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- Nationality: Belgium
- Date of birth: 20 June 1985
- Profession: Pro paragliding pilot / adventurer
- Supporter: Donatien Carme
- Glider: Gradient XC6
- Sponsors: Red Bull, Volkswagen, Garmin, Gradient, Sup'Air
When and why did you begin paragliding?I started flying when I was 15 years old. Today, at 33, I can say that I've been a bird for half of my life! I was always fascinated by the mountains. It's for me the best way to explore this amazing playground.
Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.In 2007, I was the youngest participant at Red Bull X-Alps. I've joined the following editions since then: 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and I'm happy to be part of this adventure in 2019! I'm a big fan of crossing a large mountain range with my paraglider, all in total autonomy. The competition brings something more and the spirit helps me reach my limits. That's what I'm looking for.
What is your mountaineering experience?In 2011, I broke the record of the longest flight in the Himalayas in Pakistan. (226km in the Karakoram). In 2013, I embarked on a solo crossing of the Pyrenees in total autonomy, just hiking and flying. That same year, with Ferdy Van Schelven, I crossed New Zealand's South Island from south to north. 2014, I spent three months in the Pacific islands, flying in Tahiti, in the Marquesas and in the Toamotus Later in 2015, along with Paul Guschlbauer, I circled the Adriatic Sea on a trip from Ancona and back across Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia... In 2016, I broke my personal record of high altitude flight in the Himalaya: 7,445m. I also really enjoy mixing mountaineering and flying. I climbed Mont Blanc in one push from the valley to the summit in 2016 and flew down back to my car...
What is your paragliding experience?I stopped counting a while ago but I have been flying thousands of hours. I flew my first XC when I was 15 and, since then, my glider took me all around the world. I have covered more than 10.000 km doing hike and fly... (6x Alps, 1 solo crossing of the Pyrenees, New Zealand's South Island, the Alps, the Adriatic Circle, the Karakoram, Colombia, etc...). Today I live on a sailboat and travel the world with the SEARCH team to discover new flying spots. Paragliding is my life.
What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?6 Red Bull X-Alps.
What does your typical training week consist of?I don't like to go to the gym... But I love to be outside! I have no typical training week as I enjoy all the activities that the mountain has to offer. Climbing, hiking, running, kayaking, flying etc. But still, for me the real training is with real conditions. There is nothing like getting lost on a 3 week trip in the mountains.
What are your best and worst adventure/flying moments?I had my fair share of accidents... I broke my back and spent weeks in the hospital. Later, I lost part of a finger on a rock fall during a climbing trip... But the worst will always be the loss of a friend. The mountains are not mean but they can be dangerous. The best adventure memory would be the time I broke my personal high-altitude record in Pakistan (7,445m)! The view was like no other and the feeling of self accomplishment was incredible.
What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?Crossing a big mountain chain solo, like the Pyrenees! Learning how to sail and start a trip around the world. My first bivouac flight in the Himalayas (crossing of the 3 biggest glaciers on earth after the poles).
When and how did you first hear about Red Bull X-Alps?Once you enter the paragliding world, you just know about the Red Bull X-Alps... everyone talks about it. It's the toughest race of our sport.
Have you competed in Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?Oh yes! 6 times already since 2007.
What appeals to you about Red Bull X-Alps?The mental challenge! It pushes the the limits of our sport.
What will be your strategy during the race?I have a few strategies planned... after some past mistakes I can only learn from them so I get better. I'll do my homework and leave no place for improvisation.
Why do you think you will make it to the finish?Preparation is the key to success. I'll prepare properly.
What scares you the most about the event?A bad crash. We push the limits of paragliding very far and we fly mostly in conditions you wouldn't normally. This year will be no exception as it will happen in June (earlier than ever) and we can expect a lot of snow in the mountains.
Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?You can always train more and get better, but I think that I'm now at my best physical and flying level. With the years comes the experience - and you never have enough of that when it comes to participating at Red Bull X Alps.