UAE Hike-and-Fly: ‘Insane’ 300m hotel launch revealed

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Pilots including Patrick von Känel and Seb Ospina check out the launch on Saturday. Photos: Instagram / Michael Sigel / Adi Geisegger

The inaugural UAE Hike-And Fly International Championships has been forced to change its planned first task less than 24-hours ahead of the start after pilots saw the competition’s first launch site.

Organiser Gui Padua confirmed that following a pilot meeting pilots would now not be scored on the flying part of the urban hike-and-fly challenge. Instead, they will simply be scored on how fast they complete the hiking/running element.

The UAE Hike and Fly International is an ambitious attempt to bring the spirit and action of Red Bull X-Alps style paraglider adventure-racing to the incredible landscapes and city-scapes of the United Arab Emirates.

The task ... launch, fly to the beach, tag a turnpoint, and run back to the hotel. Photo: Aaron Durogati / Instagram

The task … launch, fly to the beach, tag a turnpoint, and run back to the hotel. Photo: Aaron Durogati / Instagram

Twenty-five of the world’s best hike-and-fly racers have been invited to take part in the competition, which starts Sunday 21 November. See the pilot list here.

The male-only line-up includes a host of Red Bull X-Alps faces including stars like Chrigel Maurer, Aaron Durogati and Antoine Girard.

Over the next week pilots will fly in three or four different locations in the UAE, starting with downtown Dubai.

Launch is on top of the 300m Address Beach Resort, Dubai. Photo: Address Beach Resort

Launch is on top of the 300m Address Beach Resort, Dubai. The take-off run is 3-4m. Photo: Address Beach Resort

The task for Sunday was initially to run to the top of the 77-storey five-star Address Beach Resort before launching from the top, flying down to a turnpoint on the beach and running back to the hotel. The circuit was expected to take less than an hour.

However, after pilots saw the launch on the top of the hotel for the first time on Saturday the rules were changed so they now don’t have to fly to score.

Sharing pictures and footage on social media, the launch platform was revealed by pilots and the organisers to be a collection of flat planks above a sheer 300m vertical drop.

Patrick von Känel checks out the 300m drop. Photo: Michael Sigel / Instagram

Patrick von Känel checks out the 300m drop. Photo: Michael Sigel / Instagram

On Instagram Chrigel Maurer, seven-time Red Bull X-Alps champion, diplomatically said the launch would be “a challenge”.

“I think how it will be tomorrow with the competition and the stress. The wind is coming up [the front], but on the ramp it is a bit lee. So it is not so easy.”

He added: “Maybe not to be the first here will be a good tactic.”

Other pilots shared footage of themselves leaning over or sitting on the edge of the launch. One said: “This has to be the craziest take-off for a paragliding competition ever. [A] 300m high building. This is where we are supposed to fly from tomorrow … Insane.”

One non-competing pilot who was on the roof of the hotel with the competitors told Cross Country: “All of the pilots were very quiet when they arrived at the launch site.”

'Don't do it!' Pal Takats reacted in shock on social media. Photo: Pal Takats / Instagram

‘Don’t do it!’ Pal Takats reacted in shock on social media. Photo: Pal Takats /…



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