We have just completed a great week in Porterville for the 2021 Pre PWC. Despite international travel bans significantly reducing the number of attendees from abroad, we still had a decent turnout of 59 pilots, including some bold foreign pilots from BE, DE, SUI, CZE, UK, and OZ.
Our practice and registration day delivered a lovely flying day during which pilots on the hill decided to fly from Pampoenfontein launch, across the valley to Piketberg, and back to Flyer’s Lodge via a lovely cloud street.
Sunday 12 December 2021 was our first competition day, and our task committee met early to analyse the available met and set a task that considered the entire field of pilots. After consulting a multitude of weather models, the decision was made to send the field South, and then down to
Eendekuil. Unfortunately, a sneaky, stronger-than-expected south wind made it difficult for many to take the start but didn’t deter the twenty people who managed to arrive in goal. Roland de Vries from Cape Town came in first on his UP Guru, marking his first goal win in Porterville and Shaun Holiday from Plettenberg Bay took his first goal in the novice class.
The next morning our task com – consisting of Russell Achterberg, Ria Moothilal and Theunis de Bruyn, with Andy de Klerk as a safety officer and WJ de Vries our resident weatherman, met at 7am to consider the many meteorological models on offer (none of which seemed to be able to accurately align prediction with actual weather that transpired on the day). Our seasoned meet director Alan Livingstone oversaw operations on the launch, and local (non-pilot) Sybe Bakker (the main competition organizer) ensured everything ran smoothly back at base. It may be unusual to thank individuals in the middle of a comp report, but every individual who contributed to the success of this incident-free pre-PWC is worthy of an honourable mention – the current environment, both globally and locally comes with its own unique challenges and circumstances and the team involved in putting it together did an incredible job: Thank you. Congratulations… and thank you again!
But back to flying…we still have three tasks to cover…
Monday saw the field fly a 61 km race-to-goal, with a lot of clouds showing pilots the way out into the flats and over the ridge to Citrusdal, and eventually landing at Constriction. The start of the race was hard fought and fast, climbs were strong and clouds helpful! Nigel Frith from the Western Cape was first of 24 pilots into goal.
Tuesday brought with it a 79km race-to-goal, with start to the south, then zigzagging down the flats to land past Eendekuil. Conditions were good, with the usual Porterville holes en-route apparent and many pilots reporting low saves from 300m above the deck. Andre Rainsford from the Northwest reminded us all why he is known as the master of Porterville and arrived in goal a good six minutes ahead of Ruard de Bruin (WC). Third pilot in was visiting German pilot, Christian Sonnleitner. Twenty four pilots in goal seemed to be a charm, and there were many happy faces back at the meet centre.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday saw the weather gods play their worst hand and based on an easterly forecast we were bussed to Piketberg, with the hopes of flying. Unfortunately, we did not manage a task until Saturday.
The last day saw another mix of weather models (!) and the task committee set a task from Pampoenfontein launch. The forecast predicted a late start, with prevailing thermals, that would enable a task, expected around 13h00. A 63km triangle had been set, from Pampoenfontein down
South, up to Piketberg, back to Porterville with goal at Flyers Lodge.
Conditions included a sneaky southerly wind (un-force-cast on every single model?) that came in and ruined many a determined pilots’ efforts and dreams of making a final goal. About 75% of the field were on the ground before, or just after making the start. This included approximately five of the top ten pilots on the scoreboard.
Ultimately only four pilots managed to battle conditions to make goal – with Andre Rainsford leading the pilots in, followed by Christian Sonnleitner, Theunis de Bruin and Anton Naude. The conditions were tough, and these four pilots had to fight hard, flying for about three hours for a 63 km task.
Results and Prizegiving
The prize-giving ceremony was held at Flyers Lodge, with many new faces on the podium. Our winners included:
- Novice Class winner: Shaun Holiday.
- Intermediate Class was won by Christian Greyling.
- The hard-fought Sports class was taken by Brandon Orpwood from KZN.
- Performance Class was won by Dimitri Roman from BE.
- Ladies Class once again went Khobi-Jane Bowden from Wilderness.
- Our overall competition placings saw Andre Rainsford winning by a convincing 222 points, followed by second-placed Christian Sonnleitner (who has since returned to quarantine in Germany, but at least sporting an accomplished smile!), followed by Abe Meyer.
South African Paragliding Cup
This year SAHPA also re-introduced the South African Paragliding Cup. The SAPC is made up of South African pilots only and is a scored from a cumulation of all South African competition tasks flown for the year. The 2021 SAPC winners are as follows:
- David Scott
- Bradley Bretti
- Shaun Holiday
- Jeremy Holdcroft
- Cal Dyker
- Brandon Orpwood
- Henry Schurink
- Lawrence Chambers
- Heinrich Marloth
- Khobi-Jane Bowden
- Tracey King
- Flo Sexton
- Russell Achterburg
- Abraham Meyer
- Henry Schurink
Thank you to SAHPA for all the support and sponsorship.
The week yielded superb flying, and it was great to see so many up-and-coming pilots starting to make their mark on the competition scene. Here’s to keeping the momentum going in 2022!
Have a wonderful and restful December, and see you next year in Barberton!
SAHPA Competition Representative