Beautiful Havelock; photo cred: Devon MacDonald
Strong westerlies at altitude were forecast on Sunday, keeping us out of the mountains.

The two best options were another task at Barnicoat, or head to Havelock. We opted to jump in the cars and race to Havelock.

Task was set to start at Footes Hill, then deep in the hills at the back to Pelorus with a 10km cylinder, over to Riley North, across the valley to Cullen West, up to Cullen North then towards Picton at Duncan, with Goal at Cullensville.

We were warned to watch for the sea breeze coming in, or for the high westerly to greet us, which we expected to find at around 4000 feet. The first few pilots launched and had no trouble staying aloft, but the radio call came through pretty quickly that pilots were feeling the westerly from about 2000 feet.

Next thing you know, the sea breeze picked up. That made for choppy air around Footes Hill, demonstrated by the rocking wings and wee collapses; as Tim Brown describes it: The Jiggles.

A few Level 2 and Level 3 calls came over the radio, and at 13:11, the task was stopped due to safety concerns. A good call. Sadly, it looks like we haven’t met the minimum criteria of 5 pilots flying a minimum 6km on course to be a valid task. 

Well, we gave it a good shot. And tomorrow is another day. And we'll have some great photos to share - watch this space.


Tim Brown briefing the task
The Nelson round of the PG Open got off to a fine start on Friday night, with what was probably the best registration barbie a paragliding comp has ever seen. Yum.

The formalities were taken care of, with introductions from competition organisers Peter Allison, Nick Taber & Frog Twissell.

The Task Committee of Tim Brown, Jeff Ripley & Itai Almog was appointed, and the Safety Committee of Russell Read, Joe Ward and Roy Tingay elected.

Since the forecast for Saturday wasn’t looking flash, a few of the pilots took the opportunity to offer extensive support to one of our generous competition sponsors – the Sprig & Fern pub.

They may have been regretting it on Saturday morning, when we were all reminded that the weather sometimes surprises us. 

Saturday saw us head up to Barnicoat, where the wind was initially over the back. The Task Committee didn’t seem to take notice, and focused on setting the task. Don’t worry, they said. 
The wind will come around.

Task 1 was set with start at Barnicoat, over to Jenkins then to Spur with Trees, back to Cumming Spur, end of speed at Water Tank, and goal back at Barni. The wind was still over the back.

We bided time listening to the Sprig & Fern supporters in the group regale us with tales of their ‘quiet night’, and next thing you know, we could feel the breeze on our faces.

Frog Twissell encouraging Hamish Barker to get in the air
Barnicoat is a beautiful big launch, so it didn't take long to get everyone in the air and on course.

Jeff Ripley was the first in goal, with a small gaggle in hot pursuit. It was a short task of 24km, but a very welcome surprise to get a fly on a day we were expecting strong winds and rain, and a great way to kick off the competition.

The weather looks promising for the next few days too, so we have big plans rest of the week.


Updated National Paragliding Ladder.

You can download the latest version of the New Zealand paragliding ladder here.

It has been updated to include the six valid tasks from the PG Open (Round 1) that was held in Manilla.

Reuben Muir has overtaken Grant Middendorf at the top of the table and Jeff Ripley has climbed into third place.

Glen Stevens, Louis Tapper and Roy Tingay have all entered the Top Ten at the expense of Derek Divers, Mark Hardman and Eva Keim.

Joe Ward has appeared on the table - straight into 11th place!

Glen Stevens has scored the most ladder points (375) so far this season, while Nick Neynens is the biggest climber, moving up 28 places to number 15.

There are now 93 pilots on the ladder, and 52 of them have 277 points or less, so are facing the chop between seasons.

There are two competitions still scheduled this season that will affect this ladder.


The After Party
It should be some small consolation to those at home that there was no task on the last day of the competition.

Upper level winds were forecast to be extremely strong, so although a task was set to fly to Bingara, the Comp Organiser declared that launch was not going to open.

No worries - pilots were pretty tired and it meant that the closing ceremony was brought forward.

The competition winner will be no surprise - Peter Slade, who won three of the six tasks. Highest scoring Kiwi was Reuben Muir, in tenth place overall.

A very successful competition overall, and massive kudos goes to organiser Mark Hardman, with support from:

Task Committee: Evan Lamberton, Craig Collings, Gareth Carter
Safety Committee: Brandon O'Donnell, JJ Bastion, Ivo Kalushkov
Launch Marshals: Janice Lamberton, Sandy Yong, Melanie Heather
Scoring: Johnny Hopper, with support from Cameron Kennedy (and of course loads of support from Geoff Wong)
Hospitality: Godfrey Wenness of Manilla Paragliding

It's been an awesome week for all of us, with more than half of the Kiwis smashing PBs, and knocking out big distances. Jeff Ripley, in the 8 flying days he was here, flew a total of 929.3km. Reuben, who made goal EVERY TASK, flew close to 1000km.

