The 2012 Canada Paraglide Nationals are over. It was a fantastic competition that proved our new upper launch in MacKenzie Basin is capable of supporting a World Cup race.
Up above visiting pilots from all over the world were blown away by the powerful, big flying. They loved that you could find yourself orbiting across from bald eagles and turkey vultures working the cliff-front thermals that lead to the ridge tops.
They were gobsmacked by the route options, including our radical "vol-bivi" opportunities (paraglide alpine bivouacking). Some were intimidated by our gaping valley crossings, but they learned to find the bullets that usually get you across. Sunny evenings, they discovered our magic lift, powered by cool, katabatic air slipping downslope under a warm, stable, valley air mass, lifting the entire body and every wing in it inexorably until dusk.
Several pilots reported they got more, higher-quality adventure flying here in one week than all year back home. With this comp, Pemberton's become a top international free-flying aspiration.
The competition organizers, Jim Orava and I, would like to greatly thank our competitors for coming and for their sportsmanship. Likewise, we gratefully thank our 37 volunteers, many of whom came from out of town and abroad to bring their passion, specialized knowledge and experience to the comp. They served as race officials, in logistical support, emergency response and hospitality. They were dedicated and they sacrificed. They got shirts.
We'd also like to thank, in no preferential order, Pemberton-area local governments, our public emergency responders, our sponsors, local businesses and media, and of course, our residents and local First Nations. You were all superb and understanding of the unique demands of the competition, of our learning experience in producing the comp for the first time, and of the impact our sport creates in a close community like Pemberton. Loving thanks to the forbearance of our wives and families. Thank you especially to those local landowners who volunteered their lands for auxiliary goal fields and for emergency landing spots.
Our visiting racers continually expressed a lot of gratitude and respect for the significant volunteer effort of the local flying community and our Canadian Sport Flying Associations (West Coast Soaring Club, Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada) over many years to develop the required infrastructure and establish the regulatory compliance and safety protocols that create the free-flying opportunity we enjoy here. With the overwhelmingly positive comp reviews we've been hearing, I expect we'll see significant growth in tourism visits from airsports pilots, friends and families in years to come.
Finally, we sadly acknowledge the tragic loss of competitor John Clifford in a flying accident during a race. He was a true competitor and fellow adventurer and will be missed. We will continue, for John and for all other airmen and women, before and after, who know the joy and cost of our freedom to fly.
Expect another, bigger World Cup-style paragliding event in Pemberton in 2014.
All the best,
Co-organizer, Canadian Paragliding National Championships