2009 PKRA Greece at Paros

Today marks the kick off of the world kite-racing event held on the beautiful island of Paros, Greece.

A few years have past since the last PKRA event was hosted in Paros, but this year will prove to be an impressive comeback and perhaps a more familiar destination in the pro tour lineup for racing as well as freestyle in the years to come.

Registration began at 9:00 am this morning under mostly overcast skies and temperatures averaging 21 degrees.  The registration process lasted a little longer than planned in hopes that more female competitors would participate. 

Acting as the new PKRA Press Secretary (Jacqueline d'Entremont), how better to get an up close and personal view of what goes on in the exciting world of kite racing than to actually participate. I nervously signed up for the race in hopes of giving the only registered female a riding companion. Shortly after my inscription four local Greek women registered making a total of 6 female racers and 17 men.
The mandatory riders meeting commenced at 12:00 pm with the first possible start at 1:00 pm.  Riders rushed out on the water with their 9-11m kites, eagerly anticipating the signal to indulge in the nearly perfect wind conditions.

Race director Olaf Van Tol and his crew set a short 7-minute course for Day 1, but promises he has a few magic tricks up his sleeve to set some pretty interesting and challenging courses for the following days.

This was certainly not a challenging day for French racer Bruno Sroka (Cabrinha) who dominated all four races but was closely shadowed by German rider Dirk Hanel (North) whom would nearly overtake Sroka on a number of occasions.  It was a constant neck-to-neck battle between these two very powerful riders. North rider, Pierre Romain (FRA) who finished 4th in the first race of the day, raced his way to the 3rd overall position.

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Wessels Shipping Company

The “Theseus” has become the first cargo ship in the latest series of new builds belonging to the Wessels Shipping Company of Haren/Ems to be equipped with SkySails propulsion.

This towing-kite propulsion system is the first of the latest-generation SkySails-Systems, into whose development were channeled the many important lessons learned during pilot testing aboard the vessels “Beluga SkySails” owned by Beluga Shipping and Wessels’ own “Michael A.”

The “Theseus” is one of three new Rhine class ships being built for Wessels at the Komarno shipyard in Slovakia. The “Theseus” is the same type of ship as the “Michael A.” and is 90 meters long, has a capacity of some 3,700 dwt and a MaK main engine that produces 1,500 kW of power. A 160 m² SkySails propulsion system works to relieve the main engine of the “Theseus” the same way it does on board the “Michael A.”

Final installation and commissioning of the towing-kite propulsion system on the “Theseus” was completed in early August at SkySails’ manufacturing facilities in Wismar. The SkySails-System had previously been tested over a period of one and a half years aboard the 133-meter “Beluga SkySails” and the 90-meter “Michael A.”

“We’ve had some extremely promising results from pilot testing,” said Gerd Wessels, the managing partner of the Wessels Shipping Company based in Haren/Ems, “and with a good wind we achieved up to 8 tons of tractive force on the “Michael A.” using SkySails propulsion.” For comparison: The “Theseus” needs approximately 11 tons of thrust for full cruising speed.

SkySails propulsion has been integrated ideally into the ship’s operations; it required no major effort or expense to be installed onto the vessels.

And, it has been proven that ships remain fully maneuverable while employing the SkySails-System. What’s more, trials have confirmed that present crew strengths are fully adequate for operating the system and that the operational concept works as intended.

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Francis Rogallo

Francis Rogallo, known as “the father of hang gliding,” died on September 1st, in Southern Shores, near Kitty Hawk, the birthplace of aviation. He was 97 years-old.

Rogallo and his wife Gertrude invented a “flexible wing” flier that was the precursor of personal flying machines like the hang glider, paraglider, ultralight aircraft and kiteboards.

He graduated from Stanford with a degree in mechanical engineering and aeronautics.

In 1963, NASA awarded Rogallo the highest cash award to date for his generosity of offering the US government the use of his patents.

He was inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.

On May 11th 1997, the NASA Langley Research Center recognized Rogallo for his many contributions to flight.

Today, members of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association are called "Rogallo" members.

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