One of the biggest perks of paragliding is being able to coast along in harmony with nature. But there are days when flying fast just isnt fast enough when you yearn to reach stratospheric heights and cross stretches you’ve never seen before. When it comes to appeasing your inner speed demon, there are a few tricks you can try to help shave off time sinks and make the most of the wind conditions.
Follow these 5 tips to achieve faster flying
1. Ride the Thermal
Knowing how to centre a thermal can mean the difference between getting home and landing out. Not only do thermals offer a chance to gain some easy altitude they can also send you flying at speeds on par with some of the local birds. To make the most of a thermal, wait until you feel the strongest lift and then dig your wing into it with a tight turn. The faster you find the core of the thermal, the faster you will climb and the faster you will fly.
2. Get Fast Slowly
It may sound like an oxymoron, but one of the best ways to reach top speed is to engage your speed bar gradually. While newbies might be tempted to stamp on the bar right away, this approach can pitch the glider forward with too steep an angle of attack, making the wing vulnerable to deflations. Instead, ease on the speed by monitoring your pitch and waiting until your body’s speed matches the wing speed before amping it up.
3. Try Ridge Soaring
Planning your route over ridges can help supply a steady stream of updrafts. In good wind conditions, slopes can provide a fairly consistent lift as long as you fly steady over the edges. This technique is often used in competition tasks to run down long ridges. Basically put, only climb to the top of the thermal if you intend to leave the ridge, ie go over the back or into the flats.
4. Soften Your Steering
Put simply: sharp steering feeds your sink rate. Try manoeuvring your wing more smoothly to avoid tight turns and abrupt shifts which can also oscillate your banking angle. Only bank the glider in strong lift.
5. Attack Headwinds
Getting caught in a headwind can drop your speed rate to a crawl. Say you’re going along at a trim speed of 30 km/h and get hit straight on with a 25 km/h headwind. If you stay at trim, you’ll most likely start hovering downward as the wing loses speed yet if you try to fly any slower, you’ll actually start moving backwards. The best option is to hit the speed bar whenever going into the wind to ensure maximum forward speed movement.