Despite working most of the Easter weekend, I was able to gab a few hours and head down to Wolfgat Nature Reserve, on the shore of False Bay near Cape Town. Here, when the southerly winds blow against the dunes and low sea cliffs, one can enjoy hours of simple, smooth soaring. Equipped with my beloved Gradient XC3 glider, a lightweight Sup’Air harness and my GoPro, I took my turn cavorting over the cliffs and doing wingovers above the waves with the playful gulls. Magic. Watch in HD if you can.
Wolfgat Soaring – Easter 2014 from Ross Hofmeyr on Vimeo
The video was shot on GoPro and then, as an experiment, I downloaded the footage wirelessly and edited the entire thing on my iPad. It’s a bit of a rough cut but amazes me that the technology has advanced to the stage where this is possible. It also makes converting your fun footage into something shareable while traveling a serious option. Impressive.
The music is by an artist specializing in ‘Chillstep’ (relaxed melodic dubstep) that I am really enjoying at the moment, called Blackmill. Check out his stuff on iTunes and elsewhere online. Kudos.
So that we can do some of this:
SpeedFlying – France 2012 from bartoszplewa on Vimeo.
For the uninitiated, this is “Speedflying” – a crossover sport that amalgamates downhill skiing and paragliding. The speedflying wings are very small (down to as little as 8m2, compared to around 26m2 for a normal paraglider) and are designed for speed and stability, with a large chord and narrow wingspan. The very high wing loading (mass per unit area) combined with this profile means that the wings are very resistant to collapse, but they are also exceptionally responsive and lose dramatic height in turns.
Not all speedflying is done on ski’s: there are wings available for foot launching that have slower take-off and landing speeds, but trimmers allow them to be accelerated for descent. They tend to be compact and light. Another advantage is that they can be flown in stronger winds, allowing the hike-up-fly-down philosophy to expand into weather conditions not conducive to normal paragliding off mountain summits. The big drawback is sink rate and glide angle: these are not cross-country machines. I’ve flown the brilliant Ozone XT16 a few times, including soaring it at Dasklip Pass in strong winds that would prevented anything else launching. Awesome.
The new classes of hybrids (somewhere between a speed wing and a paraglider) and miniwings (small wings with a normal paraglider profile) deserve to be watched with great attention by the mountaineering pilots…