By Rob Cottingham
Tyler Borradaile began to feel butterflies as he drove up the mountain.
It wasn’t the hairpin curves and the sight of a dizzying drop just a few feet outside the vehicle. Rather, it was the anticipation of competing in the Canadian National Hang-Gliding Championships.
He’d soon hurl himself off that mountain into open, gaping space, where columns of warm, rising air called thermals can lift a pilot a thousand feet in one minute. It was something he’d done many times before, but this time a national title was on the line.
Borradaile, a 34-yearold Sales Associate with RE/MAX Kelowna in British Columbia, took his first hang-gliding flight at the age of 3, fastened securely to his father, George, one of the sport’s Canadian pioneers. His dad still cheers him on.
Another big supporter is RE/MAX Kelowna Broker/Owner Cliff Shillington. When Borradaile hauled his hang-gliding gear out of storage six years ago, Shillington encouraged his agent to jump back into competition – and even sponsored him.
Now, Borradaile soars through the air with the RE/MAX logo emblazoned across his wing.
“It was the talk of the Nationals,” he says of the iconic logo.
The 2012 Canadian Nationals, held in August in Golden, British Columbia, took place over six days,
with task distances ranging from 25 to 60 miles.
The tournament’s final day began the same way the previous days had. Borradaile woke up early and sent as many RE/MAX emails as he could before driving the winding mountain road up to the Mount 7 free-flight area, where he meticulously assembled his hang glider.
“This is when you can make a mistake that could injure you later,” he says.
Next he checked air conditions and plotted his route and destination altitudes into his GPS. With nerves on high alert, Borradaile donned his harness, a sun-shielding balaclava and his helmet. Grasping the control bar and lifting the glider for flight, he felt a familiar sense of calm confidence wash over him. He watched the other pilots, picked his moment and launched himself into the alpine air. When he landed at the race goal, 26 miles away, Borradaile had clinched the national title.
Shillington was “over the moon” about the victory, Borradaile says, and will continue to sponsor him at the world championships in Forbes, Australia, in January. RE/MAX of Western Canada will help out as well.
“I’m thrilled to represent Canada and RE/MAX in the world championships,” says Borradaile, who joined RE/MAX in 2006. “Hang gliding has been in my blood since I was a toddler, and I’ve worked very hard to do it well.”
Scoring a hang-gliding competition
- Hang-gliding competitions center around a task – a route that starts with a launch, includes two or more turn points (including a speed section) and an end goal.
- Most competitions take place over several days to account for weather conditions and reward the most consistent performances.
- Pilots carry a GPS locator that constantly logs their position throughout a flight.
- Each task is worth a maximum of 1,000 points (less difficult tasks earn fewer) with bonus points for how quickly a pilot launches and the order in which goals are reached.
- Satellite technology and custom software help determine the winner. Organizer predictions of how many pilots will complete the course, the range of times and the course’s overall difficulty are all factored into the final scores.