2008 News Page

News from other years: 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

Richard Westgate Wins 2008 XC League
Richard Westgate, approaching Brighton 2008

Richard Westgate has won the 2008 XC League with a score of 606.7km. Richard rose to the top of the league with four 100km flights in less than a month in June/July The poor weather in August and September meant it was then difficult for other pilots to catch up. Kai Coleman came the closest with two triangle flights in September to come 2nd (507.6km) and Jim Mallinson was third with 491.8km.

The prize-giving will be at the Sport Leisure and Aviation Show at the NEC, at 3.00pm on Saturday 29th November.

2008 European Championships News
British Team '08

The 2008 European Paragliding Championships are being held in Ni? in Serbia from 30th June to 12 July 2008

Daily reports are avalable in the competitions section

The Bleriot Cup Team Announced

The Great Britain paragliding team that will compete for the Bleriot Cup has been announced:

  • Richard Bungay
  • Jim Mallinson (Vice Captain)
  • Steve Nash (Captain)
  • Tom Payne (Reserve)
  • Nigel Prior
  • Julian Robinson
  • Martin Sandwith
  • Chris 'Calvo' Burns (Team Manager)

The event combines paragliding and hang gliding teams from Great Britain who will compete against the combined French team. This years competition is based at Sedburgh in the Yorkshire Dales and will start on Monday 14th July.

Daily reports will be avalable in the competitions section

Four scoring tasks in round 1 of the British Championships in Pedro Bernardo
Craig Morgan Pedro Bernardo Winner

The top three places in the British Open In Pedro Bernardo all went to Brits. Craig Morgan won the competition with Mark Hayman and Mark Watts in second and third places. Kirsty Cameron took the prize for 1st Woman.

For all the results and task information see the Pedro Bernardo competition report

British Europeans Team 2008

The British paragliding team for the 2008 Europeans in Serbia, starting on June 30th, will be:

  • Russell Ogden
  • Jamie Messenger
  • Craig Morgan
  • Mark Watts
  • Mark Hayman
  • Fiona Macaskill
  • Steve Etherington (reserve)

St Andre is joint British / Dutch Open again
Dutch pilots St Andre 2007

We are pleased to say that, as last year, the St Andre Open will be a combined British and Dutch Open. All competitors will compete individually for the open title; but each nation will have a separate championship ranking for their national championship.

British team selection for European Championships 2008

The method of selection of the British Team for the European Championships 2008 was discussed at a meeting of the Competitions Panel held in Piedrahita during the Championships in 2007.

A consensus was reached that the current WPRS (World Pilot Ranking System) is now a better selection criteria than using the results from the British Championships and will be used going forward. However, it would be unfair to use this selection criteria for the 2008 European Championships as pilots had not been aware of the this and had therefore not had the oportunity to maximise their WPRS scores, so the old criteria will be used.

The old selection criteria is:-

  1. WPRS ranking, we use this because the team size at FAI Cat 1 events (europeans and worlds) depends on the nations ranking. By biasing team selection towards WPRS ranking we aim to get a higher place for the Nation, and therefore a larger team in the Worlds. Effectively pilots are rewarded for gaining places for the team. We automatically allocate team places to the 3 highest ranked UK pilots in the WPRS if they are in the top 50 of the WPRS. Lower places in WPRS are used as the first step in the selection process.
  2. British Open Championships results: The totalled points from the 3 open competitions run throughout the year. We automatically allocate a place to the Male and Female national champions(assuming we have the required 4 scoring tasks over the year to validate the championship).
  3. British Pilot Ranking Sysytem (BPRS): The WPRS ranking, Open Championships ranking, and UK XC league ranking are all combined in an effort to rank all British pilots and provide a framework in which pilots can chart their progress and be personally motivated to climb the ranking.

The selection procedure then requires a Competitions Panel meeting about three months before a team event (usually FAI Category 1). All pilots wishing to be considered are asked to submit their case in writing. Panel members, who are also candidates for team places, are not allowed to take part (unless they are automatically selected through 1 or 2 above).

The rest of the team is selected based on the following factors:

  1. WPRS Ranking
  2. British Open Championship place
  3. BPRS ranking
  4. Recent head to head results in same air
  5. Performance in similar terrain and conditions
  6. Squad performance. Has the candidate demonstrated strong personnel performance and strong team performance?
  7. These characteristics are clearly important in order to ensure a strong, motivated team performance in Euros or Worlds.

As the BPRS no longer exists in it's own right but tracks the WPRS, this element will no longer be considered, but will have already been covered by the WPRS rankings. The WPRS ranking that will be used will be the 1st March ranking as this is the one available 3 months prior to the event.

It should also be noted that selection for the team is no guarantee of financial assistance to attend the event.

Explanation of the increased entry fees
in 2008

Survey close up

We have reluctantly increased the entry fees this year; by £5 for each of the European rounds and £10 for the British leg. The two most important factors behind these increases have been the provision of retrieves for the British round at the Long Mynd and the fall in the pound against the euro.

