Origin contest takes flight

Get higher and higher: Paragliders take off from Mt Borah during the annual State of Origin event staged in Manilla across three days of the Easter period.

Get higher and higher: Paragliders take off from Mt Borah during the annual State of Origin event staged in Manilla across three days of the Easter period.

State of Origin is just not restricted to rugby league.

Is it a bird: Or a plane, no, it is the field of paragliders, who took to the skies from Mt Borah in Manilla for the annual State of Origin challenge.

Is it a bird: Or a plane, no, it is the field of paragliders, who took to the skies from Mt Borah in Manilla for the annual State of Origin challenge.

Manilla’s Mt Borah was the launching pad for the annual Paragliding State of Origin competition held across the Easter break.

Picture perfect: Blue skies greeted pilots representing New South Wales, Queensland and the World Barbarians at Mt Borah across three days of top-drawer action.

Picture perfect: Blue skies greeted pilots representing New South Wales, Queensland and the World Barbarians at Mt Borah across three days of top-drawer action.

More than 200 pilots took to the skies for the annual event, which features traditional rivals New South Wales and Queensland squaring-off.

But the beauty of this sport is you can have a third challenger for the title and in this case the World Barbarians took on the Cockroaches and Canetoads.

Sky high: Forget a Jigsaw puzzle, how about this shot of the paragliders within close range of one another during the annual State of Origin competition.

Sky high: Forget a Jigsaw puzzle, how about this shot of the paragliders within close range of one another during the annual State of Origin competition.

The World Barbarians went into this year’s edition as defending champion with its line-up consisting of pilots from other states of Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France and Great Britain.

Event spokesperson Godfrey Wenness declared the race for the coveted trophy was a close one.

“Queensland pipped us (NSW) at the post and broke a five-year losing streak,” Wenness said.

“The title is decided on average score and Queensland’s 35-member team had an average of 189 points, from NSW on 175 and the World Barbarians came in third on 109.”

Wenness, who is closing in on 30 years competing in paragliding, said conditions assisted a successful staging of the tournament.

“The weather was excellent for all three days,” he said.

“The cross-country flying conditions were mild due to a later than usual Easter and it especially suited the novice pilots.

“With well-over 800 flights taking place there was not one accident.

“Given the light winds across the region and the event mainly aimed at novice and intermediate pilots, the distances were not the usual high kilometres the top pilots fly in mid-summer.”

Even so, there were a number of pilots who covered plenty of territory as Wenness added.

“This year they flew mostly north and east from Mt Borah, as far as Bingara and Warialda, and across to Armidale and Uralla in the tablelands,” he said.

Despite the mercury climbing into the mid-20s throughout, the beanies and woollens packed were required by the pilots, with the temperature in the skies (at 9000 feet) sitting around 2-3 degrees.

A former world-record holder, Wenness has paraglided in various locations across the globe, but declared Manilla and the North West region as the best.

“That’s why I’m here, Manilla is relatively flat and safe,” he said.

“It is also why we get so many pilots from around the world each year.”

Queensland’s Matt Luthi was the sports class winner, with Graham Rose (ACT) the fun class victor and Tim Marshall (NSW) rounding out the top three.

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