2010 XC-Open Manilla

Competition results  
pdfOverall Mike Cavanagh (GB) Ozone Mantra 3
  Ivan Anissimov (AU) Gin Boomerang 5
  Lindsay Wootten (AU) Gradient Avax XC 2
pdfWomen Gaynor Schoemann (ZAF) Swing Astral 6
pdfSerial Class Mike Cavanagh (GB) Ozone Mantra 3
pdfSport Class Mark Graham (GB) Axis Vega 2
pdfFun Class Jerry Furnell (AUS) Gin Sprint

Saturday 6-FEB-2010, no task  


8th and final day 

Its 07:00 on the last day. It is a very cloudy morning and its just stopped raining: It's 18 degrees with a wind from the NE blowing at 26km/h average, 34km/h max. The local forecast is saying light to moderate E to NE winds, so that should be fine. Rain and isolated storms are forecast which could stop the day. I don't know how the day will turn out, lets see.

13:00 still on Hold: Its pretty grey to the west but brighter to the North.

Its 14:00. While we are on hold, we can look at what might happen:
Today if we have a scoring task, it will score 1000 points just as any other day. BUT, now that we have had 4 days, the fifth day will mean we can drop our worst task. That means that Ivan can overtake Mike and win if they both have an equally very good day. Klaus-Guenter can win if Mike and Ivan each have an average day. Second place is open to anyone in the top 10. No one at the top is safe in their position.Waiting for the weather is quite painful.

14:30: Day cancelled due to rain. Mike and I have just had a cold beer, with Ivan still wanting to go for a fly (it looks like it'll rain soon). It looks like my analysis of the top ten possibilities was a fruitless exercise.

The competition is finished after 4 tasks.
Well done to Mike Cavanagh on his Ozone Mantra M3 for winning both Open and Serial class.
Well done to Ivan Anissimov on his Gin Boomerang 5 for coming second overall.
Well done to Lindsay Wootten on his Gradient XC2 for coming second Serial class and third overall.
Well done to Klaus-Guenter Eberle on his Aircross U Sport for coming third Serial class and fourth overall.
Well done to Mark Graham on his Axis Vega II for winning Sports class and fifth overall.
Well done to Jerry Furnell on his Gin Sprint for winning Fun class and twenty fourth overall.
Well done to Gaynor Schoeman on her Swing Astral 6 for winning the womens class and thirty third overall.


Over 30 pilots (1/2 the field) flew personal bests including all the top 12 pilots on the epic first days task! Each day had many flights over 100kms with the winning distances being 258kms, 106kms, 117kms and 188kms. There were no accidents or incidents aside from a Brazilian driver crashing a retrieve van after losing control a gravel road.

Best distance of the week was Dominik Frei of Switzerland who flew 258kms to just short of Lightening Ridge (the famous Opal mining town) on the first day!

A local record for distance to the S-SW direction was broken by New Caledonian Stephan Guilbert when he landed at Dunedoo 188kms away on the last day.

Pilots enjoyed an Aussie BBQ at HQ on the presentation night and cheered all the PB's who received their certificates. Over A$4000 in prizes sponsored by ADVANCE, Manilla Paragliding and The Royal Hotel were handed out to the winners and as day prizes over the week. Pilots partied on in various locations until the early hours. The 4 reserve days were not needed for the event but most pilots are still here and flying XC for the next few days (which look quite good).

A big thanks to local organiser Godfrey Wenness for daily briefings, weather reports and all of the background work needed for a successful event. Thanks to Matt Rosser for scoring and meat head. Thanks of course to Hans and Andreas for the whole XC-Open series.

Next stop is Piedrahita at the end of August for the final of the series.

Friday 5-FEB-2010, no task  

7th day 

Its 07:00 on day seven. It is a cloudy morning with cloud left over from last night's showers: It's 19 degrees with a wind from the E blowing at 20km/h average, 29km/h max. The local forecast is saying moderate to fresh Northerly winds. If that happens then I doubt we'll fly but other forecasts show lighter windes from the NE... I'll go with those ones today. Rain is also mentioned in the forecast so we'll have to see how the morning develops.

