Back on the world stage

High flyer: Queenstown paraglider Louis Tapper’s half way through a paragliding trip to compete on the world circuit

Queenstown paraglider Louis Tapper’s on his way to Macedonia this week to compete in a Paragliding World Cup event.

So far, the adventurer’s taken part in five competitions, across Brazil, France, Austria and Romania.

In Brazil he competed in a Paragliding World Cup event and a Pan American competition, then a pre-world championship and the French Open in France, the Alpen Cup in Austria, and finally another world cup event in Romania.

It’s the first time Tapper’s competed on the world stage since before Covid — he’s ranked second in Australasia and 200th in the world at present.

‘‘[It’s a] big jump between New Zealand level and international level but [I’m] managing some good task finishes at top-level competition, [and I] have a few top-10 finishes, which is really good,’’ Tapper says.

A highlight since he left New Zealand in March has been a French competition where they had a 166km task — one of the longest they’ve ever had.

‘‘I was one of five to actually finish, and the four were either ex-world champions, or world no.1s.’’

Tapper’s game plan for Macedonia is to ‘‘fly as best I can’’.

‘‘It’s a site that I know and I’ve been to for the world champs so it’s the fourth time I’ve been there, it’s a mix of flatlands and hills,’’ he says.

Tapper also acknowledges last month’s tragic death of Kiwi paraglider Charlotte O’Leary, who was to have spent the winter working in Queenstown, last month, and the plight of seriously-injured fellow Queenstown paraglider Nick Neynens.

‘‘Our thoughts are with the family of Charlotte, and also Nick, with his recovery.

‘‘It can be an unforgiving sport at times, but you know, we love doing it and we try to do the most that we can to try and be safe.

‘‘The choices that we make before we fly and while we fly are key to that,’’ Tapper says.

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