2014 Paragliding World Cup Superfinal – gone wrong
It is the 7th day of the most prestigious cross country competition of the year, the PWC Superfinal in Pamukkale, Turkey and I believe I'm writing this in the name of all participants. Some already call the event the “Semih-Final”... after the meet director Semih Sayir. Because instead of nice flying and happy landings the event is overshadowed by terrible weather conditions but most importantly by poor organization and terrible communication towards the pilots. We had 2 valid tasks but in extremely difficult conditions from which today very few pilots made goal (immense respect for them!). And even though we at least flew the last 2 days the moral of the pilots is lower then ever. Frustration and lot's of anger vibrating in the air, so that some top pilots were even considering going home.
It all began with windy days and lot's of parawaiting on launch, but we are all pilots and know exactly how this works with the weather so no big deal. However, at 2 occasions a task was set and even a start time was announced while many pilots already packed up due to the conditions that were obviously, potentially dangerous (very strong wind with spectacular rotor clouds just a 2-300m over take-off ). When one of the biggest favorites of the contest, Félix Rodriguez expressed his concerns about the safety of the pilots the main organizer and meet director Semih Sayir reacted angry and arrogant (as Félix explained afterwards). The day was topped with an attempted rape of a pilot's girlfriend by their hotel's receptionist while we were all up on launch. She was lucky to get away by defending herself...Welcome to Turkey. (correction: a bad one for her in the country).
Then 2 rainy days came and we all tried to stay patience, but of course frustration was growing not being able to fly at all. The clouds cleared but strong wind stayed and the forecast looked better for another flying site, Cameli, some 2-3 hours away. A very early departure by buses was set to Cameli to run a task there. Unfortunately once more, the wind was way too strong and no sun to make a task so instead of going up to launch the pilots and meet director S.S. agreed together to keep driving even further south to the flying riviera, Ölüdeniz (as it was discussed the day before as an alternative program exactly for this scenario). So after about 4.5-5 hours driving 110 airtime hungry world cup pilots arrived to the sunny beach of Ölüdeniz with already dozens and dozens of paragliders in the sky, some thermalling under puffy cumulus at 2500 meters...Of course they were all keen to go up to Babadag and fly but then they had to learn that the transport trucks with all their gliders were TURNED BACK to Pamukkale! Can you imagine? This released the avalanche and everybody was pissed as fuck and it nearly ended in the physical punishment of S.S.! The truth is that legally the transport trucks (shity old ones) are not allowed to cross from one province to the other (Denizli to Mugla) because their insurance won't be valid outside the province it is registered in. But since it was already a plan B for the day why not to organize other trucks that can cross? But most importantly why NOT TO COMMUNICATE all this with the pilots? Nobody was told, nobody was asked! The very few lucky ones who had their gear in the vehicles they came with did an nice flight but all the others had nothing else to do then get drunk in the beach bars not even being able to jump into the see as they didn't have their clothing, etc. (all of it was in the glider bags that went back to the headquarters). On top of all, thanks to the microclimate it was by far the best flying day of all right there and then in Ölüdeniz and we could have easily run a beautiful quick task around the Babadag!
The following morning the same plan – Cameli- was set. Before the departure the province/insurance issue was explained during a short briefing but S.S. did not apologies whatsoever for upsetting everybody big time! Anyway, about 3 hours later we got up to the Cameli launch, still windy but apart from the spectacular inversion looking ok, so a task was set. The best pilot Andreas Malecki stunningly was able to fly 31 km (half of the task) but otherwise many big names landed short. Conditions were stable, bubbly, turbulent with lot's of drift and many close calls on the take-off and in the crowded gaggles (god, thanks that nobody got hurt during the launches). Together with many fellow pilots I flew 13 km but the work felt us all equivalent of a 100km alpine triangle or so...
Today – thanks god- we stayed in Pamukkale and tried our luck from the lower take-off (because again, stronger wings from the back was awaited for the higher launch). The task was not really set correctly that made it not only extremely difficult but also pretty dangerous to achieve 2 of the turn-points. Again, very strong inversion produced crazy shity thermals and most of us couldn't really make it over 1000 meter ASL!! My average climb for the day was 0.4 m/s! A few lucky ones were able to jump on the high plateau and cross the inversion to climb almost 1000 meter over everybody. Some of them made goal which is stunning, utmost respect but there was also some deserved luck involved. Again, one of them was Pepe Malecki so I am pretty sure he is leading the comp with a strong margin.
Publicly complaining and telling bad about people is not my thing and I hate to say but my first PWC Superfinal just totally suxx. I am doing this in the hope that this shall not happen again in the future and wanted to let you guys know what is actually going on here and in the hope that things may improve for the last 4 days. In my opinion stuff like this simply cannot happen at this level of any sport The spirit among the pilots is extremely low which is of course totally understandable but quite a pity – and by far I didn't even mention everything here... One is clear for me: I am definitely not going to another event with the same meet director. Sorry 'abi'!. But I absolutely have to defend the PWC ORGANISATION CREW here. They are making their part of the job FLAWLESSLY!
Tonight there is some drinking scheduled as we are celebrating the birthday of Félix, so I am off now, cheers!