2008 General Assembly
President Annual Report
Dear pilots, dear members,
The 2008 tour will end again this year with around 20 tasks despite the weather conditions that have not been helping much (foehn in switzerland, wind in spain and here wind and weak thermals).
As our events mainly took place in Europe this year, we have less members compared to the past year, with a total of 241.
At the same time we had the highest number of registrations ever with an incredible increase of more than 50% compared to last year. When we started the first selections, we had already more than 300 pilots registering for most events. It is clear a confirmation that the World Cup events are getting more and more attractive for pilots from all over the world.
To have a more open World Cup the committee has proposed a new format that is creating a super final in addition to the World Cup events. You decided last year, during the general assembly, to have a major vote on this subject. The vote has confirmed by almost 80% that pilots were in favor of the new format we proposed.
The definitive changes in our rules will be done by the committee during its usual autumn meeting in mid november. This meeting will for the first time be 3 days long.
The 2009 season already includes 5 events plus the super final. There will also be some more events in autumn that will be part of the 2010 season.
The ending tour has also been marked by one fatal accident in Castejon. I ask you for a minute of silence in the memory of Dmitry.
This fatal accident is the second we had in the World Cup since its start in 1992. Since I've been involved in the World Cup, I've seen all the efforts of the committee to keep safety as a top priority when writing our competition rules and taking decisions.
But safety also requires constant efforts from the pilot's side like taking the report back as a very serious thing and not as “one more thing to do”, be also sure to have your radio correctly tuned on the safety frequency at all time, fill your safety form with useful details, etc. One of these things may save your life or another pilot's life.
Like most air sport, paragliding is not a dangerous sport as long as risks are under control.
Dmitry's accident showed some hole in our report back procedure. We have immediately improved it by having a second level and independent control.
We also studied different systems to track pilot's positions in flight. The most universal one we found is SPOT as it does not depend on local infrastructure like mobile phone network. As it is still not perfect, we won't make it mandatory, but we encourage pilots do have one and provide us their SPOT public page so that we can track them if necessary. The good news is that we managed to get a good rebate for the World Cup members after negotiating directly with the SPOT company on the price of the equipment itself.
Last point and quite important one: I decided to resign as president and committee member.
This means that you'll have to elect a new president during this General Assembly, and you'll have a real choice as we have two candidates: Semih Sayir and Goran Dimiskovski.
I will remain available as much as possible to help the transition, help Laura with her work like selections, finances, web site, etc.
I think you must be well aware that there is a lot of work to do in many different areas to run the World Cup as it is and even more to improve it.
The current budget of the World Cup do not allow to pay people to do most of the needed work and thus depends on a lot of volunteering work. This is common in a non for profit organization like our but usually there is a minimum of 3 persons to share the very basic work of any association: the president, the general secretary and the treasurer. In our case the last two are fully virtual and I'm just talking of the very basic work.
If the volunteering work is not shared, it is concentrated on a very small number of persons.
It happens that one day or another it is too much to handle and leads to some kind of “volunteer burn out”.
It may also happen that someone becomes so indispensable that he starts to control everything even if it is not his goal. This generates tensions that may degenerate sooner or later.
To avoid these two traps, more people must get involved and take a small part of the work.
I'm happy to see 3 candidates for the committee election, but you must know that you don't have to be elected to start taking part to the committee. The committee can have advisors, and you can also help some committee members taking care of a topic you're interested in.
Never forget that the Paragliding World Cup Association is an association of pilots created by pilots, for pilots. We are not a company, and you and not consumers.
I hope you'll understand my decision and I want to thank you for the great moments I've shared with many of you and all the things I've learnt during these 9 years.
Castelo, Brazil – Oct. 2nd 2008