Red Bull X-Alps

Gavin McClurg: 'The worst flight of my life'

© Ludvik

Gavin McClurg had “the worst flight of my life” yesterday. “It was a frustrating day. I was on the same route as Durogati but behind him, and I got slammed by the wind.” Choosing to slope land, he then walked up to launch again. 

“And then I had easily the worst flight of my life. Every time I climbed up to 2,700m in a thermal I got hit by the wind.” Struggling through the turbulent air he found himself in the downwash – air descending behind a mountain.

“I was travelling at 60mph, and my vario was showing -22m/s.” That means he was descending at 22 metres a second – falling out of the sky. A normal descent rate for a paraglider is 1.5m/s to 5m/s.

“At one point I was aiming for a pond, thinking I would rather stall my glider into the water than have to land in these conditions or throw my reserve. Luckily, he was able to land safely.

“I packed up and then waited for a couple of hours. I thought everyone was grounded. But then Ferdi (NED) flew over my head. ”A range of hills to his east was not as windy, and so he and his supporter ran to a take off.

“I made 40km in the evening, and landed about 8.58pm. Then I started walking and haven’t stopped.” Only 20km from goal at Peille, he was hoping to hike up to a launch and fly the final leg.

“My feet are white, blistered, I’m in a lot of pain. But I’m getting to Monaco today.”

Photo: Gavin McClurg (USA2) and supporter Bruce Marks © Ludvik