It was touch and go for the Brunei Team competing in the Jempol Paragliding Team in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Not only was it a first experience for the Brunei team to compete in an endurance event but it was a bitter sweet experience as Siti Khadijah had to sit out for the rest of the three day tournament after she got injured during her second day of time trials in the endurance event.
Junaidi Hj Jumat said that it was the first time for them to compete in an endurance challenge, the spot or accurate landing event was cancelled and only the endurance challenge was being competed in.
This had not only put a hole in their strategy but also on every other team that had hoped to score in the accurate landing event. He said that in all the international competitions that was held in Indonesia and Jugra Malaysia, they had only competed in the spot landing event.
Meanwhile Siti Khadijah said that the injury she had received was due to the uneven ground when she had landed. She said that she had accidently stepped into a hole and had fallen on a sharp rock where it had cut her hand deeply.
In paragliding you need your hands to not only steer the glider, but also to erect it prior to takeoff. Hence with her hand bandaged up and she can hardly hold a spoon. She again flew on the last day of the carnival, but again had crash landed due to her earlier injury.
The particular landing area had also caused the injury of a British Paraglider, where his foot was caught on a rock, causing the bone to jut out of his ankle.
The gliding spot in Bahau, is particularly tricky, as the air currents and thermals are unpredictable. In particular when approaching a certain landing area, at times the thermal updraft just would not allow the paraglider to land, and they will be thermalling for over half an hour.
Team captain Hj Mohammad Shafri bin Hj Mohd Salleh said that if nothing else this is a good experience for the team, as not only are they able to hunt for thermals they are also able to soar high and stay in the air longer.
He said that although the conditions in Bahau for the carnival has not been very good, with little or no wind and very little thermal, the team are able to stand their grounds amongst the top parasailing pilots from around the world, who are also finding it difficult to stay in the air for long periods at a time.
He said that during the practice run both Junaidi and Siti had only a short time to get used to the idea of thermaling and finding a good spot for the high lifts. However during the day of the carnival they didn’t manage to get any lift, for two reasons, one was that there were hardly any stable wind for take off, the second was that the thermal would come and go.
Unlike other competitors who had came equipped ready with gliders meant from soaring or cross country, the gliders of Junaidi and Siti’s were not made to soar, but specifically for sport landing. International participants were also frustrated with the turn of events, where most of them had brought equipment and gliders for sport landing and not endurance, or cross country flying.
The participants were only told during the opening briefing that the sport landing competition was cancelled, due to ‘technical’ reasons.
Nevertheless, with the experienced from Bahau, the Brunei team will be more better prepared with any endurance or cross country event, though during this particular competition Brunei didn’t win any places, they had gained invaluable experience in regards to the flying sport discipline.