Wednesday, January 09, 2013

McCaw soars over home turf
 The Multi-Class National Gliding Championships in Omarama took off on Thursday and welcomed back a special club member.

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw made time for his other love away from rugby, taking to the skies in a club craft.

Flying is in McCaw's DNA - his grandfather was a fighter pilot in World War II and his father, Don, is also a keen glider.

McCaw senior spent the afternoon in a tow-plane taking other pilots up while his famous son soared over the valleys, eventually gently touching down in the late afternoon.

The 32-year-old grew up 50km from Omarama at the family farm in the Hakataramea Valley and said he was pleased to be back and is intent on quenching his thirst for gliding over the coming weeks.

"I'm trying to get my fix of gliding time in January.

"It's always really nice to come back here for a few weeks," he said.

"It's a really nice community. Our family farm is close by so I look forward to coming back."

"My dad loves gliding and I've got a couple of cousins here too so it's been a lot of fun. Oamaru was the closest town (growing up) and it's a great area."

The Crusaders star hasn't entered his own personal glider in the competition but is sharing a club craft with four others in team Omarama.

Contest director Ralph Henderson said it was good to have the World Cup winner back.

"He's a good bloke and it's great to have him around.

"The family offer a lot.

"When Richie's here he's a glider pilot and a club member and he enjoys it like everybody else."

All 30 competitors made it around the course on Thursday but some tricky weather forced five competitors to land early on Friday, three in Wanaka and Pukaki, while two others turned back to Omarama prematurely.

The contest was rained off on Saturday but resumed yesterday.


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