Gin Gliders at the Coupe Icare 2017
We were lucky enough to join Gin Seok Song and Michael Sigel at the Coupe Icare for a very insightful discussion of the new designs being produced by Gin Gliders.
Over the challenge of the loss of their factory in North Korea, Gin Gliders are now all systems go with new products for 2017-2018. As well as discussing new products, Gin is celebrating his 40 year anniversary as a free flying pilot since he began hang gliding, so has a very good feel for what the pilot needs. We took the opportunity to ask him some wider questions about the paragliding scene and the development of Gin gliders.
Carlo was intrigued to find out where Gin gets his inspiration after 30 years of designing wings. The question brought out a slightly a surprising answer. Gin said:
‘Sometimes of course I have a problem to find inspiration but I go to art galleries to look at the paintings - but nobody knows I go there! I see paintings and colours and it gives pieces of the puzzle. It can be difficult to find the starting point, this gives me one.’
In terms of the direction Gin are taking with their new wings, there is a clear and new found emphasis coming from the Korean manufacturer:
‘People are talking a lot about performance, there is a limit of increase on performance, we are not working for performance but aiming for ease of use, focusing on how easy you can handle it, making it more forgiving. The Bolero 6 is like that, as is the Explorer.’
‘We are very impressed the Explorer. Nancy flies it as her main XC wing and loves it!’ (read Nancy's review of the Gin Explorer)
‘Yes, the Sprint Evo changed the game for me when that came out, and now with the Explorer I really have found the best blend of handling and performance for me.’
Gangster 2 - freestyle glider
- Gin Gangster 2 photo by Jerome Maupoint
Coming in 20 and 22 sizes this is an EN C Freestyle glider. The intention with this wing is to bring acro manoeuvres within the reach of more pilots both through making the handling more user friendly and also by giving it good thermaling capabilities, and thus removing the need for pilots to be at an acro friendly site to get in the airtime required to perfect moves.
It has more brake pressure than the 1, it is a 4 riser design to give a better deep stall and Gin says it will SAT and Helico very well .
Gin: "Makeover if a legendary Freestyle wing. The Gangster 2 performs all basic acrobatic manoeuvres, and can also be used for soaring and thermaling sessions."
We say: Another interesting design for aspiring acro pilots!
Expected release date to be confirmed.
Griffin d - mini wing
More durable version of the Griffin, with change of materials only. Lower price than the Griffin but without certification.
Gin: "The Griffin d is the same glider as the Griffin, but is made with the durable Dominico 30D fabric. For pilots flying in tougher terrain."
Expected end of October / early November.
Osprey - small tandem glider
Certified EN B for all up weights between 100-210 kg, the Osprey is a small tandem wing at only 34 m2. It’s aimed at pilots who fly with light passengers or in stronger winds. It was conceived to meet the demands of professional tandem pilots, but its accessibility and versatility mean that it appeals equally to leisure pilots. It’s also certified as a solo wing, offering something for Vikings and power-lifters who might be feeling a bit let down by common manufacturer sizing. Available to order now.
Bolero 6 - entry-level glider
The new entry-level paraglider, for schooling to first XC’s and beyond. The Gin BOLERO 6 (EN A) features the 2nd generation EPT technology which improves take-off behaviour, stability and handling. GIN believes it’s the best Bolero yet! With only 3 risers, 3 lines spanwise, and trailing edge mini-ribs, the performance is likely to be good for its class (EN A / First wing). Colour-coded lines for easy identification, split A risers and clear labelling for big ears and b-stall make the BOLERO 6 simple to manage. Strong and durable materials have been used to make sure this wing is built to last. The wing is certified EN A in 6 sizes and is available to order.
Bonanza 2 - performance glider
Gin's new EN C (Sports class) wing is in development, due out in 2018!!!
We asked: ‘Where will it be pitched, what sort of pilot are you aiming for?’ Clearly Gin have put a lot of thought into this question. Again and perhaps to place some clear water behind them after the Carrera ‘too hot for the class’ debate, ease of use is one of the main design brief aspects.
‘With the advent of 2 liners, the CCC class, and the breadth of certification, the EN rating category isn’t very helpful to decide who a wing is aimed at.’
After the Carrera experience, Gin will be playing by the same rules as everyone else for this one, and certifying their new C as a C.
‘If they give me B rating for this wing I will increase the speed range by 10 cm!’
Much emphasis is being put into the choice of lines, with different materials and weights being used for the A, B and C line sets.
‘I am working a lot with the lines. When you use Kevlar lines many people only think about drag, but the lines are really moving. You have to choose the right lines for each section, which I have done with the Explorer. It is not only the profile of the wing, each line has a different load and different character. It is a lot of work (to try out so many permutations) as you can only do it by testing. Because of the amount of testing and the effort put into it, with the Explorer I was very happy to finish the design as it is, perhaps more than any other wing in my 25 years.’
The main concern is to make stable wings.
