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Nov 7

Written by: Dustin Martin
11/7/2009 12:32 AM 

Here she is:

I went with a slightly different approach to Canoa this year - instead of just tweaking and polishing, which I also did - I headed out to Orange County and worked alongside Steve Pearson in an effort to incorporate some small ideas from last year's winning wing into this year's glider on the sail table. For my part, I only refined the existing air seals from last year and added some arm fairings to my rotor harness. Steve, however, had some big plans with new exotic sail materials, batten density experiments, and some general clean-up of the current T2 sailcut.

Some of these were already incorporated in the glider that Jeff Shapiro flew in Canoa, the rest were put into action on my wing. Jeff O'Brien came on a stock 144 produced earlier in the year, so the playground was ripe for objective performance comparisons.

Both Shapiro's and my glider seemed to handle just a touch too well to have real glide performance. That would be the first misconception shattered on the first practice day in Canoa....

Kraig Coomber came sporting Moyes' latest offering, the same wing he won this year's Santa Cruz Flats on. I was nervous at the very least. Some rough wing loading chatter over shots of tequila the first night confirmed we were all very close in wing loading, with OB perhaps a bit higher with his lead diving vest. It would come down to raw glide at the course speed range, which is historically 55-90kph. I was confident but on my toes.

Day one and a wrench was tossed in the spokes: we would fly a course never before flown by any of us, and no doubt a course intensely practiced by Raul and company in the months preceding our arrival. Always a pleasure to see how their gears turn down there! After a little cloud play, the start time approached and after a furious dive to the first set of ridges south of the river, I found myself in pole position with Shapiro and OB right in line behind me. Kraig was nowhere to be seen and I smiled as I realized the fastest wingmen were with me. We flew a clean course finishing 1,2,3 and later I hung around at the finish line to time Kraig's finish. We had him by a minute plus. Day one Wills.

Day two and the final race day saw more murky cloud play with the same furious approach to the compression but this time Kraig was in hot pursuit while I gained the lead again. The wingmen were on his tail and our positions wouldn't change until near the last turnpoint where Kraig pushed harder than I thought wise out over town and I held back about 50 yards behind him. I resolved to snag the pylon cleaner than he would and with a little luck I pulled a cleaner turn and took the lead into the final 7km which would be impossible for him to reel back in. The big question was if OB's solid close third behind Kraig would make up for his gap on the first day. None of us knew until the downloading was finished, but the shots were passed around when we learned it was Team Wills 1 - 2 - 3 baby!

The really satisfying feeling was knowing that the new glider development was going in the right direction. Shapiro's and then my new glider handled progressively better and better than their predecessors and the performance likewise incrementally improved with each proto. My wing was truly a pleasure to fly all around.

Despite our rivalry, it was a real pleasure having the Moyes boys join us for such a sweet event. With some team flying, earlier in the week in Guayaquil Kraig and I managed to pull off the longest flights in Ecuador's history launching in the Guayaquil and ending up across state lines in Manabi in a tight farming valley after several hours and a final glide through an epic convergence. Etched in my mind forever for sure.

Here we go up the new road at Guayaquil's newest foot launch site 10 minutes from downtown..

And the man with the plan, spark behind the new force of free flight vs desperation in the slums, seen here warming his nipples...

Here is the light you can see in one of Guayquil's poorer areas...

Deeper inside, I found one man's pride and joy being constructed stick by stick and it hit hard. Each of us eventually had our turning point, for whatever reason this was mine. That is not grass, it is water...

Driving directly from there to town on our way to fly, we were introspecting a bit...

I won't dwell on it, because the wheels are in motion. I would say we are all more appreciative for it though. It was time to look forward...

Rest and relaxation awaited in Canoa...

Here are a few shots from James Byrd's school in Canoa...

The highlight of my year is here. Once again, I can't wait until 2011, but I doubt it will be that long before I'm back again.


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