Paragliding Pre-Worlds Series – Manilla 2006
By Godfrey Wenness
The Pre-Worlds in Manilla were a break with tradition in that 2 events were organized in series providing the mostly overseas pilots a double chance at WPRS points and of course all important practise for the main event in 2007. The web site registrations reached nearly 200 in each event from 27 nations within a few weeks of opening, and as such team size entry limitations were applied to allow all countries entering to be represented as equally as possible.
Mt Borah greeted pilots with stage 1 of its $220k facility improvement program for 2007 completed after 2 months of non-stop work. New East road widened, re-aligned and to 2WD standard, a fully astro-turfed and re-shaped West Launch (completed only the week before the start of the events), and the partially complete North Launch widening with 3000sqm of astro-turf down temporarily for the event.
After over a month of great XC conditions and a very successful NSW State HG Titles the week prior, the weather gods didn’t want to play anymore. Previous Pre-Worlds events elsewhere have been plagued with bad weather, and unfortunately for the 150 pilots that arrived in Manilla, the first week kept that hoodoo alive as the Kiwi Open finished with only 2 tasks in 7 days. The responsible party was a late monsoon season triggering a deep eastern inland trough which then promoted a text book south eastern Queensland low system that made its presence felt on the 2nd day and hung around for most of the week.
Kiwi Task 1 : Friday 24th Feb : A quick 74kms task to a GPS Goal at Turrawan near Narrabri. Good conditions on course with some larger clouds being used to the maximum prompting complaints of cloud flying (ie : cheating) against some pilots. It was won by the Norwegian Team pilots (top 5 places) who were not the fastest but gained extra points for the risk in taking an early start time compared to the 4 French that were just behind on points but faster. The only Aussie in the top 10 was veteran Brian Webb flying his Avax into 10th.
Kiwi Task 2 : Saturday 25th Feb : 54kms around the local area looked easy but became a shorter technical task to keep pilots away from potential over development. The new 7000sqm astro-turfed Mt Borah West launch got its competition christening as the field launched in record time. A patch of high level cloud and a blue hole added to the challenge. 18 of the top pilots made goal with many slower pilots landing short as the high cloud shut things down. The day was won by Takagi of Japan who raced the 5 strong lead gaggle in to the end of the speed section 1km before goal. It was a foreign invasion again in the top 10 again with the only Aussie being comp organizer Godfrey Wenness in 4th on his serial Omega 7 proto. New National Champ Craig Collings was in 13th followed closely by James “the Seagull” Lawson in 15th as the only other Aussie’s in goal.
Kiwi Task 3 : 26th Feb : A short 41kms Elapsed Time Race was called but cancelled after 20mins due to observed over development north of the course area potentially spreading over launch and beyond.