Rising to the Challenge to become biggest balloon event in the Southern Hemisphere

The kiwi and heart balloons were stars of the Cabonne Country Balloon Glow.

The kiwi and heart balloons were stars of the Cabonne Country Balloon Glow.

Canowindra's International Balloon Challenge can now lay claim to being the biggest ballooning event in the southern hemisphere.

Deputy Director of the event Adam Barrow said in terms of balloons flying the Canowindra Challenge is now the biggest, although in terms of crowds at a balloon glow that title remains in New Zealand where a glow attracts a crowd of 70,000.

French balloon pilot Clement Seigeot took out the competition, ahead of Dominic Bareford from Great Britain and Australian Peter Wright.

"The weather was just unbelievable," Mr Barrow said of the event which also gave Australian pilots the opportunity to test out their skills against the best in the world.

"We had 17 available flying spots for the week and got 16 which for an event which is really weather dependent, top notch.

"We just had a really amazing week of weather, once you get that everything else falls into place."

In terms of future changes to the event Mr Barrow said nothing new is currently on the horizon.

"We've made a couple of changes in the past two years," he said in reference to basing the Challenge from the Canowindra Showground and holding competition flying in the mornings.

"The showground was full of camper vans, caravans and campers, to have those people right on top of it all was really great," he said.

"And to have the competition flying in the morning, when the weather is usually at its best meant that the pilots could then fly with their crews in the afternoon.

"Balloon pilots are a little like Formula One drivers who are in the car on their own with crews on the ground."

Mr Barrow also recognised the economic benefits of the Challenge.

"Cowra, Orange and Canowindra all benefit," he said.

"Walking around Canowindra shopkeepers were saying on the weekend it was the biggest weekend of trading some of them had had since opening.

"It is so important for the local economy, especially after such a hard summer and the drought," he said.

Competition tasks included the key grab, the Hesitation Waltz, Hare and Hounds and Watership Down.

Thousands then attended the Cabonne Country Balloon Glow which was held at the Canowindra Showground last Saturday evening.

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