The Stubai Cup 2023 saw near-perfect weather for testing gliders over all three days last weekend, giving us a chance to test-fly more than 20 new gliders.
The location of the testival at the base of the Elferbahn lift in the Stubai valley means you can be whisked up to take-off at 1,780m in six-and-a-half minutes, giving you an 813m glide down to the valley floor.
At the minimum that lets you get a feel for the launch and landing behaviour of the glider as well as an instant feel for the wing. At best, you can launch and be thermalling for an hour or more. On Saturday when cloudbase rose to 3,000m some pilots enjoyed classic spring conditions as they toured the valley all the way up to the Stubai glacier at 3,210m. Nice views, but very, very cold!
In the next issue of Cross Country magazine we will round up the gliders we flew, including the new class of two-line EN C gliders like the Ozone Photon and Gin Bonanza 3. There was a buzz around these, of course, but there was also a lot of interest in hike-and-fly gliders as well as EN A+ and low EN B gliders.
The testival saw around 300 pilots a day come to fly, which meant well over 1,000 launches each day. The Saturday was the busiest day ever at the Stubai Cup, organisers said. With 30 companies showcasing new wings, there was a lot to look at and take in. Here’s a round-up of what we saw and heard, company by company.
Advance did not launch anything brand new at the show, but plenty of pilots were test-flying the new Epsilon DLS and Iota DLS, both EN B. Under wraps for now, Advance’s dealer said the Omega ULS (two-line EN D) is expected to be ready later this month, in time to be approved for use in the Red Bull X-Alps. It will be available to buy publicly later this year.
AirDesign used the Stubai Cup to introduce the first two-line EN C last year, the Volt 4. This year they had something new: a two-line EN C mini-wing called the Loco. It’s a “wacky racer” that is “a mix of the Susi and the Volt,” said designer Stephan Stiegler. “It looks like a Susi but has the two-line technology of the Volt. The Loco is available in one size only at 16m² and is a “new dimension” in hike-and-fly gliders. Claimed top speed is 70km/h at 90kg. AirDesign also had the Susi 4, Vivo 2 (mid-B) and said they were working on the Li-Vi, a lightweight Vivo 2 for later this year.
BGD have bucked the trend for two-line EN Cs with the release of the new Lynx 2 (EN C), a hybrid 3/2-liner. It means they have been able to use shorter rods, and thus make the glider more easily packable. Also announced was the Epic Freestyle, which is a reinforced Epic especially for freestyle pilots who loved the original Epic – it’s available in five sizes and one pink/red colour scheme. The Anda is BGD’s new EN A.
The Drift team is young and small and just getting started. “We launched just before Covid, so that was a tough time to start a company,” co-owner Kryštof Klimpar said. Based in Brno in the Czech Republic manufacturing is done in-house. Their new Merlin was eye-catching because of its unique top-surface geometric 3D design which really pops. It was “designed by an architect” Kryštof said. The Merlin is a two-line EN C with an A/R of 6.3. Five sizes are planned.
One of the first things to catch our eye was the Hike&Cruise from Dudek – so much so that three of us took it for a test fly together. It’s a new concept, which aims to do several things. The obvious weird-looking thing is that there are a lot fewer panels on the bottom surface than the top surface. So while the top surface has 65 panels, the bottom surface only has 21 – it’s a ratio of 3:1. Aspect ratio is 5.6. The benefit is it weighs less than a standard glider but retains a lot of performance. Just 2.6kg in its mid-size 22, it comes in three sizes: 19, 22 and 25. They also introduced the Techno 2023 pod harness, which is lighter than the previous version, now under 2kg in M size.
The whale-inspired leading edge of Gin’s Boomerang CCC (competition) wing has made its way to their new two-line EN C glider, the Bonanza 3. Already certified in three sizes it will soon be available in five sizes, covering weight ranges 60-125kg. Aspect ratio is 6.3. The Evora, Gin’s “easy intermediate” EN B is also now available in all sizes.
Icaro said they would be releasing details of the new Pandion 2, their low-B glider, in April with a launch later this year. In the meantime, they have launched a new Square Light reserve, available in three sizes: 90, 110 and 130 kg max weight.
Independence introduced the EN-B Geronimo 3 last year, which continues to do well for the brand; they will soon be introducing the Whopper too, a new “high-A” which is going through certification now. The company’s Stefan Kurrle also told us they now have their range of reserves available in more sizes and are working on new harnesses. He told us “Amazingly, after thirty years of designing harnesses we have found a better geometry for the leg straps that allows pilots to get into the sitting position much more easily.” The first harnesses with this set-up will be released soon.
Pilots were test flying the Illusion 2 low-B wing, released over the winter. It’s aimed at pilots who want to progress in cross-country and freestyle flying. Meanwhile, on the field, designer Petr Reček was demoing the Verve, Mac Para’s two-line EN C that will be “ready for summer” and is expected to be light, at around 4kg. It will not replace the Elan, which is Mac Para’s current three-line EN C, but instead will sit above it in the range.
Neo presented the Suspender 2, the latest prototype of their updated XC harness. The new version will come in five sizes rather than four, and will cover sizes 155-200cm. It incorporates their innovative and patented Stand-Up rescue system, which they think is “genuinely safer”. Weight is around 4kg, depending on size. A fold-away faring (which is not inflatable) makes packing simpler. They are looking to release it for June/July. Plus, the Stay Up 2.0 now comes in one extra size: XL, up to 200cm.
