Competition: Pre-World Cup, Governador Valadares

My perspective on the race in Valadares, how I did and what I know I need to improve on


I flew in my first competition of the season last week in Governador Valadares and what a crazy week it was. l definitely learnt a lot in terms of racing technique to take into my next competition but took away some valuable knowledge of what competitions mean to me and where they fit into the world of paragliding.

The week started off not too bad and on Day 1 I placed 28th (out of 125). I knew this wasn’t my best performance and I had to remind myself that racing is not like flying XC.

On Day 2 I did better, I placed 16th overall and was in the top 10 landing in goal that day. Unfortunately I hadn’t been leading much in the beginning of the race so lost out on lead points for a higher placing but overall I was happy with my performance.

Pre-world cup, paragliding competition in Governador Valadares, Brazil
Pre-World Cup in Governador Valadares, Brazil

Day 3 gave us some funky weather. After touching the first way-point the gaggle was heading towards a dark cloud and I knew that flying that way would be completely shutdown. As the gaggle glided to a sink hole and their landing, I decided to take a risk and glide towards a patch of sun off course from the next way-point in the hope of catching a thermal and then be able to ride a different line to make the next point. Unfortantely, this risk didn’t pay off and I also glided to my landing. Had I stuck with the gaggle I would have got the same distance points as everyone else. As my glide veered off in a slight different direction, I came up short on distance points and lost out on lead points too. Taking 92nd place that day was a reminder that what would be a smarter decision in XC flying was not the case for racing and to be good at racing I have to remember to be a sheep and follow the leader.

Pre-World Cup in Governador Valadares, Brazil

The task on Day 4 was cancelled due to bad weather but we started back up on Day 5 and a days rest did me good and I placed 11th.

Day 6 was a good day and I managed to stay in the lead gaggle most of the way but lost out on points when I landed 100 meters shy of goal. This was me pushing too hard for lead points into ESS and not giving myself enough height to make goal. This small mistake cost me a lot and pushed me down to 80th position for the day.

With 2 days of results that were no so favourable and nothing left to lose, I decided to fly a different style on Day 7. I focused on flying the course as an XC day and doing my own thing. This turned out to be a good strategy at first as I was leading the way for a lot of the task and scored the highest lead points of the day. However, on the final glide into ESS I found myself low and having to thermal to make goal. As I did this, I watched the lead gaggle pass me and I lost out on time points to the winners that day. My final day result was 53rd position which was not what I had been aiming for.

Paragliding in Governador Valadares, Brazil
Paragliding in Governador Valadares, Brazil

The final results came in and I placed in the top 50 at 42nd place. My performance throughout the race was not consistent enough to beat the locals. I have to remind myself that racing is not XC and a smart decision for a long distance flight doesn’t make points in a race.

As I now travel to Italy for the Monte Grappa Trophey I will be trying to follow the leaders more which is not my style of flying at all. I have to hold back myself from flying smart like I would when going XC and fly with the gaggle, even when at times they make a decision which isn’t something I would normally do. This element of following is what I struggle with most. Nearly all of my training in XC has been completely alone and about making decisions that will take me further, even if it means thermalling for longer to get higher, racing completely goes against that idea.

I’m looking forward to taking what I have learnt to the next race in Italy and hopefully I can resist the urge to fly as I would like to and follow along with all the other pilots.

Also a big congrats to my comp buddy William Pardis for placing 13th overall and getting his letters for the PWC to represent the Phillipines.