Red Bull X-Alps 2021

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Generally, I’ve given up trying to organise anything in this pandemic, but here we are and X-Alps is set to go ahead once again. Not everyone has made it, including my (original) supporters, but I’ve decided that being stuck in Europe would not be the worst thing that could happen to me.

This time I have Nicola McLaren, kiwi expat living in France, as my official supporter. I met her through the Australian paragliding community and she has helped online in previous editions. She is keen to represent New Zealand, loves a good checklist, and has already interviewed my mother for advice.

Assisting during the race is my old work mate Pierre Mingot, also living in France. I met him when he stumbled into a job after travelling with his wife in a van through Australia, and we’ve installed the odd battery powered radio system here and there, he knows a trick or two about getting things to work against the odds.

For the first time the route does not end in Monaco. I’m glad I’ve done it once but I’m always keen to try something new. Ho hum we again have several turn points on the flats where we must land to sign a board (and drink a red bull, perhaps), but it looks like after Fiesch we’re off the leash.

As I realised last time, the standard is getting higher each edition and I’m going to have to be on the ball just to stay in the game. But let’s see how it goes.

This year I will be flying the GIN Puma. It’s a lightweight Leopard, and is a little heavier than some of the other offerings but I’ve gone with performance and longevity. It’s been good to arrive in the Alps early so I can get comfortable on the wing, knowing I can trust it in a range of conditions.

I also went for Neo because of longevity reasons – they design their harnesses to last. They were very accommodating during my visit to Annecy and I could see that they are improving their gear all the time, particularly with feedback from local star pilots Maxime Pinot and Laurie Genovese, both ones to watch.

So stay tuned for the prologue on the 17th of June and the race proper on Sunday 20th.

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