Rat Race Super Clinic and Rat Race/Sprint

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Rat Race Super Clinic and Rat Race/Sprint

Postby Benzie » Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:45 pm

Folks it's that time of year again, sounds like we will have a better showing this year for Colorado pilots then we did last year, some may think its too much money to come to this event some may not. I myself think it's well worth every penny and will be doing it again this year. This is great for those of you that are new to the sport or just want to learn more about your limitations, xc potential and not worry about the stress of being in a high end competition.

So take a look at all of the these notes and see what you think, hopefully we can get out more then a couple times before this event starts.

From: Gail Haley - Rat Race
Hi 2013 Rat Race pilots, staff and volunteers

The year 2014 has begun and I am behind more then I care to admit.
This will be the eleventh year of Rat Race. It has changed and evolved over the years but one thing remains the same. People keep coming back! So in anticipation for your return we will follow the same format of last year. We will offer the Rat Race, Rat Sprint and the Super Clinic.
So for now, here is a bit of information. The MPH Sports web site is currently under construction and a mess. No need to email me since I am aware and am working on solutions at present.

June 22 – 28th, 2014
Practice day June 21st, 2014.

Registration will open Feb. 15th, 2014.
Entry fee is $450.00

I will be in touch as registration approaches.

Thanks again for your patience and understanding as I work out details for Rat Race 2014.

Gail Haley
Rat Race Organizer

Rat Race Super Clinic
Rat Race Super Clinic
For P3 and experienced P2 pilots
June 21 – 28, 2014

In the spirit of furthering paragliding education in line with the Rat Race Mission, in 2013 Mike Haley added the first annual SUPER CLINIC for experienced P2 and P3 pilots wanting to further their education in flying cross country and beginning to learn how to compete. Three experienced instructors ~ Ken Hudonjoergensen, Kari Castle & Kay Tauscher ~ taught the course cooperatively for the 8 days. The course was a great success with all participants leaving with large grins and lots of good feedback on the course.

The clinic includes classes on thermal tracking, thermal flying, use of instruments, maneuvers review, weather, technique, advanced kiting skills, feedback on launches, in air coaching, mini-task setting, and multiple class & flying sessions each day (weather depending on flying). Course participants also got to sit in on mentoring classes associated with the Rat Race Competition as well.

This from Lee Overton, one of the 2013 participants:
“The Super Clinic's emphasis on thermal hunting, finding the core and staying in it changed how I fly. On-the-ground exercises for interpreting wing input and making instantaneous responses were surprisingly effective. Wing input became more interesting ~ more usable. We were given plenty of airtime to practice, with high flights in the mornings and afternoons, and some competition simulation with around-the-valley XC tasks. The next weekend after the clinic, applying the hunting and coring tips, I nailed a flight I'd been trying to make--launching from Tibbets Mountain near Cashmere, coring to 9K, and landing in Leavenworth. Thanks to Kay, Kari and Ken--they are wonderful people and excellent instructors. The clinic was great."

This year the SUPER CLINIC continues beginning June 21st -28th, 2014. Ken, Kari and Kay are all returning. Minimum requirements for the clinic are as follows: P3 pilots and P2 pilots with at least 50 flights, 15 hours of air time & 10 high altitude flights.
Also recommended are: some experience with thermal activity, and proficiency with kiting launching/landing skills.

More information from last year’s clinic can be found in the attached article by Jeff Gray (attached).

Rat Race Super Clinic

Ruch, Oregon
June 22-29, 2013

The Rat Race is now in it’s 11th year, and Mike Haley just doesn’t seem to let up in growing this event for the benefit of the sport. In his mission statement, he writes, “The mission of our aviation competitions is to provide safety, fun and education in a solid competition environment. It is our hope, that in doing so, we will encourage others to safely grow in the sport that we all love so passionately.” To this end, Mike introduced the Rat Race Sprint, designed to allow developing pilots to get a taste of (and for) competitive racing, while providing a mentoring program that encourages pilots to share their knowledge and experience.

This year, Mike has expanded his offerings to include the Rat Race Super Clinic for “those pilots P3 or above who want exceptional training that is not centered around a competition format.” To that end, the Super Clinic was devised with top-notch instructors. Kari Castle, Ken Hudonjorgensen and Kay Tauscher each brought their own expertise and perspective on a broad range of topics important to the aspiring cross-country pilots wanting to increase their thermalling and XC skills.

This all came in a concentrated package: 8 days (and I mean full days) of training that ran concurrently with the Rat Race and Sprint. This included ground school (classroom presentations on such topics as safety checks and pre-flight routines, thermal hunting and mapping, efficient flying, caring for gear, using instrumentation, flying tasks & more), getting into the air with instructor supervision, making new friends and enjoying the free flight community. Add to that the opportunity to tap into mentoring presentations offered on such issues as SIV and maneuvers, using XC Skies, speed to fly and using speed bar. Where else would you find such an extensive training opportunity for under $500? (Pretty much nowhere I’ve ever heard about). Then factor in meals (lunches were provided most days, informal dinners were available either at HQ at very reasonable prices or at specially organized events), transportation to launch and retrieve, and assorted welcoming goodies. Bottom line is that this is a high-value, intensive training experience within the budget of most of us.

