Had a pretty intense and enjoyable weekend doing a paragliding SIV course with Dilan Benedetti at Lake Berryessa in Sonoma. Superb conditions and great instruction helped ease the intensity of the whole thing.
For those that don't know, SIV is French for Simulation d'Incident en Vol but translates as "what to do when it all goes horribly wrong!" We tow up over the lake behind a boat to about 2,500' and then go through drills to simulate worst case scenarios. Dilan coaches us in a very cool and calm manner (most of the time) over the radio and, if all goes well, we fly away unscathed. If not, then we throw our reserve parachute and land in the water where the boat collects us. Thankfully nobody threw their reserve in more than 60 flights that weekend!
I have to say, I feel so much safer and aware of my wing and what it is doing and can be doing at any point. I've also realized that modern paragliders are incredible flying machines and most of the time the easiest way to solve a problem is to give subtle inputs and just let the paraglider fly, trying to not over control it.
For any of my paragliding friends who haven't done an SIV, I strongly recommend it as an essential part of your training and experience. For those that have done it, it never hurts to do it again! Come join me in late July when I return to Lake Berryessa to try to burn all of this into my muscle memory.