Sky Racing: Competitive Paragliding With the World’s Best


(slow piano music) – You gotta be a certain type of person to get into flying without an engine. (bouncy, upbeat music) The fact that we’re able
to leave the ground, leave everything behind,
and fly through the skies on nylon and strings, is exceptional. (bouncy piano music) The Rat Race is a seven day
long paragliding competition with 200 participants, that also serves as the U.S. National
Paragliding Championship. (wind rumbling) My name is Nick Greece. I’m a professional paraglider pilot. A paragliding race is very
similar to a sailboat race. They race around buoys. We race around several
different GPS coordinates that we have to hit along the way. Each morning, the race course is determined by the weather for that day,
and a course typically ranges from 40 to 70 miles long. The first person to finish
the course every day gets 1,000 points. If someone’s five seconds
back, they get 995 and so on and so forth. And then at seven days, you
add up all your scores together and whoever has the most points wins. I grew up in Long Island in a
suburb close to New York City. I went to Beloit College in Wisconsin, and after that I returned to Manhattan to take a job at a PR firm. My second day at work
was September 11th, 2001, so I was walking to work
and I saw the first plane hit the World Trade
Center from the street. I don’t know if that
played a significant role, but it played some role in me deciding that I needed to do
something sooner than later if I wasn’t completely
satisfied with what I was doing. So I sold all my possessions
and lived out of my car, and all I did was fly. I’ve dedicated my life since
2001 to flying paragliders. For many years I’ve been one
of the top pilots in the U.S., and that to me is a sign of success. Watching the start of a paragliding race is a sight to behold. 100 pilots launching off
a hill and then getting up into the starting paddock,
which is what we call a gaggle. The start, it can be a chaotic experience of people that are
trying to get to the top so that they’re in the best position, so everybody jockeying for position. Once that starts, it’s
just a glorious experience of rallying through mountain
ranges for a whole day with your friends. After seven days, you’re pretty exhausted, but that’s also the real joy in doing any kind of endurance event. Just like with anything,
whether you’re trading stocks or riding bikes, or flying paragliders, you’re always trying to make progress and increase your ability to succeed. And paragliding competition
is a beautiful example of pitting your skills, not
only against your competitors, but against the elements. (lively, bouncy music) (chiming)

34 thoughts on “Sky Racing: Competitive Paragliding With the World’s Best

  1. Hey! Nice vid, I'd like to try that too. Is it possible to get a reply, I heard if u came early you'd get one……

  2. Can you IMAGINE for even a second what that must feel. To spend an entire week of your life in a beautiful location, building yourself, improving your skills, being in the sky above a gorgeous scenic background, all the while laying down and controlling your flying movements with a complicated but almost simple contraption.

    A dream, that is most likely full of it's pains and challenges, these many people are living. Hope we can all reach those heights physically and mentally.

  3. That's such a good story. It's like a fictional novel. He sells all his stuff, is in the low living in his car, and finds something magical which is paragliding, and eventually created like a school or camp for everyone to experience the magic

  4. Russia & China will soon invade US Canada Europeans.
    Prepare your best AR rifle to fight or regret forever.
    No one will protect you. Power outage, no phone, no alarm, gun will work.

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