Statement from the competition director

Richard Meredith-Hardy

Since 1997 I have directed three World Paramotor Championships ( 1999, 2001 & 2003), the 1997 World Air Games, the 1998 World Cup and numerous UK National and other smaller competitions in Russia, Spain and China. I also did all the flight analysis and scoring at the 2005 World Championships and I have been on the International Jury three times.

So, it is clear I am familiar with the organizational side of things, but what do I know about actually flying in Paramotor competitions? Well, I was European microlight champion in 1988 and World Champion in 1990 so I have won a few medals in my time, but it may surprise you to hear that I have also competed twice in Paramotors, with 16th place in the 2000 EPC and 17th place in the 2002 EPC.

So I have seen it from both sides of the fence. I can tell you it is much easier being a competitor! In fact it is such a hard job being Competition Director that I swore after the last time I did it in 2003 that I would never do it again. Well, here we are, six years later and I am doing it again, and I will try my best to make it one of the best Championships ever.

I hope I can say that at all the competitions I’ve organized I have tried something new rather than just repeating the same old mistakes. In 2009 I would like to do it like I did for the 2006 UK Nationals which set a single open window for the entire championship and pilots were free to fly any of the tasks in any order they liked whenever they liked. It created a completely different strategy for pilots, they flew much more, and the overall management was much easier. But we can’t do this because it needs a different kind of scoring system and for WPC we are bound by the FAI rules and task catalogue, so instead I will be concentrating on fixing some of the worst problems. Most notably these are confused and eternally long briefings, and the huge delays before task results are published.

Publish in advance

First, I will repeat the excellent idea proposed by Jan Bem for WMC 2009 and publish all the tasks in advance. They will be on this intranet website at least 6 weeks before the championship.

Of course the ‘key’ elements will be missing so people can’t practise the tasks in advance, and timings, turnpoint locations and so on will be delivered just before the actual task briefing, but each ‘advance’ brief will otherwise be complete and will be the one the pilot uses to fly the task. What I want is all team leaders and pilots to look at these briefs, and if there’s anything which is difficult to understand, confusing, missing, or just wrong, I want to hear about it so I can improve the brief before anyone arrives at Nové Mesto nad Metují.

If an actual task briefing takes longer than 10 minutes, then you can shout loudly that I have failed.

Hopefully each briefing will take half that time.

If the tasks are published in advance, it means the scoring systems can also be prepared in advance, but each flight still has to be analysed. The process is relatively simple, but it does take time; basically all the ‘key’ elements of a pilot’s performance need to be collected together from marshals notes (eg takeoff times) or flight recorder evidence (eg successfully passed turnpoints or gate times) before they can be given to the scorer.

What we will try to do is establish much more efficient ways of collecting this data, so for example the first thing each pilot must do after landing is go to the flight recorder data station and get their flight downloaded. This means the analysis can start the moment the first pilot has landed, and in turn the scoring can be started.

I can’t promise ‘instant’ scoring, FAI rules aren’t really compatible with that, but we will try to publish scores much faster than has been the norm in recent years.

No paper - no delays

Part of this process involves doing away with the vast quantities of paper which get printed at every championship, in 2003 we printed 16,000 pieces of paper. This year I want to reduce this by at least a factor of 10. The championship site will have good wireless internet and most information which is usually printed will instead be delivered via this intranet, which will work on the wireless network at the site whether there is an internet connection or not.

The key point here, is the organization will not be producing much printed stuff, and that includes task briefs. If teams want printed stuff, they must print it themselves.

The rules require the printed scores are on the official notice board, and if we have to do that then we will, but I would prefer to not even have that, but have a screen displaying them instead.

Flight recorders

All of these things are achievable with a bit of thought and preparation, but there is still one big outstanding problem which is the shortage of GPS flight recorders. There are only two types currently approved by CIMA, the MLR, which is no longer available, and the Air Observer from South Africa. It is not unusual for one third of competitors to come to a championships without a flight recorder, but this year it seems very unlikely there will be any available on loan or to rent, so pilots will have to come with their own flight recorders, or not get a score.

You will be pleased to hear that there is a solution; I have been testing several types of new and very reasonably priced GPS loggers and they look very promising. The biggest problem is the special software needed to efficiently download their data and I have been collaborating with various people to create this, and it is known as FRDL - Flight Recorder DownLoader.

I am confident that a reasonable time in advance of the championships the CIMA Flight Recorder Approval Committee will be able to authorize their use at WMC and WPC 2009. With these, there will be no reason why all pilots cannot come to either championships equipped with their own flight recorders.

Do not expect the championship organization to have flight recorders for sale or rent - you MUST organize this for yourself in advance.

The tasks

As stated above, all tasks will be published in advance on this website. A summary will indicate each task's status (ie draft or final), once tasks are final, pilots and teams should expect to print their own task sheets, they will NOT be provided by the organization.

The airfield at Nové Mesto nad Metují is a lovely place to hold a safe and fun World Paramotor championships. In the north of Czech Republic close to the Polish border, it has a bit of everything; flat open countryside one way, hills and valleys the other. I can guarantee there will be some challenging navigation tasks.

There are three new precision tasks in the task catalogue this year which pilots should practice before they arrive to compete.

The schedule

There will be one practice task run sometime in the two days before the opening day.

The first competition day will be the Friday and it will run through to the following Saturday so there will be two more competition days than has been usual. This will hopefully take a lot of pressure off everyone, especially if there is poor weather, and help to make a better and more fair championship.

The ultimate objective

As it says in the rules: The purpose of the championships is to provide good and satisfying contest to determine the champion in each class and to reinforce friendship amongst pilots and nations.

We will try to do just that!

Times may be difficult, but I hope you will make an effort to come and participate.

See you in Nové Mesto nad Metují!

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