We had three pilots throw reserves, with one of them needing to deploy both his reserves (lucky he had two!). All pilots are uninjured, so it's all happy endings.

The only thing left to deal with is that Robbo needs new undies after a 12m/s climb the other day (that sadly pulled him over 10,000ft, the altitude limit for the competition). Can anybody help?

With six out of seven days flying, we had a 6000 point competition - unheard of for NZ!

Overall results: Kiwi Open Highcloud Results

Great flying, and now I can't wait for Round 2 in Nelson in a few weeks! Not signed up yet? There's still time - register here:


You're joking, right? No FAI comp has ever completed a 214km task, and we need to fly that in less than six and a half hours?

We don't even have a waypoint for that. It's off the maps. It's almost Queensland!!

Fortunately we have 'can-do' pilots in this comp. And on Saturday they certainly showed they were up for the challenge, even on a blue day.

214km task
The first of 31 pilots to goal was Donizete Lemos of Brazil, in 5h20m.

Jeff Ripley was the first Kiwi in goal in just under six hours, with Reuben Muir 19 minutes later and Stuart Mackintosh another five minutes behind that.

Wayne Rohrs, Glen Stevens & Joe Ward came short, but all cracked the 200km mark, and Elliot Revell-Nash was not far behind at 182km.

Leading the scoreboard as we go in to the last task is Peter Slade, but it's a tight race. Let's see if he can hold on.

Results: Highcloud Kiwi Open Results

Live tracking: Kiwi Open Live Tracking


With a sky like that,
why am I on the ground?
Photo cred: Joe Ward
All the days seem to blend into one when you have great flying every day.

The task committee shook things up by having us go west for a change on Friday. The start was a 6km cylinder around Godfrey's House, then over to Boggabri with a 5km cylinder and north towards Narrabri with goal at Turrawan.

A fairly strong crosswind made it a tough task, with loads of pilots getting drilled trying to keep south enough to tag the first waypoint.

However we still had 46 pilots in goal, with Peter Slade in there first.

Middy was the first Kiwi and winner of the Sport class for the day, reaching goal in 2h12m.

This might be the first day since we've been here that no one on the Kiwi team has flown a PB. Come on guys, we still have two days of flying to go. You're not tired, are you?

Results: Highcloud Kiwi Open Results

Did you know you can live-track us? Check this out while we are flying, expected between around 2pm and 8pm Kiwi time: Kiwi Open Live Tracking


Task Committee hard at work
Protests were expected yesterday after severe penalties were applied for pilots not checking in by the sign-out deadline of 7pm, including Donizete, the first pilot in to goal.

On further investigation, it was deemed that he did make reasonable efforts to sign out, and he got his points back, making him officially the winner of Wednesday's task.

Now on to Task 4 on Thursday: conditions were initially confusing. Forecasts were contradicting each other so we didn't really know what to expect. When we showed up at the west launch, there was already a fair breeze coming through. And clouds! We haven't seen decent clouds for days.

NZ's Helen Jeffery also
successfully protested
penalty points
(after flying another cracking PB!)
The task was set with the usual 8km start cylinder around Mt Borah, to an 8km cylinder at Woodsref near Barraba, and on to goal at Moree.

Due to airspace around Moree, there was a 21km End of Speed, with goal a 20km cylinder. Over-flying was not recommended or you could be in trouble with the CAA.

While we're on the topic of airspace, pilots had to be careful not to breach the 10,000 foot ceiling. Believe it or not, it wasn't always easy. Several pilots found out the hard way, getting themselves a score of zero or -500 points, whichever is more severe, for the task. Ouch, that hurts.

Peter Slade was again the first in to goal, making it in 2h55m. We know the Aussies are racers but that's fast - this is 134.38km task!

First Kiwi in to goal was Reuben Muir in 3h06m. Big round of applause as well, please, for Andrew Cavaney, who quadrupled his PB flying 123km on task.

