I’ve now had about 30 hours on my Sigma 9 29 (all up 112kg + 5kg ballast for the comp) in a mix of boisterous mountain air (Grindelwald and Gemona mountains), smooth air (Gemona flatlands), and weak thermals (above Interlaken) so feel I’m ready to post my thoughts.
I think the main thing I’ve come away with is that it really does have fantastic usable performance. On the last task in Gemona I made the mistake of going well into the first turnpoint cylinder to top up before heading back over the valley and along the ridge from where we’d just come, and I lost a lot of places doing that. However I must have overtaken at least twenty gliders including Ice Peak 7 pros and Enzos because I felt comfortable using pretty much full bar whereas they were understandably more reticent about hammering it along the ridge. And I wasn’t losing out on glide either. So usable performance on bar is very impressive indeed. On one occasion in the flats I had an asymmetric collapse on full bar whilst taking photos and consequently only had my hand on one brake so consequently I had to let it recover by itself whilst I fumbled for the right brake. It turned, dived and re-inflated in about the time I said “Oh shit!” to myself. I held the turn for 360 deg and carried on having lost 10-20m I guess. Nice! I did have another asymmetric collapse whilst going along the ridge at 80% bar (with my hands on the brakes this time ) and it turned 45 deg, dived maybe 45 deg, re-inflated and I carried on without the full 360 this time. No drama at all.
Bar pressure is lighter than the S8 and easy to use all day long. I held on to the C risers whilst on bar and would make small alterations of course using them, but because of the amazing pitch stability of the glider I didn’t have to work them to keep the glider level. I would tend to keep half bar on whilst going into a thermal then back off when the glider pitched forward so as to try to keep it level above me as much as possible. If I could see another glider in front of me pitching back in a thermal I would ease off a bit so that I could accelerate into it to stop the pitch back.
On glides against IP6/7/7P Enzos / M6s flying at the same speed as me in smoother air when I was almost pulley to pulley (I had to use both feet in the second step to get overlapping pulleys) our glide angles were very similar and I certainly didn’t feel I lost out. Obviously when they go to full bar they pull ahead as their top speed is undoubtedly faster, but often we’d end up at the same place once they’d found a climb.
Thermalling is a delight – the brake pressure is lighter than the S8 and it turns very precisely and directly – add another couple of inches of brake and it responds immediately and so is great for re-centering in a thermal.
Launching with the inside As and Cs is very easy – it inflates from the centre and because it’s .75kg lighter than the S8 it comes up very easily.
Finally construction – as you’d expect from Advance, construction is of a very high quality – see the detail of the sticks on the leading edge in the photo below…
I didn’t fly much against other Sports Class wings as to be honest (and I hope I don’t sound big-headed) I was up with the lead and second gaggle in most tasks which were obviously comprised of mainly D wings. I came 33rd overall and 3rd in Sports Class behind two mates who are both very good pilots (flying Trango XC2 and Delta 2).
Have a look at a video review made by fellow XC Serial Team mate Thomas Stivanello:
Overall I think it is a really nice glider – safe but with great performance and handling, and I think Advance will sell a ton of them. I’m looking forward to flying it in typical UK XC conditions, hopefully this weekend.