The 2022 FAI European Paragliding Championships has kicked off, with a 72km task set for Day 1.
The competition racing starts today, 27 July, after an opening ceremony and a practice task earlier in the week. The championship is being held in Niš, Serbia and will run for two weeks, ending 6 August.
Originally due to take place in August 2020 the competition was postponed to 2022 because of the Covid pandemic.
Some 133 pilots from 30 countries are registered to take part, including 121 men and 12 women. They’ll be competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in overall, women’s and nations categories.
The competition was officially opened on Monday with a team parade through the streets and an opening ceremony. A practice task was held on Tuesday.
Pilots representing 23 European countries including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Serbia were joined by seven “guest” nations including Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba, Japan, India, South Africa and New Zealand.
France has the largest and one of the strongest teams, with 12 pilots taking part – although not all of them will score for the final position of the team.
French pilots include Ozone test pilots Honorin Hamard and Luc Armant, former world champion Pierre Remy, 2019 women’s paragliding world champion Meryl Delferriere, and PWCA Super Final winner and Red Bull X-Alps pilot Maxime Pinot.
Italy also has a strong team of 10 pilots, including Joachim Oberhauser fresh from a World Cup win in Romania.
Current Paragliding World Champion Russell Ogden (GB) is not flying. Current Women’s Paragliding World Champion Yael Margelisch is on the Swiss team.
Wing-wise, the Ozone Enzo 3 is still the glider of choice, with more than half the field flying one. According to the pilot list, the wings flown break down like this:
Ozone Enzo 3: 78
Niviuk Icepeak X-One: 25
Gin Boomerang 12: 10
Ozone Zeno 1/2: 9
Gin Leopard: 3
Flow Spectra: 3
UP Guru: 2
UP Meru: 1
Triple Seven King 2: 1
Ozone Delta 4: 1