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Successful Start To Grand Prix

Successful Start To Grand Prix

The New Zealand Community Trust Gliding Grand Prix kicked into action today with the official practice day that saw pilots competing in real race conditions but without any points scoring.

The 260km task took fastest pilot, Ben Flewett of New Zealand 2:13 hours to complete with Sebastian Kawa (Poland) just 30 seconds behind him and third place David Mockler (USA) a further two minutes behind him.

Flewett’s success perfectly illustrates that just one key decision can make the difference between winning and losing in gliding.

“Sebastian, Dave and I had a real break after the first turn point when we caught a strong thermal that propelled us into the wave that in turn took us up to 10,000 feet. I looked down and saw the rest of the field, who had made a different tactical decision, thousands of feet below and was very glad I wasn’t one of them!” said Flewett.

Heading back from the second turn point to the mid-section of the race over Omarama, Flewett reached speeds of up to 300kph having to put the breaks on in order to negotiate the third turn point. After some low-level ridge running he once again found the wave, travelling back from the northern most point of the course at Lake Ohau at 250kph, crossing the finish line back at Omarama just metres above the ground.

Task director Gavin Wills, responsible for setting the course, said it was a revealing race with pilots having to choose whether to use the developing wave and sacrifice time to climb and then travel faster or to run along the ridges. He said that while it was a fairly conservative task it suited the weather conditions.

The challenge for the prestigious Anaro Group Cup and a place in the World Sailplane Grand Prix in 2007 begins tomorrow (Sunday) with gliders launching at approximately 1.30pm (weather permitting). For further information on the Grand Prix, full results and images, visit


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