When I went to Annecy in April to do the SIV, I had just received a new glider and before doing the SIV, only had 40 minutes of flight and 3 hours of ground handling on it. It was the perfect way to see the abilities of my glider and see any strengths or weaknesses. I’m going to write a ton of information but only because I’d like to help educate on every detail of the SIV and how valuable it was for me!
The day started around 7 am. We met at Seiko’s house where we hung in our harnesses as she adjusted them so the position was better when in the air flying and just in case we needed to get up and out, if a water landing. For example, she told the Slovenian National Team pilots that they lay too far back in their harnesses, like “they’re sleeping” she said. They said it’s a ‘Slovenian team secret’ to do that. Then she asked us to pull our reserves so she could correct our technique (following the riser down so if you’re spinning, there’s no whiplash) if necessary, or to make sure it comes out. Two of the pilots actually had a difficult time pulling it out. Charles repacked all of them back in before leaving to the Col de Forclaz launch. They also provided the water repellent bags for our radios, ear headphone for the radio, a floater for the reserve and a life jacket.
The launch is about 2500 ft over the water. Annecy has a saying that it is the “cleanest water in the world for SIV”. Throughout the day, you have 4 or 5 runs where you are able to practice the SIV decided another 3-6 times. Charles stays on launch with the pilots paying attention to launch techniques and making sure the pilots took off safely. Seiko stayed on the ground. Being an ex acro pilot, she has a wonderful eye for the technique of pilots. For me, being a beginner, we first practiced surges and quick exits. The surges have a specific timing that I didn’t know about. Then we would land at the lake LZ. Funny enough, I’d say that the best part about each run was not only how much altitude and times you could practice, but also just how relaxing her voice is. No matter what sort of disaster you made of your glider in the air, her voice was calm and always helped you out of the situations.
After the pilots completed each run, she would give us advice based on the notes she took. Being that it was pilots in all levels, some of us were doing the beginner SIV, others were doing stalls and helicopters. Her notes were thorough and well documented and then she would decide if you were ready to move on or if it was good to practice the chosen SIV a little more. At the end of the day, we all would go back to Seiko’s house and have a debriefing. You were able to see every pilot’s SIV video from the day and hear her advice. I was able to learn quite a bit about SIV I haven’t attempted before through this method. Again, being that she was an expert level acro pilot, she can see little details and fix them. This included everything from how to exit the SIV smoothly but even the way you hold yourself and your arms/hands/brakes, etc in the air.
In the spare time, such as getting the rides up to launch, it gives you an abundance of time to pick their brains. They both give information so willingly because all they want to do is raise the level of pilots.
I know that it has made me a better pilot in so many different aspects, which is why we talked to Charles and Seiko about creating an SIV only for American pilots. I believe that the amount of knowledge that not only do these two World Cup champions have is so valuable, but just France in general. I saw people top landing 12,000 ft peaks to pee (no pee tubes), people scratching from unbelievably low heights, tricky spot landings, etc. This comes from the amount of knowledge about the flying available there. It really is the paragliding capital of the world. Annecy makes you a better pilot and for us to be able to raise our flying standards here in US and make our pilots safer is important to growing our community.
I also know that Charles and Seiko would like to visit our flying community next year after the World Cup in Chelan, Washington, so it would be cool to be acquainted with them before they arrive!
If you guys have any questions about places to stay, flights, etc, feel free to send me a message! I have a lot of good sites and knowledge about the places to stay out there at low costs.
Thanks for reading! Happy and safe flying!