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Drones offer new surf dimension

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Mount Maunganui’s scenic splendors and surf lifesaving action will be on full display at this weekend’s Eastern Region surf lifesaving championships, thanks to a fleet of drones.

In a New Zealand first, the drones will live-stream coverage of the on-water action back to the beach, showcasing more than 1000 athletes taking part and supplying footage for television networks.

Click the image above to watch the video

Aerial drones will be used to capture footage at this weekend’s Eastern Region surf lifesaving championships at Mount Maunganui’s Main Beach. Photo: Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media Services. Video Footage of the 40th Japan National Lifesaving Championships by Yuhki Endoh (Airfleet).

Napier company Altus UAS is overseeing the project, enabling spectators and the general public to see exactly what’s happening out on the water.

“Surf lifesaving is such an incredibly dynamic sport,” explains Altus spokesman Simon Morris, “but a lot of that action and drama happens out in the wave zone and beyond.

“We’ve done a lot of filming work over water and that certainly doesn’t hold any fears for us, but we are really looking forward to showcasing the athletes and the amazing skills they need out there.”

The championships are the second-largest on the surf lifesaving calendar behind the national championships, and are returning to Mount Maunganui after a two-year absence.

Event director Scott Bicknell says the drone fleet is one of several new initiatives at this year’s event.

“The championships have been running for 52 years and have so much history and meaning in the surf lifesaving fraternity,” says Scott.

“It doesn’t mean they can’t move with the times, however.  What we’re trying to do is create a memorable event for athletes, as well as help the public comprehend why surf sports are so vital to the wider surf lifesaving movement.”

The initiatives include a central hub with a mini surf lifesaving expo, while Bicknell has also tweaked the beach-based sprinting events so they have a late-afternoon carnival atmosphere.

With another sublime weather forecast, the Mount Maunganui waves are also coming to the party, with a 1.5-2m swell and ideal offshore winds predicted for both days.

Drone footage is starting to creep in overseas and the Altus team have covered motorsports and track days previously, although they’re looking forward to seeing what their craft can do at the Mount.

“We design and manufacture all our own drones, ensuring they’re tough enough for the harshest conditions and safe enough to fly in the strongest winds and rain,” says Simon.

“Flying over ocean waves is certainly a good test, with the tricky winds and salt spray, but this is a great way of testing what our limits for this sort of work are.”

The championships start at 8am on Saturday and finish on Sunday afternoon, with the club-based Super 9 carnival to follow at the same venue on Monday.

The Super 9 pits New Zealand’s best clubs against each other in an invitation-only event, to see who has the best athletes throughout a range of age groups and disciplines.

To check out Altus UAS’ aerial photos on their Facebook page, click here.

Comments on SunLive


Posted on 28-01-2015 09:51 | By Wise Chief

VTOL applies when taking off and landing and superglider mode for very fast sleek glide-flight after converting via magnus shift to linear flight. Craft dimpled all over to make it superslick (see mythbusters or KPeds atomiser tech). Thus CAA very low Reynold numbers requiring minimal pedal or electric motor thrust energy to travel long distances in quick time. Also can’t drop out of sky like existing aircraft, thus super safe to fly for the Grandma, Mum and Kids too.So whats your beef CAA Regs. I guess you only knowledgeable about fix winged aircraft and rotary bladed propeller stuff? Why don’t you make one better to impress us all if you know so much about this drone-ultralight stuff or are you the guy who crashed Microlight in harbour a couple of years back and still angry at the world because of it? At least this craft will help cut emissions.

CAA Regs.....

Posted on 22-01-2015 19:33 | By GreertonCynic

Aren’t you supposed to keep UAVs away from people? Wisechief, vtol is not a glider.


Posted on 22-01-2015 08:06 | By Wise Chief

Don’t ya just love these Drones which are taking all the dangerous often death causing hard work out of many once very risky daily pursuits. There use in agri-hort-viticulture etc is exploding worldwide. Better wake up fast Kiwi’s or get left in the dust or other developers will take markets and contracts now on offer worldwide. Don’t listen to your risk averse accountants and timid feckless advisor’s with zero knowledge of the industry. I am advising building of new vtol super-glider 100 kg carrying heavy lifter extreme range 2000 klm ++ round trip jobee which will fly at 100 ft above ground and sea & can really really move on out. After trialing overseas likely OZ We will mass produce low cost pedal solar versions for mass transport.Pity gov-banks-ect don’t support such efforts towards keeping jobs here but like Martin Jets Pak usually force into foreign hands.

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