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Past Winners Announcement

Hey Willi People,
After intense deliberation and consideration, we’ve come to a big decision. From now on (or at least till we change our minds), Willi winners from the prior year’s Willi will automatically receive free, gratis, absolutely no charge entry to the next year’s Willi so they can defend their title. Call it the “Can You Beat the Willi Again” challenge.
So that means the following winners from 2021 are eligible for free entry to the 2022 Willi: Felix Cantesanu, Chris McQuinn, Stefan Miller, Jonathan Godin, and Mark Damm.
So, if you are one of those name, CONGRATULATIONS!
And if your not on that list of winners, sign up for the 2022 Willi so you can try to make sure those lucky (and good) pilots pay in 2023.

Willi 2021 Update

We apologize for the delay in getting back to everyone about plans for the Willi. As you know, with Covid restrictions and lockdowns, things have been uncertain. As of today, except for essential travel, no one is supposed to be travelling into or within B.C. until at least after May 25. And it looks like that uncertainty could very well last into the summer. Besides the obvious problem of getting to the event, we wonder about the likely reception we would receive from the local community even after things open up more.

On the other hand, pilots continue to show interest in attending. 36 pilots responded to our survey, with 35 expressing an interest in attending. You can see the full survey results here…

Barring the worst happening, we expect we will see pilots in flying Golden during the planned dates of the Willi (Week 1 July 24-Aug 8). And we just can’t stand to go another year without an event. So, we’re planning to run a stripped-down comp at a minimum, and will ready to add features and events as health restrictions and time allow. We have agreed with the Splashdown organizers to delay our proposed partnership until 2022.

The stripped-down event will be run as virtually as we can…

  • Flying days for the Willi will be extended to 2 weeks, allowing you to count flights flown from July 24 to Aug 8.
  • Flights may be flown and scored from launches in the upper Columbia Valley, including Mt.7, Swansea, and Wasa. Pilots are required to comply with local site rules and restrictions, with reported violations resulting in 0 points for the flight.
  • Mostly the same rules as a normal Willi – fly as much as you want, top 3 scoring flights count, etc.
  • Tracking will be required – Dannie will be watching and we will coordinate with local RCMP, SAR, etc. to ensure the flying is as safe as possible.
  • All registration, tech sign-up, waivers to be done on-line.
  • No face-to-face meetings, but we will do a morning briefing online with weather, tips, daily and Willi-Make-It winners, and perhaps a draw or 2.
  • No parties or other formal social gatherings. We’d like to have the tent up for shelter and there may be beer there, but we’ll ask everyone to abide by the Covid gathering and masking rules in place at the time.
  • Scoring will be done online as per usual, and awards presented via video conference.

As we get closer to the event and know more about the Covid restrictions in place, we will add features as possible. There will be an obviously lower meet fee to cover essentials to run the comp (we’re working that out now), and if we add features later, they will be pay-as-you-go.

Expect to see another announcement from us within the next week or 10 days with details about the base fee and how to sign up. Thanks all for your continued interest and participation. If you have questions for us, email and we’ll do our best to answer them.

The Willi Team

2020 Willi Final

The 2020 Willi has come to a close in a very different way from previous years. No closing party, extended goodbyes, or big clean-up. The weather almost all week was hot, dry, and not too windy. And no fires – go figure. There was some great flying done too, especially by our winners…
PG Intermediate:
  • 1st – Robert Maguire 265 points
  • 2nd – Adam Gordon 143
  • 3rd – Toby Stier 113
  • 4th – David Longshaw 109
PG Advanced:
  • 1st – Brian Duchovnay 389 points
  • 2nd – Nate Neufeld 91 (on 1 flight)
Winners, Robert and Brian, get a free entry to next Year’s Willi and will have their names added to the appropriate winner’s plaque. Dannie advises these scores would have been competitive any year. It’s unfortunate more pilots didn’t submit flights, but we hope everyone enjoyed the flying they had.
Let’s all hope 2021 lets us get back to a more normal comp, the kind we all know and love. Our committee has some big plans for the 25th, what we’re tentatively calling “The Longest Willi”. Stay tuned for more.

