Soaring to success: Australian female pilot wins bronze at Paragliding World Cup

A Canberra paragliding pilot has flown sky high for Australia and women in her sport, coming third in the Women’s Superfinal at the 2018-19 Paragliding World Cup, held recently in Brazil.


Kari Ellis, 37, who has been flying for 10 years and currently FAI World number 7 in the female category, is an incredible role model for women in sport – showcasing that skill, passion and perseverance can see you soaring to success.

Once seen as a male dominated sport, Kari is one of many Australian female pilots who are positively changing the dynamics of the sport.

“The event had five of Australia’s most accomplished pilots from the Australian squad competing against 130 world-class pilots from 29 nations,” said Kari.

This incredible, world-renowned competition provided 10 days of aerial racing in the Baixo Guandu, on the east coast of Brazil from March 19-30.

The region is famous for its Jurassic-style landscape - massive black granite monoliths rising up out of Brazil’s humid green jungle, with wide rivers coloured by the electric orange earth winding amongst them.

“Alongside the World Championships, the Superfinal is the pinnacle of international ‘race to goal’ Paragliding competitions. The quality of the field and sheer speed of racing this year proved extraordinary,” said Kari

“With light winds, strong conditions and clouds marking climbs each day, the gaggle averaged break neck speeds of up to 45km/h around 100km tasks, with the top 50 to 100 pilots raining into goal within minutes of each other every day. Racing Paragliders really doesn’t get any better.

“Our Aussie team represented well, with Felipe Rezende in 31st place (FLOW Spectra), Wally Arcidiacono in 70th (GIN Boomerang11), Gareth Carter in 77th (OZONE Enzo3) and Peter Slade in 91st (FLOW Spectra).

“As always, the team greatly appreciated the support of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia, as well as our friends within the pilot community and our families. A heart felt thank you to all. Next stop for us is the World Championships in Kruschevo, Macedonia in August 2019 - and we are definitely pumped. Bring it on.”

Hang Gliding Federation of Australia President, Paul Green said he was delighted with the performance of our team and Kari in particular.

“Kari is one of a growing number of quality, Australian based, women pilots who are changing the face of our sport. She is the reigning Women’s World Champion sliver medallist and it’s great to see her flying into form ahead of the 2019 World’s later this year,” he said.

Australian Paragliding Squad Manager, David Snowden said Australia has seen the national ranking surge ahead in recent years with new drive and initiatives from the Australian Paragliding Squad.

“We’ve jumped to 8th from 38th four years ago. That is due to our pilots pushing hard at international events and developing world-class competition platforms on home soil,” said David.

“Paragliding is an equal opportunities sport, women compete equally with men - there's no advantage in physique. At this level, it's still a physical stamina sport but very orientated towards tactical flying, working the sky efficiently with speed and conviction and correct decision processing to make goal quickly.

“Kari and all the ladies prove this in flight - in one of the ten tasks women placed 1st and 2nd overall. We are proud Kari made podium amongst women and 59th overall is a great achievement.

“We are very proud of our team’s results at the PWC Superfinal and we’ll be aiming for more individual and team podium places this coming August at the FAI World Championships in Macedonia in August.

“We graciously thank all our supporters whose valued contributions have been instrumental in helping the team achieve these incredible world-class results.”

The top three female winners

  • 1st Place Méryl DELFERRIERE from France
  • 2nd Place: Yael Margelisch from Switzerland
  • 3rd Place: Kari Ellis from Australia

    Results page

blog Kari Ellis  blog Climbing Thermals in Brazil