On glide at the start of a race. Image credit: Tina Thorburn

For five days in early February the sky around the mountain town of Bright in country Victoria was filled with 80 paraglider pilots competing in the annual Bright Open. This is a cross-country competition in which pilots race around a course which is chosen on the day to suit the weather conditions. This year the tasks ranged in distance from 70km to 97km.

If you want some sense of what the racing was like, check out the Ayvri ‘Horse Races’ that Wally Arcidiacono puts together from everyone’s tracklogs:

Here are some tips for watching the horse races on Ayvri:

  • Check out the course first on airScore,
  • Select an interesting pilot to watch (e.g. the winner of the task),
  • Make it fullscreen (square icon bottom right),
  • Turn off tracks so you can see what’s going on (third icon from bottom right, then click the squiggle),
  • Slow it down to at least 32x real time (minus icon bottom left),
  • Expand the stats so you can see the pilot’s altitude and climb rate (middle right), (for reference the altitude of the valley floor is usually around 300m),
  • Zoom in and out by scrolling, click and drag to move the view around,
  • The race doesn’t begin right at the start, the pilots first gather for the start which happens at a prearranged time, so watch for when everyone starts going fast in the same direction.

A particular highlight this year was Task 5, which was a 97km triangle, finishing up close to where we started. Amazingly, one and only one pilot, Brett Robinson, got to goal, and he was flying an EN-C glider (sports class, not a high-performance competition wing).

The overall results can be seen on airScore.

Preparing for the start. Image credit: Tina Thorburn