11:00 Briefing at RSL Club 
Day was cancelled due to strong winds at launch. Late in the afternoon some more experienced pilots flew a small XC launching in the lull's. One of the pilots (Ion of Sydney) flew a late afternoon 67kms in less than 2 hours and reported big fat thermals up to 5m/s.. BUT also that launch was a "bit scarey" as the thermals coming through were very strong (45-50km/h) and lasted for 15mins at a time !!

Godfrey also ran a well attended 2hr XC workshop for Fun Class and other pilots to assist them to get more out of their flying day.

There is a good chance of a task tomorrow. Today's predicted rain is arriving: A storm brewing over Manilla as darkness falls. There are a few cells around the area showing up on the radar.

Thursday 4-FEB-2010, task 4  

6th day 

Its 07:00 on day six. It is a bright morning with very little low cloud but some high cirrus: It's 17 degrees with a wind from the NNE blowing at 23km/h average, 27km/h max. The local forecast is saying light to moderate E to NE winds so it should be less windy than yesterday.

11:30 Briefing on the hill

We all gathered on the NE launch; the lowest of the launches, not favoured by many. It is easy to bomb out from this launch. The forecast was for the day to develop and more cloud to come in from the East. Godfrey's advice was to get away as soon as possible and the window opened at 11:50. The first pilots went off as a few shadows came across and struggled, halting the launching for a few minutes. There were a few bomb-outs, but as the sun returned more launched and the gaggles started to slowly rise. The first gaggle of around 30 pilots got to cloud base at 1700m above launch and around half dropped over the back into unforgiving sink, finding themselves needing a climb just 5km from launch. The 'clever' ones waited for the leaders to find a climb then jumped in from above and the day was under way.

With the significant amounts of wet cloud shading the ground the climbs were slow and the pilots were cautious again; another day to stay with your friends. The wind took us SW over lake Keepit, some went to the East of it and some to the West of it. Both were slow. At the 30km mark there were some better clouds with some stronger climbs, but the clouds grew and dissipated quite quickly and good timing was crucial. The front runners were staying ahead but not going very fast. Those behind not in groups had to take it very slowly.

Most went to the East of Gunnadah but not everyone in the same direction and the field spread. Around 14:00 a band of high Cirrus swept through from the North shading large areas of the ground for over an hour. It was survival flying then. Get high stay high: Nice theory! The leaders, around 6 or 7 I think, kept going losing a pilot every now and then. Once the Cirrus passed through the day picked up again I imagine (I didn't survive) and people flew until the end of the day.

Speaking to Mike, he says at the 90km point he headed a little more to the east, seeing a range of hills ahead he wanted to avoid (the Liverpool range). He was with Stephan, Lindsay and Bob and a couple of others. They didn't get too caught by the Cirrus and managed to stay relatively high. They passed to the West of the range heading SW and the wind was pretty much good for that direction. At 145km out, approaching Coolah a big development to their East forced them further West over forest and undulating hills. Mike landed 160km from Borah at around 18:00, still with an hour before the task deadline. He landed in shade, but the sunny spots were close by and very nearly took another climb at the end. Stephan managed to go a bit further. When asked about the easiest part of the day he said none of it, it was all pretty slow and hard going.

Provisional results:

  • 1st and 1st Serial class: Stephan Guilbert (FR, Ozone Mantra 3) with 188.7km.
  • 2nd: Ivan Anissimov (AU, Gin Boomerang 5) with 175.5km.  
  • 3rd: Klaus-Guenter Eberle (DE, Aircross U Sport) with 168.2km.
  • 4th: Lindsay Wootten (Au, Gradient Avax XC2) with 165.5km.
  • 5th: Mike Cavanagh (GB, Ozone Mantra 3) with 164.9km.
  • 6th and 1st Sport class: Claus Vischer (DE, Swing Astral 6) with 163.2km.
  • 12th and 1st Fun class: Jerry Furnell (Au, Gin Sprint) with 108.0km. 

