It’s really hotting up in Avigliana, and not only because of the weather! Thanks to superb organisation of logistics, the Paragliding Accuracy competition completed two rounds on Friday, bringing it back on schedule for a final, sixth round on Saturday. And what a day! The results so far are showing some surprises in that neither the current World and European Champion, nor the world ranking points leader in the top 4.
Leading at the end of today is Goran Djurkovic from Serbia on 29cm, with newcomer Sheng Guangqiang from China just behind on 38cm. Both pilots have made three pad scores each, but Sheng gains the most benefit from the dropped score rule. A tricky fifth round flight, with the breeze on the lake shifting from zero to 10km and turning round 180° or more, truly tested the skills of the pilots today. Sheng was slightly caught out as the breeze sprang up suddenly, leaving him short. Stretching towards the target, his harness touched the raft first, giving him an automatic 10m penalty score. As this was the fifth round, all pilots can now drop their worst score.
In 3rd place is Kamil Konecny of Czech Republic who was leading after the 2nd round, but was also caught out by switchy conditions in the 3rd and 4th rounds, though he managed to stay on his feet each time. From Turkey, Hakan Cici is just ahead of world champion, Matjaz Feraric from Slovenia. Matjaz had a poor first round score, which he follozed with the first DC (dead centre) of the competition, but it is a slow recovery for him. Team mate, Dusan Gorenc in 6th place, scored the only other DC of the competition so far.
One of the unluckiest competitors is Yoshiki Oka from Japan. He was leading after the first round, and in 2nd place after the 2nd round. But then disaster struck. Heading out over the lake with good height, he hit major sink and landed only 5m short of the raft – the first pilot to land in the water. He took a reflight, and reached the raft, but fickle winds and a late turn put Yoshiki in the water again, an arm's length from the raft!
Over the five rounds, several pilots have encountered problems reaching the lake, and most have turned away to land in the bomb-out field, to keep their feet and kit dry to try again.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the final round, which will be in reverse order. Every score counts, and anything could happen. The final result will not be clear until the last pilot (the current leader) has flown. The ranking could change dramatically, and tension is high. But the atmosphere is good: the sun is shining, the lake welcoming after a hot day, the beer is cooling and the jazz is playing!