Niviuk’s new two-line EN C is the Artik R. Just launched and available now it is a “pure two-liner” with an aspect ratio of 6.5. This is in an increase over the Artik 6 (EN C, AR 6.3) and is why they do not plan to replace the Artik 6 with the new two-liner. Instead, pilots who want to fly EN C will be able to choose between the more classic EN C Artik 6 and the sportier EN C Artik R. The Hook 6 (low B, AR 5.3) meanwhile is a “completely new” development and not simply an updated Hook 5, said Niviuk. Designed to be a safe and fun first XC glider it is available now in six sizes. The light version is the Hook 6P. Also in the Red Bull X-Alps game, Niviuk are finalising the certification of their X-Alps wing, the Klimber 3P. “It’s an evolution of the Klimber 2, we keep the internal structure but the airfoil and trimming is different.” It will be available for pilots to buy later this year.
Nova presented a prototype of the Artus harness, which will be the serial version of the harness used by Nova pilots in the 2021 Red Bull X-Alps. It will not be available until September and will weigh 2.1kg in M. In wings, the main news was the Ion 7 (low-B) is now available. The full-fat version of the Mentor 7 (EN B+) has also been released, as has the Aonic Light (EN A+).
In Stubai for one day only, Ozone designer Luc Armant was on hand to answer questions about and introduce the new Photon, Ozone’s two-line EN C wing. Luc said that the Photon, which has AR 6.5, is designed to be a replacement for the Mantra 7 (EN D), and not the Delta 4 (EN C). Also on show was Ozone’s new Forza 2 harness, which has a finish date of “a few weeks”. The Moxie, Ozone’s new EN A, was also available to test fly.
Phi’s designer Hannes Papesh was introducing the new Symhonia 2 Light (EN A). Available in six sizes covering weight ranges 55-130kg and with a flat aspect ratio of 5.14 the wing weighs 3.3kg in the middle size, a weight saving of around 1kg on the full-fat Symphiona 2. The glider is made of Porcher Skytex 27 throughout.
Acro pilots Artoosh Ghofoorian and Luke de Weert were spinning around on the new Kooky 2 Bi, a dedicated acro tandem paraglider. Specially designed for acro it is aimed at pro tandem pilots and acro instructors who want to give hands-on tandem training to their students. Also new from Sky is the Gaia 3, an EN A designed to be a pilot’s first wing.
Skyman’s new light pod harness is the U93, which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the submarine out of the 1991 anti-war film Das Boot. The Shark is their new hybrid single/double-surface lightweight wing for hike-and-fly.
Skywalk’s sleek Range X-Alps 3 was attracting admiring looks. In midnight blue and “mellow yellow” the light harness (around 2kg) will be available in three sizes from later this month. The specialist Red Bull X-Alps version will be 700g lighter, they said. Meanwhile, the Mint is Skywalk’s new two-line EN C. It will be available in six sizes, have an aspect ratio of 6.4 and will be available from mid-April. It is aimed at “ambitious XC or sports class competition pilots”. Skywalk said they plan to keep the Cayenne, their three-line sports class wing. The Cumeo 2 (EN B) is also out now.
Supair’s new Leaf 3 was launched just ahead of Stubai. This low-B progression glider “overlaps” with the Eona 3 (EN A) and is designed so pilots can progress from school to thermalling to XC without experiencing any sharp steps in piloting demand. Designer Pierre-Yves said the Leaf 3 and Leaf 3 Light have “better equilibrium, they are more intuitive for the target pilot, more balanced.” Also new is Supair’s Altirando Lite 2, a reversible sit harness for hike-and-fly.
Swing promise their new two-line EN C is “an easy one!” despite its eye-catching aspect ratio of 6.9. The semi-light Libra RS is the “little brother” of Swing’s Sphera (EN D), Swing say, and is aimed at experienced XC pilots. The wing includes Swing’s trademark Rast system, although position and tension has been changed so it now sits above the pilot. Certification is happening now, pre-orders are available and production will start soon. Also new is Swing’s Verso RS, a semi-light hike-and-fly glider (EN B).
The Matrix was the main news from Triple Seven. This new EN A will be available in June/July and will fit in their range between the Pawn and the Deck, both EN A. Available to test at the show were the new Bishop (tandem) and the Q-Light 3, a lightweight classic EN C with aspect ratio 6.2 that is available in four sizes covering weight ranges 70-119kg.
UP’s new performance wing the Trango X is a 3/2-line EN C with aspect ratio 6.47. Available in four sizes it covers weight ranges 65-125kg. Also new is the Summit X, the “little brother” to the Trango X. A 3/2-line EN B it has an AR of 5.87 and also comes in four sizes, 65-125kg.
U-Turn presented the Emotion 4 (EN A) at the Coupe Icare in September last year. Now at the Stubai Cup six months later they presented the Eternity 4, a lightweight Emotion 4. Available in seven sizes the XL goes all the way up to 160kg, making it a possible tandem glider for lighter pilots. Also based on the Emotion 4 is the Annapurna 2, U-Turn’s new ultralight hike-and-fly glider: available in two sizes (22 and 24) it weighs 2.85kg and 3.2kg. Finally, the Lightning 2 is U-Turn’s newly updated lightweight high-B, with aspect ratio 5.8. It will be available in five sizes.
We’ll publish first-look bitesize reviews of many of the gliders we flew at the Stubai Cup in the next issue of Cross Country Magazine. PLUS we’ll feature lots more insight into the new class of two-line EN C paragliders.