The Auckland Regional Paragliding Competition was a ‘go’ last weekend. Comp organiser Johnny Hopper had arranged for it to be FAI Cat 2 approved (something normally only done for the PG Open in NZ) and so was very keen to see pilots scoring points on the international stage for this.

We had a great turnout, with 29 pilots registered over the 2 days; a combination of old hands & many who were dipping their toes into the competition scene for the first time.

With a light northerly on Saturday morning, we headed to Dills. Jeff & Reuben jumped in the air quickly to give it a bit of a test. They stayed up, so we thought we could be on to something. The boys top landed, and we got down to business. The task committee of Jeff, Cameron and Johnny decided we would launch from Dills, then head south to a new waypoint, JnK House.

Reubs was the first to launch, and when he started to get high, another group of pilots decided to join him. It was not to last, though. After a couple of hours of ridge soaring, it was clear that the day was not going to switch on for us. Everyone in the air top landed, and we made a call to stop the task so we could get on with Johnny’s sausage sizzle.

Sunday conditions were similar, so we agreed to meet directly on launch at Dills. The task was the same – head south to JnK House. Again, no one was able to get up and away, but had a very social time soaring the ridge. The bomb-out saw a fair bit of action as well. Eventually we had a back wind, and felt a few drops of rain from those dark clouds we’d been watching in the distance. Time to pack up & call it a fizzle. Jeff's face in the photo says it all. (Photo courtesy of Rodger Kerr.)

Spot prize went to Reuben for the longest flight. For all his efforts, he earned 12 free range eggs from JnK House. Delicious.

 Great organisation, Johnny. Next time let’s hope for better conditions.


Fashioned from only the finest Chinese metals, this new Auckland Regional Paragliding Competition trophy will be awarded to the winner of each competition.

The names of the winners will be engraved on the back for posterity.


Saturday saw us in the air again!

Very happy to get another successful task at Treble Cone. This one was similar to Task 1: down to Shania Spur, back to Crash Ridge, over to Glendhu Hill, back up to Rocky Hill, down to Mid Triangle & back to the bomb out.

No one made goal; Middy was the task winner, with Russell in close second.

We raced over to Luggate for our celebration dinner & the awards. As we suspected, the competition wasn't valid for the purposes of selecting the NZ National Champion & NZ Women's Champion as we didn't have a high enough total task value, so we reverted to the National Ladder to determine those winners.

Well, it turns out that even if the weather in NZ can be unreliable and inconsistent, we can always rely on Grant Middendorf & Eva Keim to be on form.

Middy was the competition winner as well as being top of the Ladder - which makes him NZ National Champion for 2015.
Eva was the top female in both the comp & ladder, so she takes home the title of NZ Women's Champion.

Congratulations to them both - well & truly champs!

Overall results are here.

Good work by the Task Committee of Mark, Louis & Jeff in working with what the weather handed them (it wasn't much, believe me); Tim for taking care of launch, Johnny for scoring, Jan for check-in, Pete for sponsorship & prizes, Bryan, Itai & Louis for their talks, Kris for the photos, and of course Derek for organising the competition.

Anyone else keen for next year? Get your bids in to the Paragliding Competition Committee!


Day 7:

Forecast light SE winds. Inversion and mostly blue made a difficult start to the day but once pilots were 50 -70km out cu's were forming and later streets were at 3000m 100 and 200 plus km flights again.

I bombed after 10km.

Day 8 final day:

Similar conditions to yesterday a couple of pilots launched on east launch before the wind changed to the SW then W.

Borah shuffle had everyone moving to west launch, tricky conditions to start with thick inversion and cu's starting at Barraba and Houghton valley.

Lots of pilots down at Tapoly/Barraba. 100 and 200km plus flights again.

I did a PB of 85km landing short of Bingara.

120 pilots attended. 50 PBs, good flying 7 out of 8 days, just under 30,000km flown.

What a great event!

Leonardo Flights Friday
Leonardo Flights Saturday

Joe Ward


It seemed there was a chance we would fly.

The regular 9:30 briefing was postponed to 11am so we would have a better idea of what was possible.

The bad news came in shortly after 11 - not taskable.

It did look like we might still be able to get our feet off the ground, so a few keen beans headed over to Treble Cone to have a look.

More bad news. It was immediately clear that safe flying was not an option.

Oh well, get back in to Wanaka to prepare for tonight's talk - Louis Tapper gave a great presentation on planning and preparation for his kite surfing trip (2000km along the coast of Brazil!), and how it applies to paragliding.

Peter Groves also talked about the preparation for his big flight to Mt Cook last year. Actually he sort of talked about how he HADN'T prepared for it because it didn't look like it would be a big day.

One of his key messages was to never write a day off!

It certainly paid off for him that day; Leonardo link here: Pete Groves to Mt Cook.


