British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

Skywings Archived News

Skywings Archived News - Feb 2011


Just a final reminder that the Annual General Meeting of the BHPA will be at Bisham Abbey on Saturday February 12 2011. The AGM will include the election of BHPA Officers, members of the Association's Executive Committee (Exec).

Bisham is near Marlow, Bucks (SL7 1RR) and has very good road access via the M4.

Two Brits for X-Alps

British pilots Jon Chambers and Steve Nash have both been selected to compete in the 2011 Red Bull X-Alps contest, said by many to be the toughest race on earth. For those not familiar with the format, the X-Alps, now in its fifth incarnation, is a bivouac hike-and-fly endurance race extending around 850km from Salzburg in Austria to Monaco on the French Riviera. Each competitor is allowed one supporter to provide food, weather forecasting and other logistical backup. Whoever reaches Monaco first is the winner, and 48 hours after that pilot touches down the race is stopped. Of the 30 pilots in the race only a handful will reach Monaco within two days of the winner; many will have fallen by the wayside and retired, hurt or exhausted, along the way. To complete the route may require an actual flying and walking distance of around 1,300km.

Swiss winner Chrigel Maurer raised the bar in the last race in 2009, completing the gruelling course in a record ten days having flown for 42 hours and walked for nearly 90, spending just 100 hours resting. Jon and Steve are both pretty hard customers already but will be training seriously until the event begins in July. Jon (30) was noted for running 800m uphill to the launch each day at last year's St Andre Nationals. He lives in Switzerland, flies an Ozone Mantra M4, has a 170km triangle flight under his belt and walked and flew with Aidan Toase on the final stretch of the 2009 race.

Jon will be supported by his father Richard, himself a marathon runner and capable outdoorsman. Steve Nash (38) is a veteran of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and has twice won Scotland's X-Scotia hike-and-fly race and also the X-Lakes event, all three X-Alps type events held in the UK. He lives in Cheshire, flies a Nova Ibex and has extensive experience of flying in the Austrian, Swiss and French Alps and in Snowdonia. Steve will be supported by UK XC League No 2 Richard Bungay, no stranger to organisation having run the British paragliding comps scene for several years.

The 2011 Red Bull X-Alps race blasts off from Salzburg on July 17th. There will be live tracking and lots of information about the race and the competitors at Other top-drawer competitors in this year's race include Mike Kung, Vincent Sprungli, Ramon Morillas, 2007 runner-up Toma Coconea, two-time winner Alex Hofer, 2009 winner Maurer and 3rd-placer Honza Rejmanek. For an insight into just how tough this uber-tough contest is, read Aidan Toase's account of his third race in November 2009 Skywings. Of his fourth-place finish Aidan writes, "It was a fantastic result. I had run 670km, climbed 32,000m vertically and flown 475km over 11 days." X-Alps mastermind and planner Hannes Arch has this to say about the event he devised: "It's about body and soul, not about hundreds of rules and regulations.

The athletes have to give everything, 24 hours a day… it's the hardest adventure race in the world." Previous British competitors include Ulric Jessop (8th in 2007), Tom Payne (15th in 2009) and Aidan Toase (7th in 2005, 6th in 2007 and 4th in 2009). Besides Chrigel Maurer, other winners have been Kaspar Henny (2003) and Alex Hofer (2005 and 2007). Yes, they are all Swiss.

Big Fat Repack

The Thames Valley club's Big Fat Repack takes place on Sunday March 27th at the Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading. There will be a zip slide to practice emergency-parachute deployment, and Bill Morris and his team of BHPA-qualified packers will be on hand with help and advice.

First Aid lectures are also included, aimed at giving pilots the confidence to assess and take control of any situation. The cost is £26, less than the cost of a commercial repack. Book online at Or pay by cheque by downloading a booking form at Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your postal booking to BFR, The Gables, 1 Henwick Lane, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG18 3BJ.

Stolen equipment

Lost and presumed stolen in the Abergavenny area: a blue-and-gold Advance Alpha 4 28 #47833 with risers marked "No. 33". Also missing are a red-and-black Sup'Air Alti X airbag harness marked "JSHPC SA3 M, no 28" fitted with a Charly Cloud 2 reserve #20009417; a large metallic-blue Charly Insider helmet marked "No 15"; and an Icom pro radio #1228825.

Anyone with any information should contact Paul Farley on 01873 810386, mobile: 07624 313945 or e-mail:


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