A brief summary of some of the main paragliding competitions for 2021 so far, starting with the mind-boggling Red Bull X-Alps extreme hike-and-fly race, several high-level standard XC race events and, ending on on the paragliding aerobatic (ACRO) side, the AcroMAX World Cup and 3rd FAI World Paragliding Aerobatic Championships.
Red Bull X-Alps 2021 - Chrigel: 7 wins in a row, incredible!
For the unbelievable seventh time in a row, Chrigel 'The Eagle' Maurer convincingly won the world's toughest race, the Red Bull X-Alps, again this year! After a close race between the five leaders until near the end, Chrigel pulled an incredible Maurer Magic move, taking a different route to the others, putting him way in the lead. He finished nearly a full day ahead of the next arrival, Patrick von Kanel. Amazing performance! Both were flying the new ultralight Advance OMEGA XALPS 4 wing and special athletes limited edition X-ALPS harness, so another Red Bull X-Alps double victory for Advance Paragliders.
^ Red Bull X-Alps 2021 double victory for Advance Paragliders: 1st Chrigel Maurer, 2nd Patrick von Kanel.
Watch the full Red Bull X-Alps 2021 race recap video:
Swiss Paragliding Open & Championships 2021: Chrigel wins again, flying a Niviuk X-One!
Chrigel went on to win the 2021 Swiss Paragliding Open, making him Swiss Champion for 2021. He chose to fly a Niviuk X-One competition wing, which seems to be the weapon of choice for more and more top competition pilots (who aren't tied to a competition wing brand).
Other Niviuk X-One wins this year include the 2021 Paragliding World Cup (PWC) Italy, PWC Serbia, the Italian Paragliding Open, the Russian Paragliding Open, the US Paragliding Nationals, the Spanish Paragliding League, the Nordic Paragliding Open, the French Youth Paragliding Championships... Highly impressive results! A pilot flying an X-One was also leading what is probably the highest level paragliding competition of the year until the last day, as we'll find out next...
Paragliding World Cup (PWC) Super Final 2021: tight race to the end!
Next was 2021 Paragliding World Cup (PWC) Super Final, held in Disentis, Switzerland. This was the first Super Final to be held in the European Alps, so dubbed the Alpine PWC Super Final 2021. The competition far exceeded all expectations. It was Alpine splendour at its best: Seven tasks with stunning views of rocky peaks and glaciers. Wind directions varied, giving challenging racing conditions. The pilot level was high and great conditions gave very technical flying. Aaron Durogati led for most of the competition, flying a Niviuk X-One.
In the end, after the last task, Luc Armant pipped him at the post, flying an Ozone Enzo 3. Third was Adrian Hachen, flying the new Gin Boomerang 12. Top woman was Seiko Fukuoka Naville, flying an Ozone Enzo 3. Seiko has already won the ladies' title a staggering sixteen times! Disentis 2021 brings her Super Final titles to three.
Paragliding with a... submarine?
Luc was flying flying his new prototype harness, aptly named the Submarine, which some claimed delivered a significant edge in performance. This kind of 'torpedo' harness design is nothing new in paragliding competitions, however so far it's not caught on (we assume because it didn't really work). The montage image below shows Chrigel Maurer hanging in a prototype harness in 2004 on the left (and there are probably earlier attempts), and Luc Armant coming in to land in the latest Ozone prototype in 2021.
What was it like to take part in the PWC Super Final 2021 in Disentis? Watch highlights from Task 7 below.
AcroMAX World Cup 2021 & 3rd FAI World Paragliding Aerobatic Championships
On the ACRO (paragliding aerobatic) competition side, Advance team pilot Bicho Carrera won both the 2021 AcroMAX World Cup and the 3rd FAI World Paragliding Aerobatic Championships in Trasaghis, Italy to become ACRO World Champion on his Advance OMIKRON (see acro wings). Impressive performance, amazeballs to watch! Check out Bicho's new ten minute video, documenting his journey at the 2021 paragliding acro world championships (he started paragliding at 3 years old, the first thing he can remember!):