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older newer Tue, Apr 30 2002, 6:00:00 pm GMT

What happened in Florida

Aeros Combat|Alessandro "Alex" Ploner|Chris Arai|Christian Ciech|Curt Warren|David Glover|Florida|Gerolf Heinrichs|Glen Volk|Hansjoerg Truttmann|Jim Lee|Johann Posch|Kari Castle|Manfred Ruhmer|Mike Barber|Mitchell "Mitch" Shipley|Mitch Shipley|Oleg Bondarchuk|Paris Williams|Robert Reisinger|Robin Hamilton|Rohan Holtkamp|Rohan Taylor|Ron Gleason|Tascha "Tish the Flying Fish" McLellan|US Nationals|Wallaby Ranch|Wills Wing|World Record Encampment

As I reviewed the results of the meets in Florida, I noted quite a few stories within the bigger story.

Many of the world’s top hang glider pilots came to Floridato compete against each other, with twelve of the top twenty flex wing pilots and five of the top ten ranked rigid wing pilots in attendance. This made for a very tough field, and more than enough NTSS points to make for 600 point meets. The Floridameets are truly international events and should continue to be viewed as such.

Glen Volk did very well coming up to capture third in the Flytec Championship after twenty eighth at the Wallaby Open. Paris Williams, currently ranked third in the world – the highest ranking US pilot in years, was consistently very good coming in just behind Oleg in both meets. Oleg, of course, is kicking butt (even though Manfred’s was missing from the Flytec meet). It’s great to see such a sweet guy do so well.

Johann Posch was highly ranked before, but had never won a daily task. He finally did on the second to last day of the Flytec Championship. The big difference for him – ballast. He did much better in these meets than before and the difference was he finally became convinced of the need for ballast.

Robert Reisinger came into the Floridameets with a new relationship with Wills Wing, and a high ranking, that had slipped recently from 3rd to 14th in the world. He did very well on some days, but landed out on a number of other days. He finished below expectations at 23rd and 28th.

Curt Warren moved up dramatically from best new competitor designation last year at the Flytec Championship to finish 18th in the Wallaby Open and fifth in the Flytec Championship where he had a good chance for third. Just a little more patience in light conditions would help, but his go for it attitude also helps him win the day. He was with Johann and I when we were low on the second to last day of the Flytec meet.

Curt came in first on day one of the Flytec meet when he aced out Gerolf by a couple of feet. They were so close that Gerolf did run into him when Curt flaired to land. Gerolf was injried on that day.

Robin Hamilton did well on Manfred’s MR700 WRE coming in fourth at Flytec, but he could have moved up to second or perhaps first with a little more thermaling in weak lift.

Gary Wirdham moved up from 55th at Wallaby to 7th at Quest after he destroyed and then rebuilt his Aeros Combat. Maybe he should do that more often. He really appreciates his helmet (EN 966).

Kari Castle came back from a poor showing at 35th at Wallaby to move into 17th and first female pilot at Quest. She often seems to use the first competition to get herself warmed up.

Gerolf Heinrichs who is ranked as the number one pilot in the world (before the Floridameets) came in sixth at Wallaby, after a number of problems. These seemed to continue at Quest, where he was 44th. It was quite a tough two weeks for Gerolf and I hope he gets some time off to rest and recuperate.

Mike Barber did very well in Floridalast year, and maybe that lead to too high expectations on his part. He came in 7th at Wallaby a few places behind Paris, and the second American, with new American citizen and Floridaresident, Carlos “Cloud” Bessa, right behind him. Then he had some trouble early at Quest and slipped way down in the standings. Going all out on day 6 he hit the deck, and then doing it again on day 7 he won the day.

Speaking of Carlos Bessa (pronounce Base –a) he has been on a tear doing all he can to make the US National team, so that he can go back to Brazil next year to fly in the Worlds. He is now in the seventh position (1 shy of the team), so he has a very good chance. If the Wallaby Open had been fully valid, and everyone had been in their same places, he would have moved into the 6th place on the US NTSS ranking.

Jim Lee had to leave the Flytec Championship because of problems with his neck. This would move him down in the running for the 2003 NTSS ranking to 14th.

Mitch Shipley would do well after taking some time off from competition hang gliding. He would be the fifth American in the Flytec meet. Chris Arai did well enough after not flying for six months to come in 10th and 20th. He moved himself back toward being on the US national team.

Tish the Flying Fish was able to beat Kari at Wallaby and was second behind her at Quest. She seemed to have a great time fly and with her water pistols. Apparently she was aggressive in both fields. Francoise Mocellin was the top women competitors at Wallaby, while Kari was the US Nationals Women’s champion.

Dorval, a Brazilian pilot who learned to fly at Wallaby Ranch a few years ago, improved his performance substantially in spite of a recent operation. He certainly moved up in the ranking for the Brazilians.

Rohan Holtkamp who is currently ranked number 2 in the World didn’t do as well as he had hoped to, coming in 16th and 12th.

So, Johann Posch goes up to Dave Glover and says what a great job he did at the Flytec Championship. He says that Dave is just like Janet Reno. “Janet Reno?” Dave asks quizzically. Yes, just like Janet Reno (who is currently running for governor here in Florida), responds Johann. “Hmmm,” thinks David, “do you mean, Jay Leno?” “Of course,” responds Johann, “the late night talk show host.”

Ron Gleason moved himself way up on the NTSS ranking doing well in both competitions. He came to Floridato get some cross country training after selling his business and purchasing a mobile home. He’s on the circuit like Johann and myself.

Alex Ploner, the current rigid wing world champion and Christian Ciech were almost out of reach to the rest of us. Only Johann was able to pass Alex in the Flytec meet. They are good friends. Christian taught Alex how to be a competition hang glider pilot. They compete against (and with) each other often.

It looks like they will be the rigid wing pilots who are coming from Italy to the Worlds. While it will probably take at least three pilots to win the team competition, they might have a chance with two. They, along with Hansjoerg Truttmann from Switzerland, will be very tough to beat. I’m racking my brain for ways to do this.

Manfred apparently from what I hear had a really good time flying the Swift. Is more in store?

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