The single most important part of the paragliding race is the start. You have to make sure to take off at the right time and place yourself in the best position, but where is the best position? And then what?
You find yourself in a good position just outside of the start gate with five minutes to the start of the paragliding race. Your heart is pumping the pre-race adrenaline violently through your veins…
But wait….to fly fast does not necessarily mean to fly full speed ahead…without a very carefully planned game plan you will just find yourself racing full speed to the ground before you even get to the first turnpoint…..
The image above displays a typical start cylinder with an exit gate. The black arrow indicates the wind direction from the South West.
The white line shows the straight line distance to the centre of Turnpoint 1 on the top left with Turnpoint 2 on the bottom left. The green cross shows the perfect position to start taking in consideration the wind direction on the day.
First you need to understand the weather conditions and forecast of the day, then you need to carefully plan the route.
The easiest and the safest option after ensuring a good position in the start cylinder is to fly with the gaggle. There is nothing faster than a properly formed gaggle, especially when flying in the flats.
The red line indicates the fastest possible route but you will probably find that the gaggle will push more upwind to ensure an easy downwind leg to Turnpoint 2. The green lines indicate the direction that the gaggle will probably push into. If the gaggle is properly formed and they are climbing well they will probbaly push even harder into the flats as the yellow line indicates.
Do not ever push into the flats alone this early in the race, your strength will be in flying with the gaggle. Try to stay as high as possible and do not try to push too much speed this early in the race.
It is very important to maintain a good position through out the whole course of the race, you need to be in a good position to “make a move” and go for glory!
In the next article we will discuss flying with the gaggle.