Mike is still winning the competition and Ivan is second now. Next is Lindsay followed by Klaus-Guenter. 

pdf Task 4 provisional

Wednesday 3-FEB-2010, task 3  

5th day 

Its 07:00 on day five. It is a very similar morning to yesterday with less wind on the hill: It's 17 degrees with a wind from the NE blowing at 25km/h average, 31km/h max. The local forecast is saying moderate to fresh E to NE winds so it will be windy. There is a possibility that they are wrong though, we'll see later.

11:30 Briefing on the hill

We flew. It was tricky to start with, and in the middle, and at the end. The rest was easy!
We all arrived on Borah as the sky was overcast and the East launch windy; the gum trees were waving and hats were flying. But it didn't take long for the wind to drop and at midday a task was called, open distance via 3 optimised turn-points with the window opening at 12:15.

The swiss boys were off first and made it look easy to stay up and gradually more pilots joined in. At that point it didn't look like the day would go anywhere with no thermals, lots of cloud and some ridge lift. Then, with about 30 in the sky, some thermic lift came through and a gaggle went slowly up and back. The lift was quite widespread and with around 25 gliders boating around we managed to get to cloud base at 1700m, having drifted about 3km over the back; it was a very slow climb. A short, though fast, glide later we were down to 1000m looking for lift. A couple headed off further, but the bulk stayed in zeroes and small bubbles for the next 35 minutes in the slowest flying I have ever done. It did pay off eventually as the group got high again. At that point, about 20km out approaching the Kelvin ridge, the gaggle fell apart: Some pushed on while some tried to get that bit higher. Anyone flying on their own for that first section would have had a tough time, it was very slow and difficult.

The sky ahead had a little more sunshine and greyer clouds, whereas behind there were small showers around launch which would affect anyone who hadn't already left. The thermals were improving as we headed to the SW; most were trying to push more south because of the paragliding munching forest out west, though the wind was almost completely from the East. It was still tricky to find the thermals and gradually people were landing. Eventually, around 17:00 the sky was quite cloudy again. This combined with the cross wind track made it too difficult to continue. The winners glided a further 10km into a part of the forest that was a dead end, while a couple tried to push south to get around the southern most tip of the forest but got flushed down.

Although the day was quite windy, the flying was very pleasant, mellow and smooth. Flying with your friends made it easier. The tricky conditions at launch took their toll, with 17 flying minimum distance and 9 didn't fly.

Provisional results:

  • 1st: Satoshi Meguro (JP, Swing Stratus WRC) with 117.2km.
  • 2nd and 1st Serial class: Stephan Guilbert (FR, Ozone Mantra 3) with 116.7km.
  • 3rd: Klaus-Guenter Eberle (DE, Aircross U Sport) with 113.7km.
  • 4th: Bob Smith (Au, Advance Omega 7) with 110.1km.
  • 5th and 1st Sport class: Mark Graham (GB, Axis Vega 2) with 108.2km.
  • 25th and 1st Fun class Jerry Furnell (Au, Gin Sprint) with 40.5km.

Mike takes the lead now, from Dominik then Mark then Ivan.

pdf Task 3 provisional

Tuesday 2-FEB-2010, no task  

4th day 

Its 07:00 on day four. It didn't rain yesterday and it's lovely and sunny outside just now, with some ragged wet low cloud around. Looks like a nice day but with moderate to fresh Easterly winds forecast there is a low probability of a task. On the hill it's 16 degrees with a wind from the ENE blowing at 40km/h average, 53km/h max.

11:00 Briefing at RSL Club

At the briefing Godfrey handed out some day prizes for the first two tasks and, as always, gave a good run down of the current weather situation: The remnants of Olga are still around causing us problems. With a little less wind we could have an epic day, but instead the day is cancelled. We are going fishing, golfing, fossicking, sail-planing, web browsing, swimming, knitting and any general self-improvement activity.
Later we will probably socialize in the bar and talk about how good tomorrow will be. There is a ground handling competition on the world's most difficult glider out at Godfrey's farm, I don't know what that glider is, though I think its the black one they call the Widow Maker.

