The 2009 World Hang Gliding Championship was held between June 21st and July 4th at Laragne, France until July 2nd. The USA team consists of Jeff O’Brien, Dustin Martin, Davis Straub, Jeff Shapiro, and Zac Majors. Meet the 2009 World Hang Gliding Team.
This story has been corrected
The gold medal goes to Alessandro Ploner. Jon Durand of Australia took second place and the silver medal. Thomas Weissenberger of Australia took third place.
In the overall team standings, Italy took the Gold medal followed by Austria and France. Brazil took fourth and the USA team finished in sixth place out of 32 teams.
The last task in this competition, 95 miles, was won by Nene Rotor of Brazil. Dustin Martin and Zac Majors made goal in 6th and 8th position respectively.
Jon Durand of Australia was first to goal in this 66 mile task with only 19 pilots making goal. American Dustin Martin was the only American across the line in 14th place, 18 minutes behind the leader.
Task 6 was cancelled before start due to storm development.
Task 5 was stopped during flight due to unfavorable weather. Pilots were scored up to a point of time when the task was stopped. Those that took an earlier start gate scored higher than those who opted for the later start gates.
The stop in the task caused a shuffle in the individual leaders. The current leader before task 5, Christian Ciech, who opted for a later start gate tumbled from 1st to 5th, leaving it open for Manfred Ruhmer to take over the leaderboard. Alessandro Ploner from Italy moves up from 3rd to 2nd. The current world champion, Attila Bertok, slipped into third place just 37 points ahead of American Zac Majors who is in 4th.
If Zac Majors can fly the right path, a medal opportunity is within his reach.
The USA team drops to 5th place after the 5th task.
Task 4 has been cancelled due to unfavorable weather.
Jeff O’Brien appealed the decision of the field judges to give him a zero for the entire task yesterday. All is not lost as the appeal allowed Jeff to gain points up to the location where he entered the ‘No Fly Zone’. Under course rules, when entering the No Fly Zone, the pilot is suppose to immediately land and gain points up to that location but according to his track log, Jeff continued flying. Jeff argued that due to local weather conditions he was unable to land because of an updraft. By winning the appeal Jeff’s reinstated points works out to 424. This moves the USA team up to 4th position overall with Jeff O’Briens overall individual ranking climbing to 24th.
In a surprising twist, Jeff O’Brien was caught in a ‘No Fly Zone’ and received a zero for the day.
USA team member finishes for task 3: Zac Majors (3rd), Dustin Martin (30th), Davis Straub (70th), Jeff Shapiro (92nd) and Jeff O’Brien (120th).
The USA Team drops to 5th place overall in the team competition.
Individual USA team member standings after task 3: Zac Majors (4th), Dustin Martin (17th), Jeff O’Brien (51st), Jeff Shapiro (86th), and Davis Straub (88th).
Task 2 was won by three times World Hang Gliding Champion Manfred Ruhmer of Austria. Manfred’s win pulls the Austrian Team into 2nd place behind the Italians. The USA Team drops to third place overall.
Jeff O’Brien on his Wills Wing “Tee Two See”set a quick pace that the others couldn’t keep, arriving 8 minutes earlier than the next pilot. His total flight time was just over five hours. Two others from the USA team made goal today including Zac Majors (21st) and Dustin Martin (23rd). A total of 52 of 118 pilots made goal today during high winds in the landing zone. The USA Team finished in 2nd place overall behind the Italians. Read Jeff’s blog about winning Task 1.
The last time an American pilot won a Class 1 task in the World Championship was back in 1993 when the four times US National Hang Gliding Champion, Chris Arai, won two tasks. Chris eventually ended up in 2nd place with fellow American Mark Gibson taking 3rd in the competition. The American team took the Gold Medal in the team competition.
There has never been a Class 1 individual American World Hang Gliding Champion to date.
All photos are courtesy off Ed Ewing.