Travel

Yeppoon to host paraflying champs

Rosslyn Bay paraflyer Shane Towers-Hammond taking off, just as he says the Capricorn Coast will if it holds the 2013 Australian Paraflying Championships.
Rosslyn Bay paraflyer Shane Towers-Hammond taking off, just as he says the Capricorn Coast will if it holds the 2013 Australian Paraflying Championships. Barry Leddicoat

YEPPOON and the Capricorn Coast is poised to go on the international map with plans to host the 2013 Australian Paraflying Championships there.

Paraflying is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and Jean Luc Lejaille, one of Australia's most experienced instructors, said the potential for international tourism is enormous.

Rosslyn Bay paraflyer Shane Towers-Hammond said the conditions in Yeppoon were unsurpassed anywhere in Australia.

"I'd love to see the Australian Championships here," he said.

Each year, up to 1000 northern hemisphere flyers visit Rainbow Beach, where Jean Luc is based, and stay for one or two weeks.

Jean Luc, a French Moroccan, moved to Australia in 1982 and began teaching paragliding and paramotoring 17 years ago.

"We are air surfers … we surf the rising air and try to beat the laws of gravity," he said.

Jean Luc said fear of falling was an inbuilt survival mechanism, but paraflying was a constant upward pressure.

"When you fly, you don't feel the fear of falling. Your subconscious tells you its okay.

With 7000 take-offs and landings under his wings, Jean Luc said paraflying could put Yeppoon on the international map forever.

"Yeppoon is a flyers' paradise, with a geography that creates its own weather.

"You can fly off every headland, it's beautiful," he said.

Half a million paraflyers around the world included 100,000 in England, France and Germany but there are still only 1500 in Australia.

"The next step is to formalise the Capricorn Paraflyers Club with the Council and National Parks.

"At the moment we can fly because there are no rules against it, but once it's formalised, then it's secure," he said.

Mr Towers-Hammond, an avid paramotor enthusiast, said he could take off from Rosslyn Bay where he lived, fly to Five Rocks, about 40km up the coast, with his fishing rod, land on the beach, catch a fish and be home with his fish cooking before a 4WD had even reached Five Rocks.

"At 200 feet above the water and pelicans flying with us, there's no better feeling."

Mr Towers-Hammond said the Capricorn Paraflyers Club had almost 20 qualified flyers, all because of the exceptional instruction of Jean Luc Lejaille, who planned to base himself in Yeppoon each winter.

GETTING SET UP

  • Need to be at least 14-years-old.
  • Cost including licence and aircraft is under $3500 for secondhand or $5000 for new
  • License training takes eight full days
  • Tandem flights are available for $150 for 20-30 minutes.

More information phone Jean Luc on 0418 754 157



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