Limited Live Tracking in Castelo, Brazil - The Reasons Explained
It all comes down to the complex nature of international transit of goods and the various customs authorities we encounter on our travels.
Having travelled with our Flymaster Lives , quite successfully, to Mexico for two previous events we were not anticipating any sort of problem taking them into the country for a third time - we were wrong. Chris arrived at 05:30 and declared to the customs official at the border that he was carrying 74 Flymaster Lives, showing the UK customs paperwork which was issued when they keft the UK and also a letter from the Paragliding World Cup declaring the total value of the units and a letter from Alas Del Hombre stating that these were to be used as safety devices in the Paragliding World Cup event in Valle de Bravo for the next 12 days. Ulric arrived later with the second case and similar paperwork.
Normally this is sufficient for the officials in any given country to accept the units as a temporary import and we go on our way with a fairly short dely. In Mexico, however, something seems to have changed. All of the units were seized and quite an epic struggle developed to get them released.
This began on registration day with an all day visit to Mexico City airport where a dedicated customs agent spent nearly 8 hours on telephone calls trying to get the units out of the hands of customs. The end of the first day came and went and we returned to Valle de Bravo with no units. Many people got involved, further and further up the chain of command until, after 5 days of argument, we evntually managed to get them released to a company owned by one of the organisers - the condition, however, was that they had to leave Mexico by a customs authorized courier (we were not to be allowed to take them home with us)
With this in mind we decided that the best course of action would be to ship them directly to Castelo, Brazil where they would be waiting for us for the next event.
This proved to be a problem though. Discussions with the Brazilian organisers revelaed that there is a significant difference (to the customs authorities) between bringing our own equipment with us and having it shipped to a Brazilian organisation. If we carry the units ourselves there is no problem but if we ship them to a Brazilian entity then they are considered to be 'imported' and attract taxes, import paperwork and, very likely, big problems when we try to leave.
We decided, in this case, that it would be better to ship them back to the PWCA office in France and then bring them to Brazi with us (a roundabout but workable solution) so the request was made to the Mexicans. What we didn't expect, and nobody seems to be able to give a satisfactory explanation, was that Mexico Customs then took 10 days to authorise the release of our own units - out of the country !!
As a result they are now back in France resting at the PWCA office while we end up running the first event of 2016 without our entire live tracking system.
Fortunately we were able to slip the vehicle trackers away (they didn't seem interested in them - they don't look as expensive as the Lives) so we have 9 F1 units which we are giving to the leading pilots each day. Additionally a lot of our pilots now have SPOT devices and we are able to track these in a limited fashion. This means we have visibility on about 45 pilots in this competition and it, at least, allows us to see the rough spread of the group and some sense of task progress and ETA to goal.
We hope you are enjoying the coverage that we have managed to glue together - the whole system should be back with us at the next event in Italy.