Local boys Anton Kerr and Matt Rice competed in the Australian Hot Air Balloon Championships held in Mudgee two weeks ago. The boys goal was to crack the top 10, a feat that they thought would be difficult considering most of the top ten fly balloons for a living and half are ranked on the world stage.
They not only surprised themselves but also the other competitors when they finished in fourth spot.
The competition is a game of precision, flying as close to the targets as possible and dropping a marker.
“It is a week of flying and the points are progressive. The team with the most points at the end of the week wins,” explains Anton.
Anton is the pilot of the balloon and flew beautifully all week only really missing one target during the whole competition. Matt is the chief crewmen, who gets the balloon off the ground at speed, tells Anton when it is safe to climb or descend, races to the next target and relays the wind direction information. Both have been working on their strategy since competing in the last Australian titles in Perth two years ago,where they finished 14th.
All of the top ten compete with a special racing balloon which is slightly smaller and thinner than the average balloon. This allows for more manoeuvrability.
What makes this a special result said Matt is that “Anton did it in a slower, fat commercial balloon, and with software we got off the free app store, the other competitors have racers and software worth thousands of dollars”.
The “Flying Lemmings” a large team of young competitors from the Yarra Valley have dubbed the boys “Team Canowindra” and the boys have now made the Australian Team to represent the country in next year’s World Championships in Slovenia, September 2020.
The next step for the Team is to build/ buy a racing balloon to compete for Australia and to start hitting the sky’s and get training.
The team are looking for a major sponsor or to sell advertising panels to go around the bottom of their new balloon, to help fund the operation. The Racer will be flying and seen in places such as Perth, Canberra, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley, Slovenia and all over the Central West.
Any persons or businesses interested in getting their name or business logo on the balloon can contact Matt on 0458 787 822.