New HG Class 1 World Champion: 13 years + 6 points + 6 minutes!


The new HG Class 1 World Champion is Petr Banes from Czech Republic, the second and third are Alessandro Ploner and Christian Ciech from Italy.
National Teams podium order is 1st - Italy, 2d - Czech and 3d - Germany.

21st FAI World Hang gliding Class 1 Championship in Brasilia, Brazil has come to an end. 9 tasks over 100 km over the Brazilian flatland were a real challenge for most of the pilots. That's why the number or those who reached the goal varied every day from as high as around 100 to as low as 1 or 0 pilots at all.

The official take off was Paraná Valley Ramp, in Formosa (GO). Located 92 km from the Federal Capital, the city of Goiás has a take off at about 1,000 meters ASL. The goal was usualy set in the flats near the capital or for spectators' purpose right on the Esplanada in the city. Wide enough for about 30 pilots to come, Esplanada still required some height limitations for safety arrival as one needed to cross power lines or high traffic roads. In the final rush the pilots used to neglect those rules that made the organizers adjust them on the spot - and they succeeded to keep them all in good health.  Though not without some adventures of improper place landing that made a lot of fuss for retrieve and that settled juridical issues.

Before the begining of the comp, the absolute favorite was Christian Ciech - previous HG Class 1 Champion. Then for some time it seemed that his team mate Alessandro Ploner would take over the leadership. But later he had to move to give way to Petr Banes a young star from Czech republic. They went almost head to head: before the final task only 6 points separated Ploner form Banes. The tension was at the peak: in the final task all three leaders were so tired that they couldn't even come within first 10. Still Petr arrived 6 minutes ahead of Alessandro and it decided it all.

On the whole the skill and team spirit performance of Italian pilots let them win the first place in the Nations ranking. Czech team took the second. In his interview to Jamie Shelden, Petr Banes gave out a secret of Czech success. He explained that conditions in the Czech Republic are very rarely strong or consistent. So, from the very start of their flying careers, they must learn to stay up in the most difficult conditions, rarely getting all that high above the terrain. Petr also told a bit about himself. He’s a relatively new hang glider pilot, having learned just about 13 years ago, starting out in sailplanes at age 17.

The real "bloody battle" though happened in the third place - when after last task Roland Woehrle's input into German team moved USA out of the podium with just 6 points of difference.

It was a fascinating competition with stuning races. All of us watched Jon Durand from Australia in his incomparable magic flight - no wonder he got 1000 for the task 4 - he flew as if he knew where to go.

Also it was a kind magic that after 3 hours of flight brought Genki Tanaka (JPN) to the goal of task 6 as the only one who managed to do it. Thought we know it is not magic at all - it is a highest skill with decades of training - a long road to enter 150 best pilots of the world.

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Competition website


Award ceremony video:

Photos by brasilia2017.com, fai.org and Jamie Shelden.