fbpx
Subscribe
Subscribe
 
New European Paragliding Champion Maxime Pinot with Seb Ospina (left) and Tilen Ceglar (right). Photo: Marcus King
Comps and Events, News

Europeans 2024: ‘This was one to remember’

Monday 3 June, 2024


Filming: Louis Tapper / Edit: Ryan Larraman

France’s Maxime Pinot won the 17th FAI European Paragliding Championships in Spain, which finished on Saturday. He took home the gold medal after a competition which saw 10 tasks and more than 1,000km flown. Britain’s Seb Ospina was second and Slovenia’s Tilen Cegler was third.

Maxime’s teammate Constance Mettetal won 9 out of 10 tasks in the Women’s class to take gold and was crowned new European Women’s Paragliding Champion. Austria’s Eli Egger was second and Romania’s Anca Tabara was third.

In the Nations, the UK won gold ahead of France and Slovenia after a tough battle between the teams.

The competition took place over 10 days in Pegalajar in Andalucia, southern Spain. About 200km north of Malaga the site is home to a thriving local club and offers a mix of mountain and flatland flying in a region most famous for its olive trees and olive oil production.

Well known as a competition site in Spain, Pegalajar was less well known internationally before this competition but delivered consistently good flying over 10 days, with pilots flying an average of 100km a day. Tasks ranged from 73km to 141km in length, with typical conditions of 3-5m/s climbs and cloudbase up to 3,000m.

Task briefing with Inigo Redin, right. Photo: Marcus King

Task briefing with Inigo Redin, right. Photo: Marcus King

Speaking after the competition, race director Inigo Redin, who is also race director for the X-Pyr, the hike-and-fly adventure race that traverses the Pyrenees, said: “We have had a great competition, with 10 tasks, 1,005km flown and only one stopped task. We had three reserve throws, where everyone landed safely. There were no injuries.” Two of the reserve throws came following a mid-air collision in a gaggle, while one was after a collapse and twist.

For Maxime Pinot, who is the current paragliding world champion, the competition completed a goal he’d set himself 10 years ago when he won his first major international competition title. “It was my main goal this year,” he posted afterwards.

“I wanted to finish what I started when I won the Paragliding World Cup Superfinal in 2014 by collecting all the major titles on the world XC tour: world champion (individual and team), Superfinal champion, and European champion (individual and team).”

Maxime’s win at the Europeans was not certain and despite winning several tasks early on he was chased hard by his teammate Honorin Hamard to the very end. Fresh from winning the most recent Superfinal, Honorin also had his sights set on winning the Europeans for what would have been the second time.

Maxime Pinot and Honorin Hamard. Photo: Ed Ewing

Maxime Pinot and Honorin Hamard. Photo: Ed Ewing

However, a remarkable run of 16 consecutive podiums, including first place in the Paragliding World Cup Superfinal in Brazil earlier this year, came to an end when he slipped from second to fifth overall after the final task.

That task, a 75km cats-cradle, saw pilots battling a punishing into-wind final leg which meant no one made goal and turned it into a battle for distance over speed. The results were not clear until the final calculations had been made.

Talking about it afterwards Maxime said: “This end of task was really, really tricky, just trying to do the longest distance possible. I landed with Honorin 15 minutes before the deadline, and they were long minutes, really. We saw people drifting and climbing, and you never know.”

In the final results Maxime managed to hold onto his lead by 21 points ahead of Seb Ospina, while Honorin dropped four spots to finish 26.5 points behind. Just one point separated silver and bronze medal positions.

Constance Mettetal with Eli Egger (left) and Anca Tabara (right). Photo: Marcus King

Constance Mettetal with Eli Egger (left) and Anca Tabara (right). Photo: Marcus King

In the Women’s competition the result was never in doubt, with Constance Mettetal dominating from the start and finishing with a huge margin of 566 points. The French pilot won nine out 10 tasks in the Women’s class and finished 40th overall. The only task she did not win was because she was following a request from the French team captain to push out front to find the line to support the team pilots flying behind. That put her on the deck early during that task.

After the final task Constance said: “The last task was so difficult, so hard with the wind but it’s finished and I’m happy. I’m the winner!”

Over the course of the competition Constance, whose name in French means “consistency”, won nine bottles of olive oil and nine pairs of trainers as day prizes, leading organisers to joke she would be opening a shoe shop back home in France.

Nations podium at the European Paragliding Championships 2024. Photo: Marcus King

Nations podium at the European Paragliding Championships 2024. Photo: Marcus King

In the Nations competition Team GB showed that the current French domination of competition paragliding is not always certain. Despite being the favourites and leading the Nations table for a week, a mistake in Task 7 saw several French pilots land early putting a significant dent in their score.

Team GB. Photo: Ed Ewing

Gold medallists Team GB. Photo: Ed Ewing

In the Nations competition the scores are cumulative, with no discards, meaning every pilot in goal counts. The French mistake gave the British team a cushion of about 150 points, which they managed to use to preserve their first place giving the team the title of European Paragliding Champions.

The competition closed with a medals ceremony in the town square. Backed by a DJ and in the face of competition from an outdoor screening of the European Champions League soccer final, FAI steward Goran Dimiskovski told the crowd of pilots and locals that the competition had been one of the best he’d been to in 30 years of paragliding competition. “This was something to be remembered”, he said.

The competition took place from 21 May to 1 June and featured 135 pilots, including 12 women, from 31 countries.

Competition results are at Civlcomps.org

Report by Ed Ewing. Cross Country photographer Marcus King’s photos are available to use free of charge by the competition pilots and their teams. Find the galleries here.

Back to Comps and Events
Back to Comps and Events

TRY A SUBSCRIPTION TODAY

Subscribe today and enjoy the following:

  • Eight issues per year delivered in high quality print, Zinio digital – or both
  • Access to our subscriber only masterclasses
  • Subscribers’ Prize Draws: twice a year, a lucky subscriber wins a new wing of their choice
  • Plus exclusive discount vouchers for books and products

Digital Magazine

From
£3.33
per month

  • Eight issues via Zinio
  • Access to subscriber only masterclasses
  • Read offline on phone or device
  • Chance to win a wing, twice a year

Print Magazine

From
£5.00
per month

  • Eight issues airmailed
  • Access to subscriber masterclasses
  • Perfect-bound, high quality journals
  • Chance to win a wing, twice a year

Print and Digital

From
£5.83
per month

  • Benefit from instant delivery
  • Enjoy relaxing with print magazines
  • Access to subscriber only masterclasses
  • Chance to win a wing, twice a year
SIGN UP FOR OUR INFORMATIVE NEWSLETTERS
SIGN ME UP