Godfrey writes:  An extreme ground handling competition was organised at Godfrey's place with the usual cartons of beer prizes available. 21 Pilots entered in the strong gusty conditions to tackle the specially prepared extreme difficulty gliders. The black widow beast.. a 10kg 1990 vintage proto donated by Ivan was the most difficult to tame with most managing only a few seconds of over the head flying. A worn out UP Kendo comp glider circa 1994 was also in the event. Pilots had around 15mins on each one to obtain the most time in forward running position in a single go before losing it. Helpers were there to ensure not too many got blown away. Winner was Laurent Blaize (New Caledonia) with a combined 2 glider time of 2min 27sec, followed by Sebastian Benz (Swiss) 1min 42 sec and 3rd Xavier Girin (New Caledonia) 1min 15sec. In the highly contested ladies section Janine Krauchi (Aus - Rainbow Beach) won with 46sec, with Choi Lai Yin (HK) in 2nd 34sec and Jenny Persson (Aus - Adelaide) in 3rd. The beer prizes never tasted as good as they did after this hot sweaty and windy session. Ivan, Andy and Frederic scored the event and Godfrey sponsored the beer and played DJ.

Other pilots went to Lake Keepit for some swimming and extreme kite surfing as some of the pilots present were experts and instructors.


Monday 1-FEB-2010, no task  

3rd day 


Its 07:00 on day three. The sky has a very grey look about it, though its not raining. On the hill its 16 degrees with a wind from the NE blowing 30km/h average, 36km/h max.

Today's forecast is not good. Moderate to fresh winds from the NE to E which look stronger than yesterday. That and Scattered showers too make me think we won't be flying, we'll see what happens in the briefing...

10:30 Briefing at RSL Club

Godfrey's weather briefing showed the progress of the rain associated with Ex-Tropical Cyclone Olga. It's getting closer but should slide off to the East as it dissipates. The comp was on hold to see what the wind was going to do.

12:00 Task cancelled due to strong wind and rain later.

The day was cancelled by SMS to all pilots at 12:00. It is certainly windy in Manilla now.

Ivan, who won the day yesterday described his flight: He set off late and found lift in front of the rain (not in the rain) that was slowly heading SW. He was flying faster than the rain, but had to hang back to let it catch up at times. He says there was no problem with the size of the clouds and he knew he could fly away if needs be. In fact, he landed when his options ran out as he hit what we call the Pilliga scrub, an impenetrable forest the size of a small country. Had he been 15km further south he could have continued. When faced with the forest or turning back towards the rain he decided to land and landed more or less in a barn. It wasn't long before the rain hit him, but he was of course dry. Please don't take Ivan's story as the correct way to fly far using rain showers; he has a lot of experience doing this.

All of the other pilots who flew distance landed because of the deteriorating weather and there were no incidents or drama. Now that's a good thing.

There is an organised / disorganised lawn bowls bash going on at the moment. Who knows what will happen there.

Sunday 31-JAN-2010, Task 2  

2nd day 


Its 07:00 on day two. The sky has quite a lot of cirrus with wet cumulus to the east. On the hill its 16 degrees with a wind from the NE blowing 18km/h average, 26km/h max.

Today's forecast is not very good. Moderate winds from the NE to SE which look possibly stronger than yesterday. The rain that was predicted for tomorrow may arrive later today or tonight. My advice: launch early again, and dodge any big clouds.