Results: Highcloud Kiwi Open Results

Did you know you can live-track us? Check this out while we are flying, expected between around 2pm and 8pm Kiwi time: Kiwi Open Live Tracking

[Update with corrections from Godfrey: there is no "airspace" around Moree. It's a CTAF which requires VHF airband radio monitoring and calls if below 3500ft - any PG/HG pilot with a VHF airband radio endorsement can fly through it; however for this competition it is forbidden to fly there. There is no airspace above 10'000 either - Class E airspace starts at 18'500 in this region. We are permitted to fly up to 14500ft with use of supplementary oxygen. Without Oxy 10,000 ft is the limit for all VFR aircraft, but again, it's forbidden in the Kiwi Open.}


Blue skies and a light southerly gave us a slow, hard slog on Wednesday. It's a tough life.

The task was set up to Bingara, with a 1km cylinder around the town. Then a 10km exit around Bingara, and back in again, with a 2km end of speed, and 1km for goal. Confused?

Have a look at the track log for Glen Stevens, first Kiwi in to goal. Great idea for a task, and a successful one too, given 50 pilots made goal.

First in to goal was Brazilian Donizete Lemos, who got there in 2h47m. Donizete is no stranger to glory - a few months ago he broke the open distance record with a 514km flight in Brazil. Sadly he neglected to check in after his flight, and was therefore penalised 500 points.

That moves Peter Slade into the task winner position (again). That's all pending protests, which are expected in this case. Keeps things interesting.

Results: Highcloud Kiwi Open Results


Curious spectators
It's getting a bit silly, now, isn't it guys?

More Kiwi pilots making the 100km+ club, including Robbo, Roy Tingay, Glen Stevens, Stuart Macintosh, Keith Clapson, Louis Tapper, Elliot Revell-Nash and Leighton Joll.

Oh and I forgot to mention that Rodger Kerr was another to fly over 100km the previous day. Awesome stuff, guys. And with 45 pilots in goal, it was another successful task.

The day brought us stronger winds from the SSE, and the thermals were a bit scrappy. The task was set in the same direction as Task 1, with an 8km start cylinder around Mt Borah, a waypoint at Upper Horton to keep us on track, then on to End of Speed at Terry Hei Hei (2km) with goal a 1km cylinder around the same. Australia's Peter Slade was the task winner, making goal in 2h24m.

The feedback from Monday's task was that the 20km goal cylinder made for tricky retrieves, so this tidied that up a bit and meant that pilots were more likely to land close together.

It's been interesting to see how many pilots make quick trips to the bomb-out, through scruffy climbs and big sink, then head straight to goal on a re-flight.

Of course nothing is perfect, and the challenge on Tuesday was a Telstra outage in the area (most pilots are using Telstra SIMs), as well as some widespread failures with SPOT trackers for several hours. This made for some further long retrieves and confusion as to where the pilots and their drivers would be.

The task committee has been using an interesting method of starting the task - instead of one start time or gates, we've had a start window of between 30 and 45 minutes, with pilot's speed results being elapsed time from leaving the start cylinder. It seems to be quite an effective way to avoid having 120 competitors hanging around just over launch waiting for the gun.

Scores: Highcloud Kiwi Open Results


If those of you watching from home weren't already jealous of what you are missing in Manilla, you should be now.

Sunday was a training day, with more beautiful conditions at Mt Borah, and more spectacular PBs broken - including Evan Lamberton and Wayne Rohrs, who both flew over 110km in a very blue sky. It was hard work but very rewarding, and perfect IFR (I follow roads) flying, with the SSE sending us pretty well straight up north.

Monday, the first day of the Kiwi Open, Round 1 of this year's PG Open, was an even better day. The task was set with an 8km start cylinder around Mt Borah, then up through the Horton Valley to a 21km End of Speed at Terry Hie Hie, and goal a 20km cylinder around the same waypoint.

A few more clouds accompanied us and helped guide 38 pilots in to goal. Even some late starts who launched close to 3pm (just before the launch window closed) managed to fly the 85km to goal. First in was Ivan Anissimov on his Enzo2. I know the Aussies are typically racers, but wow, he was fast, getting there in under two hours.

Overflying goal to become yet another pilot to get a 100+km flight under his belt on this trip, was Johnny Hopper.

Check here for scores: Highcloud Kiwi Open Results

There has also been some fun with retrieves. After an unnecessarily long (6 hour?) retrieve, Team GIN can probably recommend at least one local driver to avoid. Hope everyone managed to get some tea, because Tuesday promises to be another big day.


Reubs in the lead, getting high up there.
Photo cred: Rhys Akers
We all know how important timing is in paragliding, and it seems the latest bunch of Kiwis to arrive really nailed their timing.

The classic Manilla conditions we've all been waiting for turned on just in time to give us a strong finish to XC Camp on Saturday.

The conditions were similar to Friday, with a moderate ESE. As with most days over the past week, launch was tricky but a little more friendly than we've seen lately, so most who wanted to get away, could do so.

