Don’t panic, the chances are you’re not going mad if you look to the sky and see little people flying overhead in Walcha this weekend, it’s all part of the final in a world adventure race series.
An international group of paramotor pilots ( people who fly powered paragliders – paramotor is the generic name for the harness and propulsive portion) will be following a stunning 341 kilometre two-day course starting and finishing at Gloucester Airfield via Walcha.
The paramotors will take off on Friday November 10 racing inland towards Checkpoint 1 at Walcha Airfield, then back towards the coast via Wauchope before heading back to finish in Gloucester.
The United Kingdom based organisers of the event have promoted the route as ‘a properly epic and diverse triangle showcasing Australia at its best’.
The event itself is split into two divisions – one for the more experienced pilots, who are racing for glory, and an Adventure Division, for the less seasoned racer who wants to take things at a more ‘leisurely pace’.
Adding to the action, all competitors must carry their own food, clothes, a way to sleep (although if you land near a hotel there’s nothing in the rules against you sleeping in luxury) and basic parts to fix their paramotors should anything go wrong.
The organisers, The Adventurists, do however track the pilot’s course, provide them with an SOS tracker in case of the need for emergency assistance, and send them specialised weather reports.
There’s also a ‘support truck’ which follows the competitors just in case there is a major incident – it will however probably take a while to reach them if they land in the middle of one of our surrounding National Parks or State Forests.
Following hotly contested races in the US and the UK earlier in the year, this event is the final edition of the 2017 Icarus X race series.
The Adventurists’ launched the Icarus X series on the back of the Icarus Trophy, the world’s longest paramotor race, which takes place once a year in the US, motivated by the need for racers to get some practice in.
The X series, which features four shorter-format race events across three continents (two in the US, one in the UK and one in Australia) is now a major event in its own right.
The winner of the race class will get a free entry into the Icarus Trophy in 2018.