Hang glider pilot Jonny Durand has never won a Pre World Championship before but after claiming his fifth win from six events this season at the Brazilian Nationals the past week, the Australian champ is in prime position to win one of only two titles that have eluded him.
Better yet, the Pre Worlds - held alternately with the World Championships as a rehearsal of sorts - will be contested from this weekend over the very same airspace he just emerged victorious from.
More than 100 of the world’s best will descend on the famed Brasilia airspace, renowned as one of the best hang-gliding locations in the world, Jonny facing off against long-time foes in an effort to finally shake the bridesmaid's tag at the second biggest contest in international hang-gliding. But he’s got form and experience on his side, having won all but one contest he’s contested this year and with more than 20 events to his name at the very same Brasilia location.
“The Nationals were an ideal warm-up - I’ve never won the Pre Worlds but finished second a few years back,” Jonny says.
“Apart from the locals, I’m probably more experienced at that place than anyone. This will be 22 times I’ve flown there. I’ve had 20 odd weeks of flying in that spot which is probably more than anywhere else I’ve ever flow in the world.
“It’s basically my own backyard.”
Winning the Nationals was no easy feat in itself, the win up in the air - pun not intended but appreciated - up until the final hours of day seven. Poor conditions saw shortened tasks and limited hours in the air, calling on pilots to rely more heavily than ever on their skill and weather knowledge. And lucky for Jonny, he’d just spent two weeks with The Weather Channel in Texas for his Chasing Thermals project and got to brush up on his already impressive meteorology know-how.
The Pre Worlds get under way with practice on August 27 with the first of seven competition days to commence Monday AEST.