Nick Neynens (NZL1) poses for a portrait during the Red Bull X-Alps in Wagrain, Austria on June 11th, 2019

NickNeynens

veteran2 Races
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15th
NZL1
nz
  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Date of birth: 08 November 1982
  • Profession: Meteorologist
  • Supporter: Ben Neynens
  • Glider: Ozone Zeolite MS
  • Sponsors: EchoX iPhone app

When and why did you begin paragliding?In 2007 after I found out how paragliders are so light and how ideal they were for exploring my favourite mountains in New Zealand.

Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.Top ten placings in X-Berg and X-Pyr (2014), Red Bull X-Alps 2015 and 2017. Only person to fly 200+km in New Zealand and current open distance and triangle records.

What is your mountaineering experience?Numerous alpine scrambles, mostly solo, particularly in New Zealand. Mt Tasman in NZ 2006. Mont Blanc Gouter route (2008 solo, 2009 flew from summit), Mont Dolent (2015). I’ve travelled through dozens of countries navigating my own way through the backcountry, but generally I avoid technical climbing - it’s too slow!

What is your paragliding experience?The majority of my flying is in new places away from established sites. The focus is more on interesting and varied flying rather than logging hours or distance. Flying fast is brilliant fun but exploring new territory and getting close to stunning scenery is what it’s all about. I’ve flown all around the world, with over 1000 hours since 2007.

What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?Dad introduced me to the mountains in New Zealand and we even spent some weeks hiking the Alps back in September 1996. My backcountry tramping experience has set me up for vol bivouac. I believe that this is the best way to understand how to manage yourself in the mountains. I’m more a seasoned tramper than a highly tuned athlete. According to the 2017 race statistics I flew the most and walked the least.

What does your typical training week consist of?I avoid “training” as such, but I get a lot of incidental exercise in vol biv trips from time to time. You need to be fit enough to be comfortable taking strategic risks during the race - if you are ready to walk back up you’re more likely to have a go.

What are your best and worst adventure/flying moments?The best moments are when you do feel you have a connection to the landscape. I love exploring the world but still dream of returning to the rugged and pristine Southern Alps. Vol bivouac is quite useful for learning how to deal with disappointment, but that’s what makes a good story.

What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?I’m proud of having an independent style and engaging with the audience: In Red Bull X-Alps 2015 I was awarded Best Sportsman, then two years later my Mum and brother were awarded Best Supporters.

When and how did you first hear about Red Bull X-Alps?I heard about the Red Bull X-Alps after I started flying and the event to me captures the essence of paragliding, unlike traditional competitions. I became good friends with Lloyd Pennicuik (2007 and 2009 editions) from our local flying club. I'm a keen follower and we trailed the 2011 event as a group of six flying mates. I closely watched the 2013 live tracking while wintering in Antarctica. While racing I would also like to keep an eye on the live tracking!

Have you competed in Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?Yes, 2015 (10th, Monaco), 2017 (9th, over 1000km completed)

What appeals to you about Red Bull X-Alps?The race explores the limits of flying in all kinds of conditions and gives full creative license to the pilot. Everyone seems to think you’re going through hell but in reality you’re being treated like royalty with nothing to worry about but hiking and flying. I like that and what’s more I love to entertain.

What will be your strategy during the race?Like last time the most important thing is to have fun. Themes include having a balanced perspective, simplicity, safety, efficiency, and style. Planning, analyzing, and optimizing is a fun part of preparation.

Why do you think you will make it to the finish?So far so good - I’m used to being responsible for myself and answerable to my own needs.

What scares you the most about the event?I’m still scared of cables, but I think the most dangerous part of this event is the driving, with distractions and fatigue. I’ll do my best to be a good athlete for my supporters.

Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?Vol biv is often more committing than the X-Alps as you do not have the support and infrastructure when travelling solo in far away countries. X-Alps is more strenuous but having a set goal and a motivating audience helps a lot - I wouldn’t normally walk on the road in the rain!

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