How I unexpectedly broke my paragliding distance record

How I unexpectedly broke my paragliding distance record

16 December 2015. I will share my world paragliding distance record story in Australia.

« After a few months thinking about this flight and several days waiting for it, finally I made it happen in the strangest way…

It is 10:30am and I am on tow as everything is flat around, when suddenly the tow line breaks! The tow bridle and drague are still with me, so I fly above the ground crew and drop them. With my remaining altitude I immediately fly to the lee side of a line of trees along the river to do my best to stay in the air, I get a little lift and keep chasing thermals through the cloud shadows.

After three and half hours I have covered just a 100km. The lift is weak and the wind is light. My hope for a new record before I head home starts to vanish. But we are never finished until we touch the ground, so I keep flying with countless low saves on the way. Every time I nail a decent climb I need to be quick and glide to what I think could be the next source of lift. Most of my transitions are ending close to the ground above wild terrain with dust devils surrounding me; I have to stay focused and maintain my energy level.

Suddenly, I notice a slight increase of my average speed and my hope also increases. As I reach the 200km mark, I remember the terrain ahead of me from my first flight together with Seiko and I know that from now on I have to fly higher since the next 200km will be over dense, tall forest, with only a narrow road between trees.

I approach this massive forest keeping an eye on the nice cumulus that are forming above it and bingo! I hit a good thermal, find my line and get into race mode! Full speed, ignoring all climbs below 2.5 m/s and keeping my feelings open to keep track of the wave. GO! GO! GO! I reach 100km/h in the flow between thermals, the dream factory turns on and I get the feeling that this flight could be a big one! My average speed goes to 60kmh, a huge improvement!

I reach the 400km mark and sunset is still far, but conditions start to weaken and I have to choose between following the road on a crosswind path, or fly downwind into the wilderness for more distance. The answer is immediate: fly downwind! I see a few farms on the horizon and I hope to land close to any kind of civilisation. At this time of the day gliding with my Ozone Enzo feels awesome! At 20:30 I finally land on a dirt road between eucalyptus after setting a new World record 3 point free distance of 476km and Australia record free straight distance around 450km! I am so stoked for this crazy flight!

I pack my glider as fast as possible as the sun sinks below the horizon. Darkness finds me walking and a clear sky full of stars join me along the walk. The only thing I can see in this dark night is a never ending road in front of me. Suddenly this peaceful night is broken by an approaching car: « hey young fella do you need a ride? » Yes of course.

This was an outstanding flight with only decent conditions, I can’t imagine flying this place on an epic day. Deniliquin, I am leaving soon but I promise I’ll be back. »


Charles Cazaux - @kzoairlines

Paragliding Pro Pilot

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