Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Route Is Out There!

The route for this year's X-Alps has finally been announced!

As has already been said numerous times in the short time since the announcement, this is an unprecedented route, what with the crazy departures southward, its length even as straight lines between the turn-points, and the long distances between the points themselves.  The route crisscrosses the Alps fully 3 times right where they are the widest, and each time is pretty well against the grain of how a paraglider might fly.  Visiting areas that I am sure even veteran Alps pilots are not too familiar with, the course guarantees frustrating bomb-outs and a sh*tload of walking up and down endless hills in the middle of nowhere!

I am personally quite happy about this, even though I think it will be the most difficult X-Alps ever.  That's because I believe it plays to whatever advantages I may have.  First of all, everyone's not knowing the route well will 'level the playing field', as has already been said, and that's great for rookies and those for whom the Alps is not their backyard.  Second, I believe I am fit and ready for serious punishment, even, I dare say, more than some of my competition!  Third, the complexities of this route make efficient, accurate, and error-free navigation (both in the air and on the ground) a priority, and that is something I know I am good at.  Certainly, it will be a great challenge and lots of work to study the route and its flights online.  In fact, much of the research and hard work I've already been doing just went right out the window, since the route doesn't even go where I thought it would!

I am sure the previously all-important Mt. Blanc turn-point has been dumped mainly in order to keep the route length within reasonable bounds, but this too opens up some interesting possibilities.  It seems that nearly the entire second half the course will be spent fighting the stable air of the Italian Piedmont.  Quite by coincidence, I ended up flying the very area for nearly a week last summer, not really because I wanted to, but because the weather sucked everywhere else!  I never imagined this would become the X-Alps course.  The flying here is pretty different from the rest of the Alps, and a little more like my 'home' areas in Japan!

I'm excited to hear more detailed analyses and opinions as everyone digests this new data.  For now, congrats to the organizers for surprising us all!

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