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PARAWAITING
There is a similar sport in the field of Hang Gliding and most of this article applies
(At Lennox Head it is known as "a day at the beach under the umbrella")


What is parawaiting?

Parawaiting is the easiest form of waiting on a hill that has ever been devised, the dream of mankind come true. All of your equipment fits into a rucksack and allows either a walk up a mountain and walk down or, for the more experienced, cross-country walks of great distances. Contrary to popular belief, there is no jumping at the launch. You begin at the top of a grassy slope and if there is a breeze blowing up the slope that is too strong to fly you just sit and wait. In such conditions you only need to take a couple of steps to find somewhere comfortable to wait. There does not have to be a breeze to wait, it is possible to wait in nil winds too.

Fly like a bird?

If you have ever looked up to watch a bird effortlessly soaring a moment of envy has surely crossed your mind. From the legendary attempts of Icarus and Daedalus, to the incredible designs of Leonardo da Vinci, it has been man's dream to fly free. Through the ingenuity of men like Lillianthal and Rogallo, and in conjunction with high tech materials and computer aided design, free flight has become a reality for all those who live in countries with decent climates. For those that don't there is Parawaiting. With parawaiting you can keep that level of envy sustained for long periods of time as birds seemingly effortlessly soar or fly through the air whilst you are trapped on the ground.

Parawaiting is a true sitting around experience. When parawaiting it is possible to sit for hours and cover no miles at all. The equipment can be easily be packed into a rucksack which makes transportation very easy. This is ideal for trips abroad, although getting to a better climate could lead to paragliding!

This is parawaiting and this is what hundreds of people across the Australia do every weekend.

A Social Sport.

The newest unrecognised sport and one of the fastest growing sports in Australia, parawaiting is a great sport for people of all ages and backgrounds. Its predominantly a social sport but because everyone shares a common aim the stereotypical social barriers are not present. You'll find people of all backgrounds happily talking, telling tales of previous parawaiting experiences, and generally having a good time (this is something many paragliders do already but it is slightly limited in that it usually takes place in the pub after a long days flying and so can be restrictive for those who either travel home or can't visit the pub for other reasons (reformed alcoholics, young children etc.))

The Sport

Very similar to paragliding, parawaiting is much safer, cheaper and easy to master. There are no compulsory exams and no compulsory equipment. Its open to all ages and abilities, to the rich and the poor to men, women and children alike.

Origins

Parawaiting was started in the Australia about the same time as paragliding itself although it has only recently been recognised as a sport in its own right. Parawaiting was originally started by UK Paragliders due to the poor paragliding weather conditions experienced in the UK

Spectator Sport

Parawaiting is much more of a spectator sport than paragliding. The competitors are always within sight of launch and can be approached and chatted to during an event or whilst they are parawaiting socially.

Open to all abilities.

As you can get away without the initial carry up to launch (equipment is not necessary see later) and as there are no chances of carrying up from a bottom landing this sport is available to all, whatever fitness level, young or old, male, female!

What kit do I need?

Unlike paragliding you don't necessarily need any expensive gear. However if you don't buy it you may be mistaken for a hill walker or a casual observer. True Parawaiters kit themselves out with the same gear as Paragliders. You can pick up a second hand paraglider bag from your local school and stuff it with pillows or something else light but bulky to give the impression of a serious parawaiter. Most parawaiters with equipment don't get it out of the bag anyway so no one will know the difference. One piece of kit that most Parawaiters make good use of is a decent sit mat. Good shoes or boots are recommended for walking to the sites although its not an advantage for them to be light weight as in paragliding. You'll also need a warm (and waterproof) jacket, a flask of something warm to drink, some lunch, and either a good book or some friends to talk to. Cameras seem to be a popular piece of kit amongst parawaiters allowing them to take colourful photographs of each other. If its sunny don't forget your sun block!

Note: There is no special wing required for parawaiting, normal paragliders should be used. As with paragliding make sure the wing you use is in good condition and of a performance rating that matches with your experience and ability.

How do I start Parawaiting?

Contact your local paragliding school. Sign yourself up for a course on a day with either too much wind, no wind, wind in the wrong direction, rain or low cloud, snow, hail or sleet or just train on a site that is overcrowded with existing pilots so you have a good excuse to stay on the ground. If the weather is flyable make sure you go to a site where the wind is not blowing straight onto the hill. If its coming over the back its ideal for parawaiting.

Why should I take up parawaiting rather than paragliding?

These sports are complimentary. Very often if its not possible to go parawaiting you'll be able to go paragliding. Also if its not possible to go paragliding you'll be able to parawait.

Where can I parawait?

You can parawait anywhere you want even in your own living room However to do it properly contact your local flying club or school and find out where their sites are. Then just walk up the hill and get comfy!

How do I recognise a parawaiter?

There are 3 basic types of parawaiter, Social, Optimistic and Keen. Although the definitions are not complete there are some basic similarities between all three. Some parawaiters are all three at some stage of the day. Here are some ways of telling what sort of parawaiters are on the hill:

  1. Social: Walk to launch and sits down without taking anything out of their bag (other than their sit mat). Tends to talk about previous experiences but not much about what's happening or going to happen that day. Common phrases "I was sat at launch last week when........".
  2. Optimistic: Walks to launch and unpacks kit. May lay it out and do "pre-flight" checks or may just leave it in a heap. Common phrases are "Has anyone rung Bretto recently?"
  3. Keen: Walks to launch and unpacks kit. Lays it out and does pre-flight checks. Will don helmet and gloves and strap in to harness. If they have a vario they will set alt2 to zero at launch. There are 2 subgroups within the Keenies although there is no distinction by name. The first group will carry out all the above then look for somewhere dry to sit down in their harness (harnesses with back protection are much more luxurious than the sit mats used by Social or Optimistic Parawaiters). The second group complete all the above and then stand in the forward or reverse launch position (depending on wind conditions), occasionally reaching for some grass and throwing it to test the wind speed. Common phrases are "I'll wait until it picks up/dies down a little or until those clouds move over."

Advertising Opportunities.

Because parawaiting is much more of a spectator sport than paragliding advertising through this sport gives a good exposure. The ads themselves are also cheaper as they can be smaller (as the competitors are closer) and can be printed on T-shirts, stickers or badges rather than having to be expensively stuck to the surfaces of the paraglider wing.