Aussie couple win balloon grand prix

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A husband and wife duo from Australia will go into the World Hot Air Balloon Championships full of confidence after winning the Japanese Grand Prix over the weekend.

Matthew and Nicola Scaife claimed victory, despite only being in second place going into the final leg of the five-event grand prix, run throughout the year across Japan.

Nicola, the current women’s world champion, flew one of the five events earlier this year with husband and current Australian champion, Matthew, flying the other four.

‘We couldn’t be happier with the result,’ said Matthew, who outflew the current world champion, Yudai Fujita, in the final leg to claim victory.

‘Not only is it great to win, it has also given us both a great amount of confidence going into the World Championships,’ he said.

The success will give the Australian team added momentum heading into the 22nd FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championships being held this week.

‘The Australian balloon team will be the biggest and best yet,’ said the Australian Ballooning Federation (ABF). ‘It’s Australia’s best chance to win the championship since we won back in 1983.’

‘All up there will be 16 team members, complete with independent wind-reading team, a photographer, a social media/tech support guru, a team manager and crew members for each balloon,’ said the ABF.

Australia’s contingent will also be armed with the latest in navigational software— touted as hot air ballooning’s equivalent of the winged keel that won the America’s Cup for Australia II in 1983.

The World Championships will run over the next week, with competition finishing on Monday 7 November.

You can follow Australia’s progress via the team’s Facebook page.

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