CIVL President takes to the ice

Because I think that there should be better and more frequent communication between the CIVL bureau and the pilots and because I wanted to get acquainted with one of the CIVL’s smaller, but fast growing disciplines, I travelled to Trakai in Lithuania in February, where the 4th FAI World Paragliding Accuracy Championship was held. Overall organiser and meet director of this competition was Violeta Grigoraitiene. Violeta told me that organising a World Championship in Lithuania was one of her dreams. After she had convinced the Lithuanian aero club, she started on the long road towards organising the competition. Violeta organised a very successful test competition and she and her organisation staff were ready for the real comp. What has contributed to the success of this championship, and what is a problem in many of the major competitions, is the large group of volunteers that were involved in the organisation. The group of volunteers was almost as big as the number of competitors. One of the reasons why many volunteers were needed is the winch towing. The competitors were towed up (on a frozen lake) with 2 tow winches and especially towing with winches needs many people assisting. A very good working system to get the cable back to the starting place was used and that made it possible that every 90 seconds a competitor was towed up. This made it possible that an average of 2 and sometimes 3 rounds per day could be run. 69 pilots from 14 countries were competing for the title of World Champion Paragliding Accuracy. What made this championship special is that it was also the first Women’s World Championship. 11 ladies from 7 countries competed for the women’s title. This competition was very attractive for the media and spectators, because it was held on a frozen lake and the starts, flights and landings were very good to follow for the interested spectators. This is a very media friendly air sport and I am happy that we will have this discipline in a possible next edition of the World Air Games. Because the competitors have to land as close as possible to a target a team of judges is needed to check the correct landings and the distances of the competitors to the target. This was a group of international very well trained judges, lead by the very experienced chief judge, Andy Cowley. It is good to see that the money that is invested by the CIVL in training international accuracy judges is well spent. The very good working team of judges and the technology made it possible that the scores were constantly updated on the website of this competition and were all the time up to date. On the day before the last day of the competition, it was Lithuanian “Independence day”, and a program of air shows was organised. Next to some very low flying powered paragliders, lots of noise from fast moving powered sledges and quad-like snow scooters, one of the Czech team members, Tomas Lednik, who is also a parachutist and base jumper, demonstrated some amazing parachuting stunts, one with a wing suit. On the last competition day, the only competition day that I was present, only the final round was flown. This took them to the maximum number of rounds in one competition – 12, and the prize giving had to be prepared. This last round did not have a huge influence on the overall winner, but determined some of the other places. On the day that I arrived the stewards, Louise Joselyn and Riikka Vilkuna, had organised a meeting with the competitors to discuss some rules issues, propose modifications in the sporting code and discuss a record system for accuracy. It is good to see that the stewards involve the people that have the knowledge, the pilots, in the rule making process. It seems a good idea to follow this example in more disciplines in the CIVL. The prize giving ceremony was organised in the castle of Trakai and was how a prize giving ceremony should be. Not too long speeches, happy competitors and good food and drinks. It was a pleasure to visit this very well organised championship and I am sure that the accuracy community will see me more frequently. Violeta, thank you for the invitation and the great organisation. Flip Koetsier