In last year's survey, a large proportion of pilots rated retrieves as 'very important' and due to the excellent conditions during the UK leg last year, many pilots spent a good deal of money on public transport. So this year we have decided to provide retrieves. The retrieve tansport will actually cost between £20 to £30 per pilot, but we have reduced the increase by controlling prices elsewhere.

In practice, the £10 increase could easily be justified by the saving of a single train journey.

Over 50% of the total competition expenses will be spent in euros in France and Spain, so the exchange rate is very important. However, only pilots living in the UK will be affected by the increase, at the current exchange rate the entry fees are actually less than last year for those living in the euro area!

As in previous years there are big savings to be made by registering and paying early, if you pay for all three competitions before 20th April you will save ?90 over the full, individual price for each round.

Background to choice of venues for the 2008 British Paragliding Championships

As many of the pilots who competed last year will know, a number of key members of the team that previously organised and ran the British Paragliding Championships have retired (after 10 years service in some cases!). In addition to this, the Comps Panel has tried to consider the wishes of the pilots (from the pilot survey) that indicated the desire for three rounds; one in the UK and two in Europe. Then trying to squeeze the Brit dates in between the PWCs, Europeans, XC Opens etc. has been quite a difficult process. After hundreds of Comp Panel e-mails and several conference calls, the following decisions were reached:

Chavlet Take Off St Andre

To try something new by going to Pedro Bernardo in Spain (about 40kms South East of Piedrahita, on the Southern side of the Gredos mountains). We are going there in late May / early June based on local advice of when it's good for the area.

To go to the Long Mynd in late June, arguably the best site in the UK for competition flying; this year with the added attraction of organised retrieves. This will take place back-to-back with the inaugural Triple XXX free flight festival and the British Paragliding Cup.

Finally, to go to a tried and tested European destination that would be relatively 'easy' to organise. The decision to go to St Andre in the Maritime Alps was the result of a democratic vote by the Comps Panel, based on its undeniable pedigree as one of Europe's premier competition venues.

Since the dates were announced, there have been a couple of e-mails to the Comps Panel and some discussion about the decision to go there during the third week of August. It seems there is a perception that it might be too feisty, especially since the British Hang Gliding Champs gave such an 'interesting' write up recently in Skywings following their visit in late August 2007. The information gathered from the local paragliding school Aerogliss, ex-pats who live close by (Bruce Goldsmith & Russ Ogden - current UK PG Champion) and seasoned pilots who have flown comps there at the same time of year is that this should be better than when we were there last September (and that was pretty good!). To quote Russ Ogden; "St Andre is normally very good in August, in fact it can be EPIC. There is no good reason for pilots to be scared or intimidated, it comes down to sensible task setting and a switched on safety committee who are not scared to cancel tasks on the grounds of pilot safety."

Having completed over 20 weeks of top-level competitions at StAndre, current World Champion Bruce Goldsmith has this to say about it: "StAndre is probably the best place in the world for paragliding competitions. Most places have one main ridge, and you run up and down that. St Andre has epic flying in every direction from take-off." Another advantage of StAndre is that it is well-protected from the prevailing wind, so when there is a howling northerly Mistral in Laragne it is often calm or even Southerly in StAndre. Of course, when conditions are like that the task committee has to set tasks in the most protected areas around the valley in front of take-off - which is what happened every day last year. Last year, with Mistral in the Rhone valley, and Laragne blown-out, the task setting committee was forced to only use the safe local area, West of take-off, and we missed out on the more epic conditions to be had once you venture into the beautiful mountains to the North, South or East of StAndre. The main reason for setting the dates earlier is in the hope of flying StAndre in good conditions, which should be a bit less inverted - so the thermals should be a bit better formed, less bumpy and softer edged. With decent weather we ought to also get a bit higher base - giving us the chance to spend more time at altitude, enjoying the view.

So hopefully the Comps Panel have chosen the best venues with the resources and local organisation available and look forward to seeing you all in yet another fantastic series of competition tasks.

Confirmed Dates for British Paragliding Championships 2008
Pedro Bernardo, a new site, selected for 2008

Pedro Bernardo

After much deliberation, the locations and dates for the 2008 British Paragliding Championships have been set by the Comps Panel.

These dates and venues have now been confirmed.

All the events will be run as FAI Category 2 competitions; this will qualify pilots for World Ranking points. For Pedro Bernardo both the first Saturday and the Sunday will be run as practice days / training days to allow PWC pilots time to travel from the Swiss PWC. The locations and dates are as follows:

  • Pedro Bernardo, Spain (Sistema Central, South face of Gredos) June 1 - June 7 (registration May 31)
  • Long Mynd, UK June 25 - June 28 (registration June 24)
  • St Andre, France Aug 17 - Aug 23 (registration Aug 16)

The panel have addressed the requests from pilots who wanted a new location (Pedro Bernardo); along with two tried and tested locations.