Hopes for nine days' glide time

Richie McCaw gliding at Omarama last year. Photo by Jill McCaw.
Richie McCaw gliding at Omarama last year. Photo by Jill McCaw.
Organisers of the New Zealand National Gliding Championships in Omarama hope to get at least nine days of competitive racing in over the next two weeks, despite a poor forecast for the new year.

About 30 pilots from across New Zealand have been entered in this year's event, which begins today and runs until January 12 at the Omarama airfield.

Organiser Max Stevens said a scheduled practice day yesterday had to be curtailed due to poor weather, but it was hoped pilots would be able to take part in races on at least eight or nine days before a winner was announced.

Gliders could be expected to reach speeds between 200kmh and 500kmh during the competition, he said.

''Pilots navigate by GPS and their flights are recorded on GPS and downloaded on to computer and scored off that. Basically, you get points according to how fast you went, until there is a winner.''

He said races in four classes would take place every day, depending on the weather, and points would be accumulated until the final day.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw would also be taking part in the championships,

''with a bunch of pilots taking turns in a team effort. He hasn't time to be here for the whole fortnight''.

''They're entering it basically for fun.''