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New Zealand Grand Prix

The International Gliding Commission Bureau has confirmed New Zealand will host the first of the National Grand Prix events in 2006. These events, planned to be held worldwide, will qualify top-ranked pilots for the second World Sailplane Grand Prix in 2007. The New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix will take place in Omarama in New Zealand's South Island from 21-29 January 2006.

Bob Henderson, IGC president, said of the successful bid, "New Zealand's bid for Omarama in 2006 was supported because it offers tremendous gliding opportunities amongst a dramatic landscape with few, if any, air space restrictions relative to the scale of this event. The Bureau also supported Omarama as a site as there is existing infrastructure in place that will provide the critical support required to run a successful event."

An invitation-only event, the New Zealand Grand Prix will feature the world's top pilots, including New Zealanders John Coutts, the current world champion, and Terry Delore, distance soaring record holder. Respected mountain soaring instructor, Gavin Wills, will set the tasks and they promise to be some of the most challenging ever set, with New Zealand's spectacular alpine scenery providing an additional element of excitement.

In addition, the New Zealand Grand Prix aims to change the face of competitive gliding by making it a compulsive spectator sport using next generation TV technology from Animation Research, of America's Cup fame, and a giant outdoor screen. A new type of stabilised helicopter camera system will also be used so send live pictures back to the airfield. Work is already well underway to secure international media coverage and attract 10 -15,000 spectators to watch the event live from Omarama Airfield over the three public days of the event from 27-29 January.

"Our goal for the New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix is to create an exciting new spectator sport, heightening public awareness of the extraordinary skill and daring these elite pilots show," said competition organiser, Peter Newport. "The recent Worlds in France proved the new Grand Prix rules work, producing a safe, fast and exciting event the pilots all enjoyed. The tight, dramatic finishes of the races are exactly what gliding needs if it is to become a spectator and mass media sport."

Internationally-renowned soaring conditions and fast, demanding racing from the world's best pilots, combined with interaction from thousands of spectators will ensure the New Zealand Gliding Grand Prix is the first in an exiting new generation of gliding competitions. Spectators will also enjoy a wealth of on-ground activities as well as other aerial entertainment. Tickets go on sale from 1 November with further information available from www.gp06.com.

Posted: 9/26/2005 By: General News

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