09:30 Briefing at RSL Club
11:30 Briefing on launch

The wind on launch was less gusty than yesterday, but more cloud meant trickier thermals. Window was opened at 12:15, with the same open distance via 3 free choosen waypoints task (fly where it looks best) as yesterday. No mad rush to launch, but the early launchers managed to go up. Pushing out and up, out and up. The first gaggle of around 6 pilots left launch at about 1400m to go over the back. Most got out as a rain shower marched in from the North. The pilots flew SW towards Gunnedah getting pushed by the ENE wind. The sky was more grey over the ranges to the East and looked better out in front of the course line.

Climbs on course were far apart due to the cloud cover and the gaggles split, leaving some lonely pilots landing randomly into the scenery. Some landed as the clouds got bigger, some continued. The second gaggle took a long time to leave launch due to unfavourable wind and lack of sun, which meant they needed to go quickly to catch-up with the leaders.

6 pilots got minimum distance. 27 pilots, mostly novice pilots knowing their capabilities, decided not to fly due to deteriorating conditions. Sound decisions all round. Its a shame that the conditions are so tricky, but that's paragliding. We hope for classic Manilla conditions soon after the low pressure system - the remnants of tropical cyclone Olga named after Ivan Anissimovs wife, winner of task 2 - will be gone.

Provisional results:

  • 1st: Ivan Anissimov (AU, Gin Boomerang 5) with 106.3km.
  • 2nd: Dominik Frei (CH, Gin Boomerang 5) with 101.4km.
  • 3rd and 1st Serial class: Mike Cavanagh (GB, Ozone Mantra 3) with 101.3km.
  • 4th and 1st Sport class: Sebastian Benz (CH, Nova Factor) with 98.8km.
  • 5th: Klaus-Guenter Eberle (DE, Aircross U Sport) with 98km.
  • 14th and 1st Fun class Jerry Furnell (Au, Gin Sprint) with 54.2km.

This leaves Dominik leading after two days, followed by Mike, Ivan then Mark.

pdf Task 2 final

Saturday 30-JAN-2010, Task 1  

1st day 


Its 07:00 on day one. The sky is totally blue and on the hill its 18 degrees with a wind from the NE blowing 16km/h average, 24km/h max. It's too early for that to mean anything but it may be interesting to someone.

Today's forecast is for wind from the SE to NE, light to moderate. If the wind doesn't get too strong then we may have a cracking day, although we could be sat on the hill blown out; fingers crossed. My advice: If possible launch early my friends.

08:30 Briefing at RSL Club
11:30 Briefing on launch

Godfreys task briefing predictions for around 250kms were not far off and we had people sat on launch AND people flying far. Its just past midnight and the stories are still coming in. There are 8 tracks still to download and they probably belong to the distance people. The best I've heard is over 260km, we'll know details in the morning.

The wind on launch was strong; strong enough to keep around 20 Fun Class pilots on the ground. Launching started at midday and the pilots dribbled off and slowly pushed forward. The thermals and the conditions quite good with 3m/s climbs to 1800m, enough to fly off downwind. It seems that most of the early pilots didn't get too far whereas those that hesitated may have had a better run.

Once on-route the climbs were mellow, sometimes hard to find and only going to 2000m. The good thing was the ground speed with a tail wind of 20-30km/h. The wet cotton fields and river valley which starts about 50km out slowed progress and caught a few pilots no doubt. From the 100km point beyond Narrabri the clouds were further apart and the Cirrus stopped anything big developing, in fact the cirrus stopped nearly anything developing! The clouds did have climbs up to 5m/s but mainly only 1m/s, still drifting with a speed of 30km/h downwind. At the end of the day the wind was still above 20km/h, though climbs could be found to above 2500m. Not many pilots were still flying at the 19:00 deadline. We'll bring you the results as soon as possible.

