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Oct 08, 2015

Strong French challenge for AAI Paragliding World Cup 2015

France accounts for one-third of world’s top 100 pilots.


The Outdoor Journal

The 14 member French team competing at the AAI Paragliding World Cup 2015 has numerous World Cup and Superfinal winners.

When it comes to paragliding, there are few countries which produce paragliders the way France does. It will be no different this time when the world’s best paragliding pilots gather at Bir-Billing for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) Paragliding World Cup (PWC 2015).

Quite easily the strongest nation in the world of competitive Aero Sports, France will have 14 pilots from among the 100-odd men who will be competing in the last week of October at Bir-Billing reckoned by most as the second-best site for the sport in the world.

That should come as no surprise, since the current Top-100 of the world has as many as 33 French pilots, which makes it one-third of the top pilots. The current squad has a series of champions, who have won World Cups and Superfinals and some others who have held the World’s No. 1 spot.


Maxine Pinot © AAI
Maxime Pinot © AAI PWC 2015

The team which will be here in Bir Billing is a fair mix of youth and experience. While a bunch of them have won or been placed in top-3 and top-5, a lot of others are at the beginning of their career.

Mr. Sudhir Sharma, President, Billiing Paragliding Association said, “The French pilots have always been a major force to reckon with and they have a great system in place for training and encouraging pilots. I am sure their pilots will be among the top contenders at AAI Paragliding World Cup.”

On the matter of training, Mr. Rajesh Srivastava, Vice President, BPA, added, “The French have also developed an efficient system for training and when we have the National Institute of Paragliding and Adventure Sports, we want to do that and get the best from all over the world.”

Two of the French pilots, who will be at Bir-Billing have won Superfinals -Maxime Pinot won the 2014 Superfinal in Turkey and Yann Martail won Superfinal at the same venue in 2010. Martail has also won two other World Cup titles.

Besides this duo, Julien Wirtz, who is still looking for his first World Cup or Superfinal success, he has held the World No. 1 spot for almost 20 months in the past 25 months making him one of the most consistent pilots in the world today.

Julien Wirtz © AAI PWC 2015
Julien Wirtz © AAI PWC 2015

Stephane Drouin, Dennis Cortella and Cyril Lambert have also won World Cups in the past. The French pilots are so consistent, that there is hardly a World Cup event, where a French man is not among the leading finishers in Top-5 or Top-10.

In addition, the likes of Frederic Sinatti, Jonathan Marin, Sebastien Coupy, Clement Latour, Emmanuel Nicolas, Julien Brung and Ludovic Farnaud, are all capable of winning, having placed well in many other competitions around the world.

Didier Mathurin, a professional coach, who has been instrumental in the growth of Team France’s paragliding, feels that one of the reasons for this has been an organized structure for Paragliding in the country. The fact that the French team has a national coach for paragliding is ample proof how seriously the sport is taken.

In a recent edition of international magazine, Cross Country, a well-known magazine on various aero sports, including paragliding, Mathurin was quoted as saying, “Yes we have a big pyramid of pilots in France. But it’s one thing to have a lot of pilots at a good level. It’s another to develop pilots to a world class level.”

Mathurin, who was a former mountain guide and ski instructor, was the coach of France’s National Hang Gliding Team till 2008 before coaching the French national paragliding team. He has been in charge since.

One of the most prolific countries when it comes to Aero Sports, France is said to have more than 25,000 registered pilots, who practice a wide variety of flying. Be it Paragliding, Hang Gliding or even Parachuting, they are among the most enthusiastic when it comes to Aero Sports.

From Press Release

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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