‘It will have performance for sure. For cross country, but at the same time I am really focusing on how easy it is too fly, when you go cross country you are likely to meet strong wind or turbulence, so the concept is simple.’
‘The Bonanza has been a year in development, the hardest part has been in deciding where to find the balance.’
Michael Sigel added:
‘We have prototypes which have had good performance, and prototypes which have had really good handling, but not both. We got a call from Idris yesterday saying the latest prototype is a really good balance, so we think we could be there.’
With Gin’s long term contribution to the sport and his track record of creating game changing wings we’re certainly looking forward to trying this one.
Atlas 2 - intermediate glider
Gin explained that his new protege, Idris Birch (the Sorcerer's Apprentice) is working on the new version of the hugely popular 'easy' B (Progression class) wing, but the original Atlas is proving hard to improve on! Definitely aimed at the lower part of the EN B range, the design brief is to keep the characteristics of the new glider close to the current Atlas, and make it even better!
The Bonanza 2 and Atlas 2 are still 'works in progress' so there is no firm release date for these as yet. The aim is to release them 'when they're good and ready', hopefully some time in the first half 2018 - but nothing is confirmed as yet.
Nano 4 - speedriding glider
Gin: "The Nano 4 is the reference speed riding wing, now updated with a new profile, internal structure and line configuration. The #13.5 is suitable for school use; the #9 is for experts only."
Expected release date to be confirmed.
Carve - freestyle/slalom competition PPG wing
Gin: "If you're pushing the limits in freestyle or slalom competition, you need a dynamic wing that will help you unlock your full potential whilst always reacting in a precise and predictable way."
Expected release date to be confirmed.
Genie Race 4 - race harness
The new competition harness took centre stage on the Gin stand. It also commanded quite a lot of audible attention on account of the hoover connected to the front ram air scoop system, demonstrating the new system for inflating the rear aerodynamic airbag which is an update to the signature Gin ‘Aerocone Inflatable Fairing’ (AIF).
This, plus it’s stand out feature of a clear plastic windscreen shrouding the cockpit set it apart from the crowd.
The Genie Race 4 is another product that has been a year in development, with the result being a remodelled profile, and more stable and supportive harness. The AIF is now more integrated with helmet. The Koroyd foam back protector is new, only 9 cm thick for minimal profile, equals less drag, but giving better protection than the older, thicker version.
It has a space for a second reserve which can also be used for additional ballast. It’s another harness with an ABS system providing additional cross bracing for stability. Attention has also been given to ease of ingress and running on launch. It has a plethora of buckles, which clearly work as during Carlo’s initial impression he found the seating position to be very well supported and comfortable around the hips.
Gin: "The Genie Race 4 features radical performance innovations designed to give competitive pilots the edge."
It has some features carried over from it's predecessor:
- G-chute pocket (for "Anti-G" type drag chute)
- large back pocket with pouches and routing for a hydration system (Camelbak) and radio, plus a zipper pocket for secure storage of small items
- under seat pocket
- SPOT/instrument pocket on shoulder strap
- double-bladed hook knife can even cut webbing
- 2 zipped side pockets
- flight deck pocket
- ballast spout
- Carbon fibre seat plate and footplate
- 3 step speed bar
The Genie Race 4 will be EN + LTF certified, coming in 4 sizes (XS-L), weighing from 7.6-8.5 kg. Price to be confirmed but, with high manufacturing costs, it's going to be expensive!
The first batch is expected to be ready around the end of November.
Yeti Convertible 2 - lightweight reversible harness/rucksack
Feedback from the previous version was to keep it as it is. However of course that didn’t stop Gin making a few tweaks here and there: The rucksack compresses better to keep it nice and rigid whilst carrying, it comes with loops on the outside for accessories plus there is also a new compression bag to compress the wing tightly and easily.
Gin: "The Yeti Convertible is a lightweight reversible harness. It is ideal for hike & fly, para-alpinism, travel and soaring. The rucksack features optimised load distribution, and the optional airbag features a rescue compartment."
The Yeti Convertible 2 will come in one size. The harness weighs 1.48 kg. The optional airbag with integrated underseat reserve container weighs 0.43 kg. EN+LTF certified.
Expected end of October / early November.
G-Lite - budget PDA reserve
Replacing the popular One-G, the new G-Lite is lighter and more compact.
Gin: "The G-Lite is based on the best-selling One-G with new lightweight material that drastically reduces the packing weight and volume."
The G-Lite will come in two sizes, 32 and 39, and is expected to be in stock around the end of October / early November, with a slightly higher price than it's predecessor due to higher production costs.
Concertina Compress Bag - lightweight concertina bag
Great design of this new concertina packing bag has proved a big hit - so much so that Gin quickly sold out completely! More stock coming end of October.
Gin: "For compact packing of lightweight gliders. Ideal for hike & fly and travel. Sizes: 2.7m, 3m. Weight: 200g"
Just one more question!
We posed one last question for Gin before ending the interview:
Flybubble: ‘Where did the Gin logo come from?’
Gin: ‘From my name in Chinese characters!’
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