Provisional results:
  • 1st: Dominik Frei (CH, Gin Boomerang 5) with 258km.
  • 2nd and 1st Serial class: Mike Cavanagh (GB, Ozone Mantra 3) with 256.5km.
  • 3rd and 1st Sport class: Mark Graham (GB, Axis Vega II) with 245.6km.
  • 4th: Ivan Anissimov (AU, Gin Boomerang 5) with 237.7km.
  • 5th: Laurent Blaize (FR, Advance Omega 7) with 179.7km.
  • 6th and 2nd Sport class: Johnny Ho (HK, Advance Sigma 7) with 174.2km.
  • 28th and 1st Fun class: Choi Lai Yin (HK, Ozone Rush 2) with 43.4km.
There were around 15 personal bests including all of the top 12. Unfortunately 24 didn't fly.
Well done too to Xavier Girin flying 151.2km aboard his Fun Class Gradient Golden 2 (note, actually he is flying an Aspen 3, but well done anyway).

What I failed to mention was that the task was open distance, optimised around 3 turnpoints, which most of them will be this week I think.

pdf Task 1 final

Friday 29-JAN-2010  

Registration day


It's the day before the start of the competition and pilots have been arriving all week.

The build-up has been a bit slow; the weather wasn't fantastic this week with some Northerly (the only unfavourable direction for launching) winds and some overdevelopment. Its been 40°C; the hottest days occur with the North winds.

Yesterday the wind-talker (aka the bitch, seen in the photo with Bob the fixer / bodger ) was giving 60km/h winds in the morning even though the forecast was for around 20km/h. In true Manilla fashion, the wind was down to 10km/h by about 12:00 and some pilots were launching. A couple of them got away whilst a few hung on for a very slow bomb-out to the west. I don't know yet where they ended up.
As more pilots arrived on launch the sky was filling fast with large clouds and the few pilots left to launch decided against it. The clouds became bigger and eventually the rain came down accompanied by thunder and lightening. 11mm of rain fell in Manilla 15km South of launch.

For those who don't know the flying site Mount Borah:

  • Mount Borah launches are around 900m asl and have a top to bottom of around 400m which is sometimes not enough to find and get established in a thermal. Early in the day it can be difficult to find the first climb so bombing-out is not unusual and even the best pilots do it.
  • The West launch is 7000 m² large and gives a steep drop to the LZ. The West is more often the afternoon launch.
  • The East launch is slightly smaller but still big enough for a large competition. It is less steep and further to the LZ. Add this to the earlier starts here and it can be trickier to get away from than the West side. Some say it is less reliable than the West but I like both of them.
  • There is also a South launch for the truly fickle days. It isn't used so much but can be a nice option.
  • The North East launch: A slightly lower take-off and shallower run-off for the days that the Northerly wind tries to stop us flying.
  • The Basher is a Toyota 'troopy' (a land cruiser that has bench seats in the back) which shuttles people to the top of the hill. With a full load and a trailer full of gliders it takes 10-15 minutes for the trip. The ride up the West is a steep 4 wheel drive track and can be alarming for the faint-hearted. The east side can be tackled by 2 wheel drives but is not a good idea when its wet.
  • There is a webcam on the mountain.
  • Here is a good collection of weather information
  • The 'normal' long distance flights go North up the main highway, or to the WNW out along dirt roads across farmland and cotton fields. The real laser-flat lands start at about 120km from launch. Before that there is mainly dry undulating terrain. It is possible to fly in all directions. To the East and North-East there are a lot more hills (and less roads) and the great dividing range. About 40km to the South is Tamworth airport with a 16km airspace around it, but that's really the only no-fly zone.

Today has a good forecast of light winds from the South, though its 8:00 am and the sky is pretty cloudy and the day cool. We are expecting the conditions to improve towards midday, but storms are also likely later. Hopefully it will be a good pre-comp day, but only the weather-gods know for sure.

Indeed, pilots started launching at 12:00 though launch was still a little overcast. It wasn't as hard as expected, though slow, to climb out to a heady 1600m; more would have been better. The wind was from the west and the prediction of storms made it difficult to really go anywhere. Some went to Manilla and beyond, some stayed on the ridge for a nice boat around. The clouds grew and the thermals got stronger, until around15:00 when most pilots had landed somewhere.The storms didn't hit Manilla this time, but the monster clouds were everywhere.

Not a bad day, but now the comp starts.