The open distance paragliding world record has been smashed in Brazil, with three pilots flying a record 564km from Araruna, north east Brazil, on Thursday 13 October 2016.
Samuel Nascimento, Rafael Saladini and Donizete Lemos flew the record flight together, flying as a gaggle and helping each other all the way. The flight lasted more than 11 hours.
The flight is more than 50km longer than the previous world record, which was set this time last year from the same site.
Then, Frank Brown, Donizete Lemos and Marcelo Prieto flew 513km on 9 October 2015. They launched from Araruna at 6.20am and spent the next 11 hours in the air, flying together for most of the way.
On that day in 2015 Rafael Saladini also launched but bombed out after 15km – which will no doubt have made his record flight this year all the sweeter.
This year the pilots also took off from Araruna. Most had been there for ten days already, and it was their first record attempt of the season. Araruna is also known as Tacima – both are towns close by to the launch site, but the town of Araruna is helping to develop the site, so local pilots have asked we call it Araruna. The take-off site is the same.
“The day was actually a surprise. It was raining in the morning on the day before and the wind was really strong,” explained Saladini. “The region is facing a crazy influence from Mathew Hurricane and the La Niña effect… combined with a very dry terrain as a result of two years of El Niño, so we were not so confident because of the risk of getting low with very strong wind, especially close to the plateau (100 km from take off) where the wind picks up. But when we got to take off, it actually looked good and we took off.”
Frank Brown and Marcelo Prieto took off with the rest of the team at around 6am to avoid the strong wind, but they only left the ridge at around 7h15. Marcelo Prieto bombed out right at the beginning of the flight and the same happened to Frank Brown not long after.
Flying at the same time and from the same site, hang glider pilots Glauco Pinto and Andre Wolf took off a little bit later than the paraglider pilots, at 7am, and flew further than 600km – they set a new world record for declared goal at 607km and a new South American open distance record at 612km. The hang gliding world record stands at 761km, set in 2012 in Texas.
Posting on Facebook Andre Wolf said: “Yesterday was a special day in my life. Taking off from Tacima with my friend Glauco Pinto we launched at 7.15am and landed at 5.35pm. We flew practically the whole flight together, side by side, which helped us both fly faster.”
He added: “Today was a historic day for free flight. Donizete, Rafa and Samuel broke the paragliding world record at 564km. I thank them for their friendship and their huge knowledge.”
“I am currently in Quixada, still taking in the emotion, energy and adrenaline from being part of this special day.”
If you want to fly a really long way in Brazil, Araruna in October is now the most reliable place to do it.
All the 500km world record flights in Brazil have been flown from Araruna, a relatively low site in the north east of the country.
The discovery of Araruna is the result of 20 years of exploration by a core group of big-distance pilots in Brazil.
Rafael Saladini explained the discovery of Tacima in Cross Country magazine last year:
“The flying has been migrating,” he said, “for example, the first pilots to fly in the north-east here started in Sobral, a city in [the state of] Ceara.
“But any world record flown from there would reach the pre-Amazon forest, so they decided to come further east, and they discovered Quixada. When they discovered Quixada everybody started to fly from there.”
Quixada is from where, on 14 November 2007 Marcelo, Frank and Rafael flew together to set a new paragliding world record at 461.6km. The site is now firmly established on the international XC map, somewhere big distance hunters go if they want to set a personal best: fly 300km, go for 400km, or chase world records.
“After we broke the record together in 2007, we started to explore further east,” continued Rafael.
To fly 500km you need an average speed of 50km/h, so a consistent average tailwind of say, 30km/h.
“Taking off from Araruna it means the whole 500km is inside the drylands,” said Rafael. “You don’t have to face the pre-Amazon forest where the wind becomes much slower.
“The reason to come east to Araruna is to optimise the 11 hours of our flying day. Now we have 11 complete hours of flying inside the drylands of Brazil.”
More on this amazing day in the next issue of Cross Country magazine, issue 176.
Additional reporting by Elisa Eisenlohr