Red Bull X-Alps 2017 – Episode 4 Zugspitze

Day five started with a pleasant walk up to one of the only grassy launch options I could see in the surrounding hills. Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, was 68km to the west and beyond lay the Lermoos turn point 4. I top landed after a short technical flight, was overtaken, and then got back in the air and raced onward to reach Lermoos in fifth place at about 3pm. See the 8 minute video

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Red Bull X-Alps 2017 – Episode 3 Aschau

Day four started high in an Austrian mountain hut a short walk from the main divide. Several other pilots had managed to fly further north the previous evening, but as the day turned out I was quite happy to have started in the big mountains. It meant I could have a really early start and the big arc leading out and over Wilder Kaiser was unique among the other competitors and allowed me to catch them in Aschau. Oh, and I should mention that the scenery up there was spectacular.

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Red Bull X-Alps 2017 – Episode 2 Triglav

Recipe for a good day – sausages and eggs for breakfast on Day 3

This was a crucial day and on the first big valley crossing I said “I was thinking that this could be one of the most important glides of the whole race”, but immediately after saying it I thought, well, hang on, there is going to be maybe a dozen make or break moments in the race. Looking back there are about half a dozen critical moments that I can think of just for this day (!): day three, where I rounded the Triglav turn point.

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Red Bull X-Alps 2017 – Episode 1 early days

Team New Zealand assembles in Fuschl, Austria, ahead of the Red Bull X-Alps 2017

Building on my debut Red Bull X-Alps in 2015 where I focused on style, this time we added the “family holiday” theme. I see it as a fun adventure rather than a gruelling competition, and I wanted to keep a bit of healthy perspective on the event. My brother and Mum were the perfect supporters in this respect.

Rather than spend our time chasing sponsors we just let things fall into place with a major contribution from my uncle’s company Aim Lab Automation Technologies, the New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, and dozens of generous donors on givealittle. This in effect covered the costs of our budget conscious enterprise with my brother Ben’s extremely efficient logistics.

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X-Alps 2017 route


Right now in the lead up to the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps, my facebook feed is starting to get busy with posts from athletes reconnoitring the new route. Most are heading over early to get several weeks of flying under their belt. Myself I’m arriving only days before the latest allowed arrival, and I have never flown the (z-alps, or zeno) wing I’ve selected to fly for the race – hopefully it will arrive from Ozone soon! As Honza (past USA competitor and meteorologist) says, “you can’t brute force your way through the xalps, you have to think your way through” – there are many ways I can prepare myself mentally.

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