If you can consider getting your P2 as graduating high school, earning your P3 is like getting through college. The Super Clinic is like graduate school: more intensive, focused and independent. Instructors recognize basic competencies and address material on a higher level. Students are more able to learn through discussion than simply by lecture. Course selection is more in the hands of the students, and independent study is built in. But there is no graduation; at this level, it is more obvious that the learning process will be life-long. As Ken noted, “The most experienced pilots know perhaps a hundredth of what can be known.”

Along this line, one of the most eye-opening aspects of this “seminar” format was being exposed to varying points of view. We were exposed to the thoughts and ideas of some of the best paragliding pilots in the US, listening to the pros and cons of issues like using the speed system, the stirrup, the mental picture one forms or what specific cues one keys on in efficient thermal flying, whether or not to keep you wing hooked in when packing it up. Hearing opposing views underscored that we are all responsible for making our own decisions and using our best judgment.

Our clinic began bright and early on the first day. It was a practice day for racers, while the “Super Clinicians” were in class until going to launch to observe and learn. We flew after the racers were in the air, and this gave our instructors their first observations of the skills we each brought to the table. By the second day, the weather became unflyable due to cloud cover and rain. Complain as we might, this was a blessing in disguise, as we were in a better position to digest the information laid before us without the distraction of wanting to be in the sky. Much was accomplished before the weather turned again at midweek. From one extreme to another, the final days of the Rat Race were sunny and hot. Very hot. As the terrain dried out, the mid-day air became increasingly active (bordering on rowdy for the newer initiates).

Our class included pilots of varying levels of thermalling and XC flying experience. While there is a disadvantage to having a great deal of diversity in skill levels, this didn’t seem to be a major problem in this first offering. As a whole, our group of students was friendly, mutually supportive, and a pleasure to hang out with. I hope to fly with them again often in the future.

With three separate events occurring simultaneously at the Rat Race, logistics became more complex, especially in terms of transportation to launch and providing retrieve. Initially, the schedule had the clinic going to launch at noon after morning seminars, then remaining on launch while racers launched (in theory, this would give us time to observe). Clinic members would then be allowed to launch after 3 pm. This did not make intuitive sense in terms of enduring 3 hours of “para-waiting” each day, as well as requiring launch during one of the more active times of day. Our instructors lobbied to change this and were successful, so that clinic members could launch before the racers’ start times, thus using gentler conditions and allowing the possibility of a second flight in the evening. This proved to be a much better arrangement.

I came to realize that flying in a race modality was great training for flying efficiently, even for non-competitive purposes (e.g., going on long XC flights). We “raced,” or rather, took part in tasks set that kept us within glide of our LZs. Tasks were designed as a more simplified version of what racers were doing. In one of our first attempts, many were able to reach goal (my instrument made a happy sound and produced a smiley-face; probably my favorite moment of the week!). Flying tasks also provided an opportunity for us to become more adept at working with our flight instruments. Waypoints had been downloaded at the beginning of the clinic, and entering the selected course became a matter of joining with others possessing the same instrument. Those using Flymaster products were in luck: not only did Jug Aggarwal give a mentoring seminar one evening on use of these products, but this is what our instructors used and were familiar with. Those of us with Flytec products had to fend for ourselves. Eventually, most of this was figured out, but additional expertise would have been welcomed.

One last suggestion: I believe the clinic would have had more impact if there were more “in air” instruction. My recommendation for future clinics would be to organize flying time around launching in small groups (chosen by experience level) with one instructor for each group. This would bring the “hands on” learning of maintaining the gaggle as racers often do, and by using radio communication, being able to augment awareness of conditions, strategies and decisions, and providing instantaneous feedback on thermalling efficiency.

Overall, I would consider this first “Super Clinic” as a great success and a welcomed opportunity to learn in the midst of all the excitement and collegiality of the Rat Race. I believe I speak for all the participants in expressing our appreciation to Mike Haley for making this possible. Special thanks are conveyed to our three instructors, whose willingness to give of their time and wisdom was beyond generous. Hopefully, the Super Clinic will be an annual offering. I have no doubt that it will only get better with time. I would highly recommend the Super Clinic to anyone with an interest in either competitions or XC flying, or who would simply like to experience a world-class event from the inside.

Good work and congratulations to Mike Haley, Kari Castle, Ken Hudonjorgensen and Kay Tauscher. Feel proud.

Jeff Gray is a P-3 pilot from Bend, Oregon. He earned his P-2 at Woodrat and now considers his home site to be Pine Mountain, in beautiful Central Oregon (come visit).
RMHPA Vice President
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Re: Rat Race Super Clinic and Rat Race/Sprint

Postby flytm » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:15 pm

Awesome. Aspen PG used to host super-clinics during comps back in the 90s. They were immensely useful and educational. The Rats is the perfect venue to continue this tradition. Don't think about it too long. Just sign up and do it.

My US $.02

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