Laurieton resident Richard Oakey has competed in one of the most exciting paramotor races in the world called Icarus X Australia.
Only one person completed the 341 kilometre two-day course around NSW due to hazardous, strong winds on the second day.
In the lead up to the event Richard said he was feeling a bit apprehensive as it’s a challenging race and one where the weather can either make or break a competitor’s journey.
Participants started their journey on November 10 from Gloucester Airfield.They raced inland towards checkpoint one at Walcha Airport. Richard said everyone except one participant (announced as the winner) failed to complete the course which finished in Gloucester on November 12.
The event was split into two divisions. There was one for the more experienced pilots, who raced for glory and an adventure division for the less seasoned racer.
Richard competed in the experience pilot division even though he only took up the sport in January.
During the race Richard expected to reach heights of up to 5000 metres above sea level. He said the isolation during the race can be ‘nerve-racking’ but it is also part of the adventure.
While he didn’t complete the course Richard said it provided a great learning experience.
As an ex-skydiver Richard said education was a huge part of preparing for the race in terms of what’s safe or not.
Competitors carried their own food, clothes, a way to sleep and basic parts to fix their paramotors.
Richard said the lighter participants packed the better because weight can impact how quickly people fly the course. He packed items including motor oil, three litres of water, muesli bars and warm clothes.
The event can be quite dangerous as Richard said people had to plan for weather, traffic, fuel stops and compulsory stays.
Richard learnt about paramotors during a course by Laurieton resident David Wainwright.
Mr Wainwright is the current Australian Paramotoring Champion (2015 and 2016) and two-time winner of the Endurance Adventure Paramotor Race – The Icarus Trophy which is held in the US (2015 and 2016).
“He’s been a fantastic mentor,” Richard said.
The organisers tracked each of the participants while they flew the course. Each person was provided with an SOS tracker and were sent specialised weather reports.
The winner of the race class received free entry into the Icarus Trophy which has been labelled as the ‘mother of all aerial adventures in 2018’. The entry fee is $2,200.
Eighteen people registered for the Icarus X Australia.
Richard quit his job in May and practiced everyday in the lead up to the event. He went to Bali earlier this year for an international course with Mr Wainwright.
Richard is now preparing to take on the Paramotor World Championship in May in Thailand.