Fourth consecutive win a first in national champs

Four-time national paragliding champion Louis Tapper takes off for a practice flight during the...
Four-time national paragliding champion Louis Tapper takes off for a practice flight during the New Zealand Paragliding Nationals near Nelson. PHOTOS: DONALD PAYNE/RYAN LARRAMAN
Queenstown paragliding ace Louis Tapper has bagged his fourth national championships in a row.

It is the first time anyone has achieved the feat in the event’s 30-year history.

After a week-long competition in the Nelson region that ended last Saturday, Tapper edged out fellow resort pilots Aaron Ford (runner-up) and Chris Connolly to take the title.

Wanaka-based Australian Clancy Pamment finished fourth to complete a dominant display by pilots from the Queenstown Lakes area, which continues to be a magnet for the sport’s top talent.

The event was decided by a series of "tasks", or flights that are the aerial equivalent of yacht racing, with 80 competitors flying around a course using GPS-logged turning points.

Louis Tapper.
Louis Tapper.
Tapper said poor weather meant only three tasks were flown, making it difficult to separate the top competitors, but he "did enough to win".

He usually competes in Europe for several months every northern summer, but Covid-19 stopped him going last year.

He is taking a wait-and-see approach to this year’s European season though, which includes the world championships in France in May and June.

Tapper, who only took up the sport in 2011, broke the national distance record of 197km in 2019 after an eight-hour flight from Treble Cone, near Wanaka.

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