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Elite Pilots Announced for NZ Gliding Grand Prix


Elite Pilots Announced for New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix

In a world first, the New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix has brought together the sport’s top pilots from around the world to compete head-to-head in one of the fastest and most exciting gliding events ever.

From New Zealand, current overall world champion, John Coutts joins world distance record holder Terry Delore of Christchurch and Ben Flewett of Auckland, who is currently ranked number two in New Zealand. They will take on the best of the rest of the world. Nominated by their National Federations, the international pilots include three former world champions and a multitude of national champions.

Poland’s Sebastian Kawa is currently ranked number one in the world on the IGC pilot rankings, just ahead of John Coutts who sits at second. Kawa was World Champion (Club Class) in 2004 and Junior World Champion in 2003 and also won the 1st World Sailplane Grand Prix in September 2005.

Other world champions attending are Olivier Darroze of France who won the title (World Class) in 2001 and Italy’s current national champion, Giorgio Galetto who held the world title in 1999.

Peter Harvey from the UK is current British Champion, European Champion (Open Class) and British Overseas Champion while David Mockler is the current US National Champion and the USA’s highest rated pilot based on the combined performance rankings over the last three years.

Uli Schwenk of Germany recently won the Viking Glide in Sweden, a pre-cursor to the 2006 World Championships, and Graham Parker will cross the Tasman as one of Australia’s top pilots.

“This is the first time these pilots have competed together as they usually race in different classes,” said Grand Prix director, Peter Newport. “The Grand Prix will see them all flying Standard Class. These planes are the ‘Ferraris’ of gliding and are highly maneuverable with a wingspan of just 15m and carry three very sophisticated computer systems on board. The general public will be astounded as they watch these elite pilots push themselves and their aircraft to their limits, racing head-to-head at speeds of up to 300kph, at times just metres above the ground.”

The New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix takes place from 21-29 January in Omarama with the final three days of the event open to the public. A giant outdoor screen, fed by the most advanced TV graphics and live helicopter filming ever seen, together with live commentary, will keep crowds in the thick of the of the action, creating a brand new adrenalin-charged spectator event set to change the face of competitive gliding.

For further information and tickets, visit


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