Willi 2020 Cancelled

The Willi Team regretfully announces that we have decided to cancel Willi 2020, at least in the form it has taken for the last 23 years (see below). Community is at the core of what makes the Willi great, the community of pilots that comes together around our shared passion for XC free flight, and the community of Golden and the Columbia Valley that welcomes us to enjoy their home. In good conscience, we cannot expose either of these communities to unknown risks at this time.

This decision was not made easily. To our regulars, we will miss the best part of the Willi for us – spending time and having fun with you. For pilots who planned to attend for the first time, please join us in future for what we assure you will be one of the best comp experiences you can have. To our sponsors and suppliers, we truly appreciate your continued support.

I will be processing refunds in the next few days for all pilots who have registered and paid for this year’s competition. If you would like, let me know and we will carry your payment forward to next year.

We will be back next year in the usual format for the 25th annual Willi. John wants me to assure you all that there will be bigger prizes, even better breakfasts, and more beer.

There will be a Willi this year, different, but we just can’t imagine a year without one. We’re calling it Virtual Willi 2020. Participate wherever you are. Rules will be posted on our site soon, but here’s how it will work…

  • Register on our site by Friday, July 24 – go to: (Note: If you have already registered, you’re in – no need to register again.)
  • Fly XC wherever you are during the usual dates of the Willi – July 25 to Aug 2. We recommend you fly with a GPS tracker, just as you would during the Willi. Obviously, Dannie will not be tracking you but trust me, he still cares.
  • Submit a Willi Landing Form for each flight – go to: We’d prefer you upload your flight to XCanada to get your points (see here), but will also accept a witnessed landing and trust your measured distance. Please don’t take a bonus for take-off from Upper Launch even if you do launch from Mt. 7. The Landing Bonus will still apply for a witnessed safe landing – we’re all about the safety.
  • Best 3 flights registered during the week for each participating pilot will determine final standings in each pilot category.
  • Winners in each category will receive a free entry to Willi 2021.
  • If you need help, Dannie and I will monitor the site and be available via email ( or chat on Facebook.

There will also be flying from Mt.7 this year – some are already launching from 5K. Muller Flight Park at GEAR is closed, but Doug and Karen Keller have announced you are welcome to use Keller fields as an LZ for solo flights – please be sure to sign their waiver before you head up the mountain. The restaurants and stores in the area will appreciate any business you can send their way. If you choose to visit, please respect any social distancing protocols in place and continue to do what you can to maintain the great reputation we as pilots have built in the community.

See you in 2021, in person, for the 25th Willi!

The Willi Team

Early Registration Approaching

The Willi is getting closer, and we’re working on making the 2019 edition the best ever. The road to launch is open and the first XC flights have already been made. 67 pilots have already signed up (see who at

The deadline for Early Registration and refunds is just a few days away – June 15. Remember, price for registration after June 15 is $200 – pay now to save. Also, everyone registered by June 15 is eligible for the Early Registration Draw for a gift certificate to a local Golden restaurant. If you are already registered but haven’t paid, you can pay the fee at

Technical Signup will begin in early July, and other info about parties, etc. will be provided as we get closer to the comp. If you have any thoughts or questions for us, please send them to Otherwise, we’ll see you July 26 to Aug 4 at the Willi!

The Willi Team

Sponsor Thank You

The Willi wouldn’t be possible without the support of great business people who donate to the cause, and Columbia Valley landowners who welcome pilots to their property. To thank them all for their contributions, we ran the ad below in the Golden Star, August 24th. Thanks again from the participating pilots and organizers.

Shade Hut Re-Stain

We got it done – Shade Hut, tables and pilot bathroom re-stained. Many hands made for quick work, and winds too high to fly kept everyone focussed. Thanks to: Stuart, Veronica, Rafa, Mieko, Hugo, Scott, Tim, John, and Randy (sorry if I missed someone).

Please Suppot Willi Sponsors

We have great sponsors who step up to support the Willi, making it a better event for all involved. An updated list of these great organizations and people can be found at Please check the list and be sure to reward them with your business.

Private Screening: Strong the Wind Blows – Aug 5

The Willi Team is excited to announce we have arranged for Ben Jordan, adventurer and filmmaker, to present a premiere private screening of his movie “Strong The Wind Blows” at the Willi, Saturday, Aug 5 at 8:00 PM. The movie chronicles his journey on a paraglider from ocean to prairie across the Rockies – see trailer here:

Before the screening, Ben will share secrets he’s learned pursuing big dreams previously considered to be “Impossible”. A Q&A will follow.

