Current top 10 at the 22nd FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship

pic4 copyTen days, eight flight and 26 tasks ago, 105 of the world’s best competitors from 31 countries began competing in the 22nd FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship. With one flight to go, the current Top 10 after 26 tasks are:



R.  Name Points

Rhett Heartsill (USA)

20 260


Rokas Kostiuskevicius (LTU)

18 026


Stefan Zeberli (SUI)

17 994


Rimas Kostiuskevicis (LTU)

17 993


Roman Hugi (SUI)

17 422


Nicolas Schwartz (FRA)

17 361


Chase Donner (USA)

17 275


Dominic Bareford (GBR)

17 198


Uwe Schneider (GER)

17 114


Sergey Latypov (RUS)

16 896




Defending Champion Yudai Fujita (JPN) is in 15th place with 16 205 points. 2014 and 2016 Women’s World Champion Nicola Scaife is in 35th place with 13 741 points.

While the Top 10 has seen a lot of change, including Rokas Kostiuskevicius (LTU) overtaking his father Rimas and 2014 World Junior Champion Dominic Bareford (GBR) moving into the Top 10, Rhett Heartsill (USA) has held onto 1st place since Task 12 and has increased his lead to 2 234 points.

Depending upon the number of tasks Event Director Les Purfield calls for the last flight – will it be 3, 4, or even more – only those in the Top 20 have a numerical chance to upset Rhett Heartsill (USA). Realistically, the 2016 World Hot Air Balloon Championship will come from the current Top 10, but even though Rhett appears to have a solid lock on 1st place, many questions remain. . .

  • Will Rhett and Joe Heartsill (1995 World Champion) become the first father-son duo to claim the World Hot Air Balloon Championship?
  • Can Rimas Kostiuskevicius (LTU) find two points to move into 3rd place ahead of Stefan Zeberli (SUI)?
  • Will Rokas and Rimas Kostiuskevicius (LTU) share the podium and in what order?
  • Will Paul or John Petrehn (USA) get into the Top 10 and setup a USA sweep of the podium?
  • Can any country put 3 competitors into the Top 10?
  • Will defending champion Yudai Fujita (JPN) get into the Top 10 and finish as the top Japanese competitor?

Complete results for each task and overall standings can be found at here.

The final briefing for the 22nd FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship begins in less than one hour. The number of tasks will determine who has a realistic chance of becoming the 2016 World Hot Air Balloon Champion, getting into the Top 10 or on the podium. The other questions will be answered today, in about six hours when the results of this morning’s flight are known, and recognized officially at the Prizegiving Ceremony on Monday.

This is the fourth time the World Hot Air Balloon Championship has been held in Japan and the third time in Saga. Previous events in Saga were in 1989 and 1997 and at Motegi in 2006.

Additional information about the Saga International Balloon Fiesta can be found here.

Photo Credits: Jean-Claude Weber