Competitors struggling for suitable conditions at national paragliding champs

United States pilot Erin Riley negotiates the air currents during her competitive debut at the national paragliding ...
JOHN HENDERSON

United States pilot Erin Riley negotiates the air currents during her competitive debut at the national paragliding championships.

The weather conditions have meant a frustrating few days for competitors at the New Zealand paragliding championships being held around the Tasman region.

Conditions hadn't looked promising on Saturday morning as strong high-level winds meant that the competitors weren't able to fly any of the big mountains. The forecast for relatively strong winds on the ground also raised the possibility of no competition.

The organisers chose Barnicoat as their best option, their decision paying off as the sun eventually burnt through the cloud and the sea breeze swung the wind direction round.

A 24km task was set and about a dozen pilots were able to make it to goal. At least two flyers set new personal best distances.

Sunday's conditions had improved but still with moderately strong winds. So the competitors headed to Havelock where the hills are relatively sheltered and not too high above sea level.

A slightly more ambitious 45km task was set, ending near Picton. All of the pilots were able to get airborne but it quickly became apparent that the westerly high-level wind combined with the sea breeze was making conditions difficult and so the task was stopped for safety reasons, with only a handful covering much distance.

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 - Stuff

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