Cromwell residents were treated to daredevil moves and heart-stopping moments above Lake Dunstan at the weekend.
A small but brave group of paragliders put their skills the test in aerobatic paragliding competition Acrofest’22.
Towed behind a boat to an altitude of about 1000m, the experienced and licensed paragliders would then release themselves from the rope before performing as many tricks and manoeuvres as possible.
Competitors could land in a designated landing zone on the lake shore, or for extra points, on an inflatable raft.
The key was to stay on the raft.
Organiser Ben Kellet said while Acrofest was competitive, it was also an opportunity to bring the paragliding community together and have fun.
“It’s a competition event that’s aimed for everyone to sort of have a good time paragliding and doing aerobatic manoeuvres safely over the lake.”
Acrofest started about 20 years ago and after a hiatus, was relaunched in Cromwell last year, he said.
“There was a long period where it didn’t happen just for lack of motivation and it’s difficult, but we’ve fired it up again the last two years and keeping the tradition going, and it’s been pretty fun.”
Lake Dunstan was the perfect location due to the stable weather conditions in the area.
“The wind tends to be lighter than it is on the other lakes .. at Lake Wakatipu we’ve got to contend with controlled air space and Wanaka is windier.”
Organiser Nico Sand said the challenge the competition presented appealed to people.
“People try to do aerobatic manoeuvres the kind of tricks where the paraglider flips, flying over the glider, stuff like that as best as they can and there are judges on the ground scoring and giving them points whether they do well, or not so well.”
It was a standalone competition, and the organisers had created a scoring system based on the international one.
“It’s mostly a fun event challenge of it.”
Covid-19 meant a small event this year, but the organisers were looking forwards to a larger one next year.
Georges Millet took out the event’s top spot.