Bruce Goldsmith needs little introduction in the world of free flight, having been world champion in both hang gliding and paragliding to name but a few of a long lists of accolades.
He has been designing paragliders for the last 27 years for the likes of Airwave, Ozone and Advance, and now runs his own ever growing business Bruce Goldsmith Design. Having doubled in size every year since its inception in 2012, BGD now employs 14 full and part time staff and sells to 103 countries worldwide.
I caught up with Bruce at St Hilaire to find out more about existing and future products in the BGD range.
Malin - Hi Bruce, as the season draws to an end can you tell me how 2016 has been for you?
Bruce - 2016 has been a very busy year with the cure EN C glider. Sales are very strong and we have been getting extremely good feedback, especially that it's very accessible. We were worried that it was quite a level above the Tala but it's actually not. People that have been flying the Tala and have switched to the Cure have said it is just as safe.
M - I certainly found that it didn't feel as high an aspect ratio as it is, it felt really manageable.
B - Also the cure is already lightweight glider and right now I'm working on a lighter one, which will be an x-alps glider for people who really want the extremely light stuff. We will be using the thinner lines on that as well to maximise the performance for a three liner.
M - I have to say the prototype that I saw with the glued seams at the front looked very smart, with a much flatter seam, do you think that design will make it in to production?
B - Yes the seams where lapped seams and we are working on that concept, it looks much cleaner.
M - Do you think that technology it will cross over in to your other gliders then?
B - Yes I think so.
M - Great, I liked it was a really nice detail.
B - We have also released the Base light in the last 3 months and we are getting really good feedback on it.
M - Does it fly like the base?
B - Yes, aside from it being lighter, it has a bit more performance, has lighter brake pressure and is a bit more nimble. It's no more work to fly in the air.
M - Is it aimed at hike and fly or is it durable enough to use as your main wing?
B - Yeah you can use it as your main wing no problem, it has thinner lines than the base so has more performance, unsheathed on the top and middle and sheathed on the bottom. It also has standard risers.
M - What else are you working on?
B - So the other project we are working on at the moment has been the Diva two liner EN-D prototype, I flew the glider in the PWC in St Andre, when you where there as well I think. It has very good feeling on the glider, and launch characteristics are very good. That is why it has done so well at the glide angle competition here as the St Hilaire festival because launch is super important at the glide angle competition. During the world cup I felt that it wasn't quite up with the Enzo 2, so I'll be working more on the performance and not releasing it as it is at the moment. Ideally I would like an EN-D on that glider rather than CCC, because I feel that the safety should be good enough for it to be a certifiable glider.
M - Was it the top speed or the glide angle you were not happy with?
B - The glide at speed and the general penetration against headwind when flying in strong conditions. For the next proto we will further optimise the lines and clean up the sail by sorting some structural issues that have caused creases in this prototype. I will then make another one addressing those issues but keeping it fairly close to this prototype.
M - Well I was impressed with it yesterday in the glide competition, it looked like it already had a very good glide. Will it be a glider for 2017?
B - Yes the Diva will be for 2017. I'm also working on a small Duel 37m2, it's just a small version of the Duel but I want to make it really nimble with light handling and we will also do a light version. The current Duel is a 40m2. We have had a lightweight version of the Duel 40 for about 18 months now, and the sales have just started picking up again in the last 3 months, it's like the French have just found out about it. We have got a lot of professional pilots buying the light version of the glider, which is quite surprising but they prefer it.
M - Is that because of better launch characteristics with it being lighter?
B - Yes it's easier launch and it's also got better performance with thinner lines and it's also a bit more nimble.
M - How much lighter is it?
B - The standard is just over 7kgs and the light is just over 6, saving a kilo.
M - How are the professional pilots finding the durability of the light version?
B -We have kept the heavier cloth on the leading edge which is the most sensitive part, but we have found the duel is really coming in to its own now. It seems like the average life of a duel is 1000 flights, which is a lot. Most tandems start to struggle after 500, good ones can go 600-700 flights and we are getting to 1000 which we are really happy about. I think it's the CCB (cord cut billow) on the leading edge as it spreads the load and reduces the stress, which is what makes the gliders go out of shape and stop flying properly.
M - And that will be true for all of your gliders as the all have CCB.
B - I actually think that is the main advantage of CCB rather than just performance improvement, the cloth is made to the inflated shape rather than a flat panel like a traditional glider so helps spread the load and reduce stress.
M - What else is in the pipe line for BGD?
B - We are working on a new Luna, it a Paramotor wing, and also the Zest which is an acro glider. We actually haven't released any Zest's but we now have so many pilots working for BGD who fly acro that I'm really just making it for all my friends. The reason we haven't released it to the general public yet is that it hasn't been doing the infinity tumble well, but when it does we will release it. It does all the other manoeuvres really nicely.
M - So you wouldn't release it as a freestyle wing then?
B - No that is not the idea, it will be a full blown acro wing.
M - Ok great, it sounds like you have some exciting stuff in the pipe line, thank you Bruce and all the best for 2017!
In the weeks before the interview Bruce kindly lent me a Cure to fly a Vol-biv route through the Alps but the weather seriously hampered plans. I managed a couple of hours on it before returning it, so did not have enough time to get to know it for a full review, but one thing did jump out at me straight away. The polar curve seemed very flat with a very useable and efficient top speed, which certainly seems to be reflected in the latest string of competition results.
Another thing that struck me about BGD is the small attention to detail. From the lapped seams and the unique magnet clipped brake poppers, to possibly the greatest invention since sliced bread, an anti-snag zip which is fitted to all their concertina bags (removing the need to place your finger in front of the zip) every detail seems to have been well thought out. To test fly a BGD glider please contact your local dealer.