OMARAMA, New Zealand (December 19, 2007) – The FAI World GP Gliding Championship action got underway today with 18 elite international pilots competing for the prestigious title.

The 221.1km task had a nail-biting finish. It took the fastest pilot Uli Schwenk of Germany 1 hour 54 minutes 13 seconds to complete the course with Steve Jones (GBR) just one second behind him, and third place Petr Krejcirik (CZE) a further 21 seconds behind him.

Schwenk was delighted with his win and route decision, “I made some good course choices and was able to climb at a key point in the course, south of the Dingle range. This allowed me to maintain the much needed altitude giving me extra speed for the descent to the finish line. It was an exciting race and I am very much looking forward to the next five days of flying,” he said.

With unsettled weather early in the day the pilots were apprehensive about the flying conditions. A bold early move by Mark Holliday (SA) and Michael Sommer (GER) gave them the lead for a substantial duration of the race with the remainder of the field catching up after the second turn point.

Task director Gavin Wills, responsible for setting the course, said it was a challenging first race with the results dependent on crucial route decisions. The lead pilots were continuously switching positions and a strong easterly on the second leg made it tricky to rise above the mountain ranges. Erwin Sommer (GER) succumbed to this easterly and landed out mid-race.

Using the latest TV filming technology spectators around the world were able to watch the race live or delayed on the internet, following the glider’s paths, speeds and altitude and also benefiting from the live commentary that provided viewers a fascinating insight into the tactics, decisions and consequences of each competitor.
Viewers can sign up through free of charge for the low resolution service or can pay a small cost (US$6.99) to enjoy the coverage at full resolution with the ability to revisit and enjoy the highlights. Subscription discounts will apply to multi-day full resolution packages.

The six days of intense, high speed competition continues tomorrow. For full results and images, visit