A 6-day Women’s Paragliding Open took place at Laragne-Monteglin in the southern French Alps during the last week of August 2016.
An access-level competition, its purpose was to bring together a community of female pilots from around the world, to compete, share their experiences and to train. Tasks were accompanied by daily briefings and de-briefings, and technical workshops.
Blue skies and a heatwave over France greeted the 48 competitors – 24 women and 24 men – who enjoyed a full six days’ flying from St Vincent-les-Forts, Bergies (Mevouillon) and the Chabre, giving pilots the opportunity to explore the region.
Benedicte Saury-Jourdain, Nancy Berge and Carole Savary were the Women’s Open winners, while Remi Bourdelle won the men’s event ahead of Tom Voisin and Sergey Vinyukov.
The competition’s 50:50 female:male ratio was by design. “For every confirmed female competitor one place is allocated to a male pilot to ensure parity between the sexes”, explained Benedicte, chair of the FFVL (French free-flight federation) Women’s Commission and the event’s organiser. The Women’s Commission exists to promote free-flight to women, who represent a distinct minority in the sport. It runs women-only training camps in various disciplines at various skill levels.
“Women and men learn and behave in different ways, both in a classroom environment and in the way they approach learning practical skills”, says Benedicte, who is a science teacher by profession. “Women tend to be quiet in mixed-sex training environments, so female-only courses provide an environment where they feel more confident, promoting more open discussion. Women tend to support and encourage each other”.
Since the inception of the Women’s Commision four years ago, the number of female members of the FFVL has grown. “There are now three times as many women submitting flights to the French league than there were five or six years ago, and more 100km+ flights”, Benedicte explained.
Next year’s Women’s Paragliding Open is already in the planning stages, and will take place at Le Grand Bornand in the northern French Alps, either in late July or early August. Details will be released early in 2017. Places are likely to be limited t0 60, with a mixture of female and male pilots again. While it as an access-level competition, some cross-country experience is expected and participants need to be IPPI 5-rated and hold an FAI sporting licence. The competition’s FAI cat. 2 status means pilots earn WPRS points.
Results – women
- Benedicte Saury-Jourdain, Ozone Mantra 6
- Nancy Berge, Ozone Delta 2
- Carole Savary, Niviuk
Results – men
- Remi Bourdelle, Ozone Enzo 2
- Tom Voisin, Ozone Enzo 2
- Sergey Vinyukov, Ozone Mantra 6
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