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NZ Gliding: Home Win As Grand Prix Decided

29/1/06

NZ Gliding: Home Win As Grand Prix Decided

Ben Flewett of New Zealand was today announced as the first New Zealand Community Trust Gliding Grand Prix champion and winner of the Anaro Group Cup. Flewett is also the first qualifier for the World Sailplane Grand Prix in 2007 and takes home a cheque for $10,000.

Flewett was one of the outsiders in the competition, being the only pilot never to have held either a world or national champion title. He beat closest rival, Giorgio Galetto (ITA) by four points with an overall score of 39. Current world number one, Sebastian Kawa (POL), came third with 32 points.

Today’s final day of racing was cancelled, as soaring conditions were not adequate for international racing standards. The overall results were decided on the six previous days’ racing. In place of points racing, the pilots gave today’s crowds a high-speed display of match racing, competing five at a time over a short course in a series of closely-run contests won by John Coutts and Ben Flewett.

“Aviation and television history was made in Omarama this week,” said Grand Prix director, Peter Newport. “We have created an exciting new spectator sport, the repercussions of which will filter out around the world. I firmly believe if this weekend’s coverage is anything to go by, people will soon be glued to their television screens following one the world’s fastest, most skilled and compelling sports.”

The technology developed for the Grand Prix allowed spectators to follow an entire gliding race for the first time on a giant, watching the pilots in the cockpits, following their progress along remote mountain ridges both from air-to-air helicopter footage and hi-tech 3D graphics devised by Animation Research of America’s Cup fame.

While today marks the end of the New Zealand Community Trust Grand Prix, work starts almost immediately on the bid for the World Sailplane Grand Prix that, if successful, will be held in Omarama in 2007.

ENDS

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