Opening days of the NZ PG Open 2018 in Wanaka

The PG Open kicked off at Treble Cone on Sunday, with a 95km task. It was a stunning sight-seeing trip up the valley to take in views of the glaciers before heading back down towards Mt Roy & into the Cardrona valley, then up to Mt Maud & finishing with goal in Wanaka.

Around a third of the field made it to goal, but the task was confidently won by local darling, Louis Tapper. Or so we thought.

A number of scoring issues with track logs kept competition scorer Tim Brown busy well into the night. With those eventually clearing up, the next step was to look at airspace. The usual tolerances are not allowed in this competition, and any breach of airspace results in 0 points for the day.

It seems that a significant number of pilots may be watching barometric altitude on their instruments instead of GPS altitude, which is used for scoring. Or perhaps not using airspace alerts.

In any case, after re-scoring the task to reflect airspace infringements, 14 pilots are awarded 0 points, dramatically changing the leader board and putting James Johnston in the number one position for Task One.
Photo: Kris Erickssen
The second day of the comp we were back at Treble Cone, wary of the NW wind that was due to come in & spank us later in the day.

The task was set with start at End Peak, then up the valley towards Niger Peak, back to End Peak and over to Terras.

The valley wind came crashing in earlier and stronger than anticipated, so the task was stopped after 45 minutes. It made for some dramatic landings, with a few drags and much discussion around strong wind, descent techniques and general safety.

Louis won the task, managing to knock almost 23km off the 81km task in the short time we were racing.

Day three was forecast to be similar to the previous day (building NW), so the task committee determined our best chance for a task was at Coronet Peak. We walked up to the launch site & started to prepare. Next went something like this:

Mark: “Task briefing in five minutes!”
Pilots: Pause to watch a dust devil.
Pilots: Pause to watch another dust devil.
Mark: “Task briefing delayed indefinitely!”
Pilots: Pause to watch several more bigger dusties and vastly increasing wind.
Mark: “Task cancelled”.
Pilots: Pack up & drive to Cardrona Hotel.
Phil Hystek: Unicycle down the hill.

The forecast has us grounded for the next couple of days, so out come the mountain bikes, kites & climbing gear.

Hang gliding nationals are on now too, with some great flying. They’ve headed to Mt Murchison today & it sounds ON.

PG Open 2018 is organised by Mark Hardman (Paraventures), and includes 100 competitors from 32 different countries. It runs in Wanaka from 27 Jan to 4 Feb.

Find the scores here: PG Open 2018 Wanaka results

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