Wooo!!! I am excited to report that I was able to come in 1st OVERALL for the Point Rat Paragliding Competition! Could this be the first time that a woman has won a paragliding competition in the US? Or anywhere? I really don't know.
I now live just 3 miles from the Point of the Mountain, famous for it's morning and evening consistent paragliding winds, and a popular spot to both learn the sport and get better at it. For the second year, this was home to the Point Rat Paragliding Competition, a series of tasks held from May to September. Each month, the task changes, but always starts and ends at the North Side, which is the evening site for paragliders as the winds blow down from the great salt lake.
Each tasks consist of 12 turn points, ranging in total distance from 13-24 kilometers, which could take anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour and a half to complete. The tasks get harder and longer as the months go on, until very few people are able to even complete the task in September. Details are here if you interested in competing: Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association
The North Side wasn't very consistent this summer, sometimes only offering a couple of nights per month of flyable weather. That doesn't leave much time to finish 5 tasks (and do them fast, too!) The trick on North Side is that the winds have to be strong enough to bench up from the lower launch, but not too strong that it's impossible to reach some of the distance turn points. The point is flyable only an hour or two before sunset, so the trick is to get launched as early as possible, but not too early that it's too strong. Although we were gone for a few months this summer, when we were in Utah I tried to get up to fly every night it seemed to be good. Even at that, I sunk out trying to finished the tasks at least 5 times, having to hike back to my car or to the house from a few interesting places!
The race was close all the way through the series, with Brad Fairchild leading the overall by a fair margin. When I got back from traveling in August, I knew I had to finish 4 tasks in just 2 months, which was not going to be easy. I had some setbacks too....on a great night, I flew a task really quickly, only to realize that I had entered a turn point incorrectly, giving me nothing for the night!?! Another night, I made it to the final turn point on a hillside, only to sink behind it and top land, again unable to finish the task.
With 2 days left in September, I still hadn't finished the final task, the weather wasn't looking good, and the days were getting really short. It came down to the final night, I got a good launch cycle, and the lift was just high enough I could fly the course without sinking out. I pushed my glider around on full speed bar, and was able to not only finish the September task, but win it by about 20 minutes...enough to put me in first place overall. I was very excited!
You'll see in the results that the lowest score out of the 5 months was dropped, which is why I don't have a number in T1. Below the overall results I have broken down how the task is run by going through the August competition. I loved this competition, and many thanks to the organizers for putting it together for a second year. It makes flying on the North Side a real challenge!
Below is an example of a monthly task (August). On the night I finished this task, Jim and I flew it together. He led me out and managed to finish ahead of me by a few minutes to win the month!
Map of all the possible turn points and showing the North Side ridge (launch is at WINDSO)
Task #4 – AUGUST
(The numbers are the size of the circle we have to fly through in meters)
TP1 - FRONT 200
TP2 - FLAG 400
TP3 - INT 200
TP4 - SLIDE 400
TP5 - RVS 200
TP6 - SUNKN 400
TP7 - BONDOK 200
TP8 - PARTY 400
TP9 - HRTPON 400
TP10 - KNOB 400
TP 11 - OSBOME 200
TP12 - WINDSO 200
August Turnpoints Map
|Here's the track of my August task, showing both the straight lines between turn points, and the track I actually flew (the crooked one!).|
August Task Results