These are our boys...!

These fine gentlemen are the New Zealand Paragliding Team for the 2017 World Paragliding Championships in Italy.

Let's see who they are, in no particular order...

Name: Matt Senior
Age: 40
Lives: Seattle and Pranburi, Thailand
Best NZ Flying Memory: climbing to base with Jeff Ripley and a Sailplane before gliding to goal on a gorgeous peninsular at last years Auckland Regional Comp
How he qualified:  I qualified for the world championships by travelling the world competing in PWC events and other high level competitions. This will be my 3rd World Champs and am super excited to have Louis and Stuart join me this year.
Aspirations: I would like to score 900+ everyday and finish in the top 20 

Name: Stuart Mackintosh
Age: 38
Lives: Near Turin, in Northwest Italy
Best NZ Flying Memory:  I think the first little thermal flights on the port hills. Especially crossing Lyttelton harbour. Totally unexpected. I think flying where you grew up is something really special. Seeing the places you know so well from another perspective. It's something I miss being over here.
How he qualified: Getting qualified had been a goal of mine for the last couple of years. I had a big set back with an accident 2 years ago. My first comp back after the accident was in the Kiwi open in Manila. All I wanted to do was take it easy and get to goal. The strategy paid off. This didn't qualify me but was a good start. I had 2 other comps in Italy that didn't go so well. Then at the end of the season I went to the 3 pizzi trophy in central Italy. The day before the comp the region was rocked by a devastating earthquake and although we were 80km from the devastation our NOTAM was cancelled while the authorities decided what airspace was needed for quake relief. As a result the comp was in doubt. After the first day being cancelled our amazing organisers managed to secure a reduced airspace for the comp and we went ahead with the philosophy that it was better to continue as normal and inject some tourism euros into the area. A philosophy I fully support having lived through the chch quakes and seen the flow on effects of declining tourism as a result. This ended up being a great comp for me. The conditions turned out great for me flying a sport wing, it was very much about tactics and smart decision making rather than racing full bar on a comp wing. I placed 14th which gave me enough points to qualify outright for the worlds with only that comp. Also, combined with the other comps I did, I made the top 500 in WRPS which is the other avenue for qualification. As far as selection goes, when I initially set out to qualify, I didn't think it would be an issue. NZ had had only one pilot qualify for the worlds for the past two worlds (since they created the qualification rule). Contrary to my expectations NZ had 5 pilots qualify. I was at a disadvantage not being on the NZ ladder but I was given merit for flying in Manila. In the end I have to thank Reuben who decided not to come, otherwise I wouldn't have made the cut.
Aspirations: First of all fly safe and have fun. Secondly I'd love to finish in the top 100. There are 150 pilots. I think it could be tough.

Name: Louis Tapper
Age: 12
Lives: Queenstown, for 5 months of the year
Best NZ Flying Memory: Big XC flights in the South Island have to rank high on my list. I can't call one out in particular as they are all good on the right day.
How he qualified: I spent a month this summer in Australia doing back to back competitions, which gave me the points to make the first cut (top 500 in the world).
I am also the only local NZ to qualify though the traditional means, placing #1 on the National Ladder.
Aspirations: I thought it would be another 2 years before I was ready for the opportunity to compete in the worlds, so it was not initially on the radar for me. Really learning is the key for me and failing that, doing anything that impress Johnny Hopper would be good ;-) 

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