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- Nationality: South Africa
- Date of birth: 10. Nov. 1975
- Profession: Building Contractor
- Supporter: Johan De Bruijn
- Glider: Skywalk X-Alps 2
- South African Duncan Kotze has extensive adventure experience under his belt, including completing "impossible" flights and climbs. It sounds like he has the experience to battle his way into the Top 10, now he needs to show it!
- When and why did you begin paragliding?
I started flying in France in Le Grand Bornand in 1999 where I got my paragliding license. In 1998 I spent a few months working for Skysports in Oludeniz helping their Tandem pilots and there I was fortunate enough to fly as a passenger with these guys. This may sound strange, but the main reason for starting to fly is that in South Africa 1984 we had a television advert for an Aftershave called Blue Stratos that featured a Hangglider pilot flying through the Alps, and ever since then I had always wanted to fly and be outdoors. Luckily for me this seed was planted early on and a few times while I was growing up we saw hanggliders whilst hiking and climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town. By the time I was old enough, paragliding was around and more accessible so I decided that was the way to go and I've never looked back as its by far the best sport with the best people.
- Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.
Yes: best world ranking 230, current world ranking 500, current ranking in my, country 7th (consistently in top 10 for 10 years), 4th 2015 Barberton Open Paragliding Competition, 5th 2015 Western Cape Open (WCO15), 64th 2015 Paragliding World Cup - India, 14th Western Cape Open 2 (WCO14-2R), 4th 2014 Barberton Open, an so on...
- What is your mountaineering experience?
I've climbed Table Mountain, the Drakensburg and various other mountain ranges in South Africa. I was also on the Mountain Club committee at school. We regularly go absailing in the Gorges of the Baviaans Kloof in the Eastern Cape. I've also climbed Mount Snowden in Wales and done quite a lot of climbing/hiking in the French Alps.
- What is your paragliding experience?
I've been flying for 18 years and I've consistently been in the top 10 in South Africa. I progressed nicely through the comp scene and was mostly on the podium in all the classes including open. We regularly fly XC and have flown numerous flights over 200km in the Karoo (central South Africa) and other parts of SA and around the world. I've done all sorts of flying from Alpine to flatlands, hike and fly. I live in a windy place so i have experience with strong conditions both taking off and landing. I also fly tandem and take friends and family. I also do a bit of acro and free fly on our dunes.
- What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?
I regularly compete in Mountain Biking single and multi day stage races. These are anything from 1 to 7 days. Some of the events I've done are the Wine2Whales and the Sani2C. We also do some trail running and open water Stand Up Paddling in the Ocean.
- What does your typical training week consist of?
100km or more of cycling, 2 hours of swimming, 3 hours of running, 4 hours of Stand Up Paddle boarding (15 - 20km).
- What are your best and worst adventure/flying moments?
Flying my first 100km into the middle of the Karoo and having to hike home. Breaking the local site records by trying new routes. Flying an 80km flight along the Garden Route mountains that people thought was impossible. Worst: Not being able to go to the Worlds in Roldanillo, Columbia.
- What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?
Any endurance race that I thought I couldn't do but finished and did well, which has shown me that if you put your mind to it you can achieve nearly anything. Making the South African team for paragliding.
- When and how did you first hear about the Red Bull X-Alps?
Mainly through Pierre Carter who has competed twice in the Red Bull X-Alps and more recently from following Stephan Kruger who competed in the last Red Bull X-Alps. Both these guys are my countrymen and flying friends.
- Have you competed in the Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?
- What appeals to you about the Red Bull X-Alps?
The challenge and the adventure of combining the endurance and the flying but of course we are all paragliding pilots so its the flying that catches the attention and heart first.
- What will be your strategy during the race?
To analyze the weather and pick the best routes to fly and the best places to be for the start in the mornings. We'll have to consult the best guys in all the valleys prior to the race and plan all the different scenarios in advance so that when those specific situations arise we have the correct strategy for those conditions. The bottom line is you have to fly as much as possible to stand any chance of getting to the finish. My strategy is to be fit and in the best shape ever, know the valleys and local weather and to have the most competent support team possible as they are just as important for moral support and encouragement.
- On average, over a third of the Red Bull X-Alps participants fail to finish the event. Why do you think you will make it?
I think I'll make it to the finish because I'll plan everthing to the last detail, be super fit for climbing mountains and have the best support team. Other than that I'll get there on shear determination and by keeping my glider above my head most of the time.
- What scares you the most about the event?
Not getting to the finish.
- Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?
Only some local hike and fly adventure around South Africa and into the wilderness.