If you are a Willi registered pilot, the event is free to you. Other pilots and guests are invited to attend for $20 – tickets at the door. Come fly Golden with us, then enjoy some one on one time with a guy doing what many of us dream about.

Early Registration Deadline and Rides

Early Registration Deadline – June 15

The deadline for Early Registration and refunds is just a few days away – June 15. If you are already registered but haven’t paid, you can pay the fee at If you haven’t registered yet, go to, sign up, and you will be offered an opportunity to pay before leaving.

Rides to Launch and Retrieves

We hope to make the Willi one of the best free flight competitions you can attend. The most frequent improvement suggestions we hear from participants have to do with making it easier to get up to launch, and arranging for retrieval. We are continually looking at options, and have put a lot more effort into it this year. Some realities we all must accept…

  • The Willi is purposefully designed as an open distance, XC competition. We believe that kind of competition best suits the site, our weather, and the pilots we hope to attract and develop, those with the desire to get high and go far in a challenging mountain environment.
  • The road to launch has improved tremendously in the last 35 years of flying at Golden. But it is still a tough drive that takes a toll on any vehicle used to get up there, and the mechanics and parts needed for inevitable repairs cost more now than they used to.
  • Our flying day is long, the flying area huge, and the XC options plentiful on good days. That’s what draws us to Golden. It also means though that, pilots can be spread up and down a 200+ km valley, up to 2 ranges away, and landing throughout the day. Unlike a race comp, we don’t all launch at the same time, fly the same route, and hope to end up in the same LZ within a specified window.
  • Our weather means that we fly far some days, while on others we need to be satisfied with staying warm and dry waiting to fly. Unfortunately, rental companies and bus drivers expect to be paid every day, rain or shine.
  • We want to keep the Willi affordable for a range of pilots, from those who might be excited to fly and land safely in the LZ every day, to those who plan to be as far away as possible every day. And, it seems unfair to charge everyone the costs of rides and retrieves when some come prepared with their own drivers and vehicles.

We did look at renting vehicles, even a bus, something that many have suggested. Renting is just too expensive, and comes with liability issues we are unwilling to take on. “Borrowing” vehicles from prospective sponsors also fell through because of the expense and liability.

So, here’s where we’re at for this year. The “Best Retrieve Driver in Canada”, Vincene Muller, will once again be doing our long retrieves. She has repaired an old favorite – Big White – and will focus on those who go farthest. For the rest of us, the best alternative we have is to get more vehicles on the highway, then make better connections between pilots and rides. Here’s how we plan to do that…

  1. The recommended “donation” for a ride to launch will be $15, up from the $10 it has been for the last 25 years. The guy who ran the ride service last year told us he could not compete at all with $10. Those of us with trucks know he’s not wrong. Going to $15 isn’t much of a change, but we’re hoping more people with vehicles will see their way clear to offer rides with a little more compensation. And, we’ll work on the guy with the ride service to see if he’ll come down to that price for a guaranteed full truck.
  2. The recommended donation for retrieves will be increased, to $15 for anyone north of Invermere (about 100 km), and $25 between there and Canal Flats (about 150 km), and negotiable after that. Again, we’re hoping that a little more incentive will get more drivers out on the road.
  3. We are looking for a Retrieve Coordinator, someone to work closely with Dannie (the tracking and safety guy), taking over from him when pilots are on the ground, then dispatching drivers who we’ll equip with Spot trackers to those pilots. This should cut down the wait time for rides, especially those who are closer in to Golden on the good days. This Coordinator will also facilitate the link up of pilots needing rides with willing drivers each morning.
  4. We will place public service announcements on the radio and in local papers, advising locals to be on the lookout for stranded pilots, and suggesting there may be something in it for them. Nothing like a few bucks to help a driver get over their fear of the scary people with the big packs.

So, what’s the bottom-line for you the pilot. If the weather sucks all week, you get out of Golden with lots of good stories of turning bad times into good, and most of the money you came with. If the weather and flying are stellar though, the Willi may cost you as much as some of the bigger comps because you paid a little more for rides and retrieves. But, are you really going to complain if you paid that money to fly from a great launch, along a spectacular range, to personal best distances, and had a great time when you weren’t flying? We don’t think so. See you end of July at the Willi!