My name is Jimmy Giroux and I am from Quebec, Canada and I am the only representative of my country who joined the Paragliding Accuracy World Cup tour in 2016. I am taking this opportunity to share my path and experience that 2016 gave me.
I fell into PGAWC after my Paragliding course that I did in the Philippines in 2015. I was offered to join the competition and even if I was a new pilot I was very welcomed by all the pilots who were way more experimented than me and made me feel like one of them and at the ready to give me advise on my technique, which I really really needed. Needless to say that I finished last.
Back in Canada and found a bunch of new friends in the Club de Vol Libre de Thetford Mines (CVLTM), which is now my local club where I am le liaison officer. As a new pilot, I got taken under the wing of “the old guys” as I was the youngest pilot at 41 years old at the time. I attended a few club weekend gatherings where you got pilots from around the province who get together for a great weekend of flying and socializing. At one of them, the Festiciel of St Fulgence, I ended up in the trees 4 times due to really small landing surrounded by forest. I got really annoyed at myself, even if I had about 100h ground handling and could take off anywhere, I had problems spot landing which is really needed in my country. I decided that I was going to learn precision landing, and decided to join the PGAWC so that I would really push myself to learn…
So, in May 2016 I signed up for the PGAWC in Berane, Montenegro where over 100 pilots fight for the first place in accuracy landing. This is where I had my first landing on the 5 meter target with a score of 1meter 10 which gave me a score of 110. The aim is to have as low score as possible, with 1 point given per centimeter away from the Bullseye to a maximum of 500 if you land outside of the Target area. The other thing you need to keep in consideration is, if any part of your equipment touch the ground before your glider does so, i.e. the rear end of your harness, then you also get maximum point of 500. The organiser really aim for safe landing and accuracy in doing so, the aim is to attract more people to the sport, not to scare them away of the sport!
The following week I travelled to Vlora, Albania for the 2nd leg of the World Cup. They really went all at it as it was their practice run for the 9th FAI World Championship, which they will be hosting from the 5th to the 14th of May 2017. Beach party, cheerleaders, television crew on prime time TV slot and mega firework, only to mention part of the great experience the Albania Open bunch did to really make the pilots feel like kings of the world, la crème de la crème like the French like to say, it was a Wonderful experience and I can’t wait for the world Championship.
Back to Canada for another operation on my Leg due to a past accident, I miss out on 2 months of good training and getting more confident in myself and my wing, as I still consider myself a beginner; unfortunately I got out of crutches and I needed to get ready to go and compete in Indonesia.
My mind wasn’t into the competition in Indonesia due to the extreme heat and lack of air conditioning in my room, that’s when I learnt to select my accommodation instead of letting other do so. I had a fear of power line since my good friend lost an arm landing in them back home and needed to fight that fear which only came at the end of the competition. It was really same but when you have a mental blockage you need to deal with it… so again, I did not do so well, but had a great time and met a lot of new friends.
The following weekend it was time for PGAWC Taiwan, a great venue and organisation with all the bell and whistle, very well organized but a little too regimented to me. The flying site was perfect and the landing, challenging due to inland thermal, which could have given me some advantage which I didn’t really take, I was still in a bad mindset from Indonesia. Lots of new friends and better time with old ones and more learning about accuracy technics. Like I said, I need to work on my athlete mindset, but had an unbelievable time.
Unfortunately I did not get enough or should I say, I got too many points to qualify for the PGAWC Super Final in China where the top 10 Pilots for Asia, the top 10 of Europe plus the top 10 Pilots from China and top 6 women in the world battle for the title of the World Champion of 2016.
Our world champion this year is, on the men side, Goran Dourkovic from Vrsac, Serbia, where the 2nd round of PGAWC 2017 will be stopping this year. On the women side, Nunnapat Phuchong from Chaiyaphum, Thailand, was crowned world female World Cup Champion for 2016. I feel very privileged to be friend with both of them.
Now it’s the 2017 season and I went for a practice competition in Thailand with Nunnapat or Bebie, as we call her, and I am getting much better but I still need some work. PGAWC this year will be held in Manado, Indonesia from the 16th to the 20th of March for the 1st round, then the 2nd round will be from the 7th to the 9th of April in Vrsac, Serbia.
For the first time in the history of PGAWC, I am very proud to be part of the team bringing it to North America, most precisely in Mont St Pierre, Quebec, Canada where I will be competing in front of all my friends and family for the 3rd round from the 21st to the 23rd of July. Kobarid in Slovenia will be hosting the 4th and final round of the PGAWC this year, from the 22nd to the 24th of September.
I invite all of you to come and join all or some of the PGAWC competition and help promote our beautiful sport that is paragliding. You will have a great time, lots of fun, discover new flying spots in picturesque environment and make new friends forever and meet old ones… Hope to see you there!!!
*[This article was written in March 2017, before the Paragliding Accuracy World Championships of Albania 2017]
*Paragliding Accuracy World Championship 2017 results: https://paragliding.al/pga-worlds-is-over-meet-the-champions/
*About Paragliding Accuracy: http://www.fai.org/civl-our-sport/paragliding-accuracy