The crowd spread out quickly, with small gaggles disappearing mostly over to Boggabri Gap then north.

We had a few pilots surprise themselves with new Personal Bests: Hamish Dicker at 42km, Peter Poboril at 55km & Adam Morrow at 74.6km.

Several Kiwi pilots were over the 100km mark: Rhys Akers at 103km (also a new PB!), Mark Hardman and Reuben Muir around 126km. Jeff Ripley & Grant Middendorf kept going, pulling out flights of 182km & 185km! These guys don't waste any time getting to know the place, do they?

A couple of other international pilots flew on, with Ari Sohlstrom from Finland cracking 200km. We'll keep an eye on him in the Kiwi Open next week.

The winner for the week was Karsten from Germany. Mark Hardman was the lead Kiwi pilot, and third overall.

Nice work, everyone. This is what it's meant to be like! Who's coming back next year?


Gaggles. Photo cred: Joe Ward
Friday turned into another day of flying at Mt Borah for those prepared to brave the strong winds.

The furthest flight was 171km by Karsten from Germany, followed by a mammoth retrieve, including 20km of walking through fields then several hours of waiting for his pick-up.

Best flight by a Kiwi was Tony Skerrett's 154km out west to the north of Wee Waa. (Look, I know he is an FAI Australian, but he was born in NZ so officially, he's ours.)

Tim Percival also pulled out a great flight, coming 4th overall with 98km.

Saturday is the last day and turned out some big flights. Stand by for results.


Mark approaching base. Photo cred: Michal Karnik
Finally our hard work parawaiting has paid off, and we've had two days back in the air.

Day 5 (Wednesday) was hard work but we're on the scoreboard. Mark Hardman was the lead Kiwi, and fourth overall for the day, with a 43km flight.

There was over-development later in the day that brought some of the most intense rain we have ever seen in Manilla. Fortunately HQ at Godfrey's missed the worst of it, but we have reports of some tents floating away in town.

Day 6 was tricky too. It was a toss up between getting off early enough before the wind picked up, and waiting long enough for the ground to really dry from the previous night's rain.

The gaggle above launch got pretty crowded, but paid off for those who stuck it out. The longest flight was 79km, and our own Hamish Dicker got special mention for the longest flight in the Fun class.

Plenty of markers in the air
In case you missed it, you can catch Mark Hardman here, talking to Prime7 news about the upcoming Kiwi Open: Flying High Video

Most of the remaining Kiwi contingent is expected to descend on Manilla late today, so that pretty well guarantees a great flying day tomorrow. Doesn't it?


Who says paragliding isn't a spectator sport?
The Kiwis descended en masse on Manilla for the XC Camp, which started with a bang! So far we’ve seen multiple pilots getting 100km+ flights and PBs falling left, right and centre.

No, wait. That was last year.

For the 2016 XC Camp we’ve so far been limited to early morning or late afternoon glides down from Mt Borah due to some large, persistent low pressure systems over NSW bringing strong winds. 

However, Team Kiwi is making the most of the holiday time, with swimming, yoga, ground handling, visits to local water holes, slack-lining, catching up on work, card games, barbecues, video editing and the odd cold beer or ten.

We’ve already managed some non-flying injuries, with Jakub pulling a tendon in his knee after getting picked up by an invisible dust devil (aka 'grass devil') while ground-handling, and Sheralee heading home early for hand surgery due to an incident on the rope swing at the water hole. Let’s hope that’s the extent of the damage.

Today (Tuesday) was the first day that looked really promising, and a few pilots managed to get in the air before the wind really picked up and made launching only a possibility for the very experienced or very…brave. With most of the experienced pilots wise enough to wait for better conditions, it made for interesting watching to see the few 'brave' pilots prepare to fly. I’ve never seen so many cameras ready to film what were guaranteed to be exciting launches. Have a look at Louis Tapper's video capturing the day; Manilla Rodeo

More excitement came when a pilot hit some power lines on landing. Now I’m not saying the events were related, but there was a widespread power outage at Godfrey’s camp at about the same time. Hmm. Fortunately it all got sorted out within a few hours, and the pilot is safe and sound.

It was also fortunate that everyone was on the ground early, since we’ve been seeing gusts higher than 70 kph all afternoon on launch.

A handful of Kiwis managed to get away today, but not very far. Mark Hardman and Reuben Muir got about 10km under their belts, flying to the East over Fossickers Way. Gareth Gore pushed into a crosswind towards 4-Ways to get about 6km, and the Kiwi-Czech boys smattered down around Upper Manilla.

The forecast for tomorrow looks promising, and we're ready for action.