Great looking day with SE forecast.

Two pilots, Jason and Che have done 355km, many 100km+ and 200km+ flights and PBs still a lot of pilots to be retrieved and report distances.

I did a PB of 58km today landing north of Boggabri.

Yesterday there were 6 x 200+ km and 10 x 100+ km flights.

Forecast for tomorrow is good :-)

Leonardo Flights

Yesterday saw...

5 flights of over 300km
13 flights of over 200km
8 flights of over 100km
17 personal bests
New Australian foot launched record
Manilla site record
8 to 8.5 hour flights
Cloud streets at 3000m
The 2 pilots who flew 355km were on EN C wings
An EN A wing did 114km

Joe Ward


Come on Mother Nature, throw us a bone!!!

Thursday was another blowout, so pilots took advantage of the other exciting activities around Wanaka - mountain biking, tramping, motor biking.

In the evening, Itai Almog gave a talk about some of the considerations in selecting the right reserve for your size, wing and harness. Great insight in there.

I met up with the competition Technical Delegate, Johnny Hopper, for a chat about scoring and competition validity.

I zoned out when he started getting into the formulae for scoring - it's pretty complex stuff with loads of variables.

But he left me with an interesting titbit – the PG Open is only valid (for the purpose of selecting the NZ champion) if we get at least 2000 points of task value.

Task 1 was worth 407 points (that’s what Hugo, the winner, scored). So we need at least 1593 points over the remaining tasks in order to determine a new NZ champion – otherwise it’s determined based on the National Ladder.

It’s still possible, but we’re going to need some help from the weather on Friday and Saturday to get big tasks in!

For more photos, click here to have a look at Kris Ericksen's PG Open Album.


Day 4 -

No XC flying due to strong winds ... many pilots went up for a smooth evening flight when the wind eased.

Day 5 -

Forecast light SE increasing, inversion at around 1800m, it was very busy around launch with inversions at 1500m and 1900m mostly blue with cumulus further out.

There were good distances flown up to 223km, with 6 pilots getting 200km+. Several 100km flights and lots of personal bests. Described by many as a difficult day early on.

I launched and left the hill early at 1500m getting a 20km flight.

Leonardo Flights

Joe Ward


I thought that a few pilots heading home early would be enough to trigger the weather gods to shine down on Wanaka.

Sadly not. Wednesday is wet and windy. 

Anyone have spare gear for kitesurfing?! 


Although it turned out we couldn’t get a task in on Tuesday, it was a productive day.

The Paragliding Competition Committee elections were held, with Cameron Kennedy elected to join Tim Brown & Johnny Hopper on the PCC.

The pilots then met at Treble Cone to check whether conditions were viable. It turned out to be too strong, so Sam Bartholomew, who has been running a paragliding-specific first aid course with a group of pilots, led the group in a few accident scenarios.

It was a great exercise for both the people doing the course, who acted as team leaders for the incident, and the wider pilot group. Feedback is that it was quite realistic (and remarkable, all the pilots in the scenario had very similar injuries!)

I hope all the distributors in NZ have plenty of light-weight equipment in stock, because after Bryan Moore’s talk last night, pilots are really fired up about hike and fly and vol-biv.

Bryan spoke a bit about preparing for vol-biv, and did a show and tell of a few of his flights, including several breath-taking photos.

Nick Neynens also talked through some of his recent flights in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan & France.

Hearing about these flights is really encouraging and a few pilots have reported that it's given them confidence to give hike and fly a go themselves. 


Forecast of strong SE/E wind with possible thunderstorms, potential for a 200-300km day.

Pilots started launching at 11am in 20kph gusting 30kph on east launch, lots of pilots got away but overdevelopment/thunderstorms ended the day after a few hours.

A couple of pilots reported landing backwards.

1800 to 2000m base ... many 50 to 90km flights out towards Boggabri and Narrabri.

Leonardo Flights

Joe Ward


On Sunday the task committee took us to Coronet Peak, deemed our best chance of getting a task in.

After waiting in the rain at the Flight Park, we set off up to launch. We were optimistic! Until the rain set in again, which didn't take long.

No task, but a few people stuck around to free fly, and the Terraces turned on in the late afternoon. So did the Cardrona Hotel.

Briefing on Monday morning was cancelled, as it was clear there would be no flying.

Let's see what Tuesday has in store for us!

(Thanks Kris Ericksen for the photo)


120 pilots here now, great conditions today, blue at first then cumulus with 3000m base, light SW/SE wind with westerly up top, all pilots spread from bomb-out to 150km out ... still a few pilots left to report distances, quite a few personal bests broken today.

I was about 5th off launch today keen to avoid the traffic, climbed quickly to 8000ft and took off in the blue ... landing 22km later to watch cumulus forming and pilots flying overhead ...doh!

Leonardo Flights

Joe Ward