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Speeding Points: Learning to Speedride

Tuesday 4 November, 2014


With winter on the horizon in the Alps in Cross Country 156 (Nov/Dec 2014) we take an in-depth look at how to learn to speedride. It’s not as simple as borrowing your mate’s 8m speed wing!

Arnaud Baumy is a paragliding and speedriding instructor in Les Arcs. He got into the sport with Francois Bon at the start, and, alongside fellow instructor Jerome Bes, has been teaching the sport since 2007. “You have to learn safely,” he says. “The sport gives you lots of adrenalin. You are going quite fast, not as fast as motorcycling but quite fast, and you feel quite safe. Which is not totally true!”

People always want to go past their limit, he says, and this is one of the key skills in the sport – to learn to stop. “In a way it’s the hardest part, the mental part of speedriding. You have to keep cool. It’s not that easy – with the adrenaline rush people always want to go faster and do more, and at the end of the day they crash because they are feeling confident but are tired.”

The classic: Francois Bon speedrides Aconcagua – action starts at 2:10

However, he says, “As long as you do it safely, in a good place, then you have no problem. But it is not a sport to push.”

With that clear, what happens on day one? “The approach for a pilot or a total beginner is the same. First, we learn about the equipment. That will take an hour. The next step is to learn how to get ready, how to be able to rapidly inspect the glider and then go. We don’t lay out the wing like paragliding, it is attached to us all the time and we just throw it into the wind and go.

“After we have learnt that technique, then we go up on the training slope. The first goal is to be able to slow down.”

The full article is in Cross Country 156.

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