘chute, then shot his other rocket-deployed ‘chute." He was OK. World Meet digital photographer and 1-800-Hang-Glide man, David Glover, thought the wires "were attached perhaps two-thirds of the way up the down tubes, in what I have to believe is a pretty modest — but risky — way to reduce drag. Some felt that Gehrmann learned a little about hang gliding structures that day. ••• From the Worlds came not one but two daily e-mail updates, one from Davis Straub, the OZ Report man, the other from Jim Zeiset. Between the two, wired pilots could keep up with the meet in an informative yet personable fashion. Competitions continue to garner good attention, despite the fact that less than 1% of USHGA members are involved with contest flying. While meet pilots probably attach undue significance to the events, it remains true that this kind of flying shows the recreational pilot majority what new designs are working well. • I’m hoping a full report follows this summary; certainly we have a good record of events thanks to the two e-mailers. ••• Back here at home, Mountain Wings operator Greg Black wrote an encouraging note saying, "I think hang gliding is back!" He goes on to say, "I have noticed that since I have been on the training hill myself, gliders are being sold and 90% of the intro students are signing up for the big training package… is it that we are attracting people with a lot of money? I sure am excited about whatever is happening. And it’s fun, too." He notes that his business has "lots of gifted students, lots of gliders sales, lots of excitement from the students which [helps] them bring in friends for lessons. It’s been… great!" This may be a local phenomenon by I’m pleased to hear it. Do other parts of the country feel this way? (Greg was reporting the late spring/early summer period.) ••• Videographer Paul Hamilton continues his prolific ways with a new production that schools, clubs, and growth-oriented USHGA members may want. "Starting Hang Gliding" is not a training video, although it has lots of basic information. I saw it instead as a promotional vehicle. It roves around the country to reveal scenes at several of the bigger flight schools. Paul and his wife have added interesting production values with some very nice animated graphics that show not only Paul’s ability with the video camera but also his computer. The 30-minute video was very watchable, I felt, and has good flying scenes that cut quickly one to another maintaining a good pace and never boring the viewer. Get more info at his web site: adventurep.com or call 775-747-0175. ••• The San Diego community hosted a party for Leroy Grannis and his wife Katie. She turned 80 and they’re celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Leroy — who shot some of the finest pictures ever in our sport — is also regarded as a legendary surfing photographer. "They are both doing well," says Brad Hall. "They’re still surfing almost every day!" Leroy is 82. Both are planning to make a showing at this year’s Telluride, Brad added. Congratulations Leroy and Katie! The active couple remains a fine example for "young" hang glider pilots. ••• In closing, I need to make a clarification. Ken Brown wrote to say that although he is indeed a rep’ for Flight Design’s Ghostbuster, this is only for the Southwest U.S. "I am still representing [French glider builder] Tecma in the USA. My support for the company and product is still high." His primary responsibilities are associated with the promotion and distribution of the Moyes product line. He adds, "I am stocking Dragonfly [tug] kits for immediate delivery as well as spares support." More info: FlyaMoyes@aol.com. ••• 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. THANKS!
Published in Hang Gliding Magazine