Strong on Cross-Country
NOVA XC Challenge 2022
The idea for the XC Challenge
With this intra-brand rating, we want to show our enthusiasm for cross-country flying. Discovering the new. The opening up of unknown routes. The conquest of new waypoints. And we want to inspire others for cross-country flying. Therefore, we made participation as easy as possible.
All you need is an account at www.XContest.org and the upload of your flights there. This means that any NOVA-pilots who submit their flights to the XContest automatically take part. Our system processes the data and evaluates them independently. Of course, it is important to name the glider correctly. Otherwise, the system can’t consider the flight if the glider name is incorrect. The scoring period is the respective cross-country flying season, not the calendar year. The winners of a category are those pilots who have claimed the flight with the most points with the corresponding model. NOVA employees and team pilots appear in the ranking, but are excluded from the competition.
Among the five winners of the 2022 season - Aurelien Nivinou (FRA, EN-A), Adrian Lutz (SUI, EN-B), Urs Lüthi (SUI, High-B), Christian Berger (AUT, EN-C) and Pierre Weiskopf (AUT, EN-D) - a NOVA PENTAGON rescue parachute was raffled as a price. The lucky winner is Aurelien Nivinou, the others get a NOVA Cap as a consolation prize.
Below you can read a review of the 2022 season, split up into the individual categories.
LTF/EN A - The surprise class: PRION, AONIC and DOUBLESKIN
The seven best flights in the EN-A class of the NOVA XC-Challenge were all made by NOVA Team pilots. French Aurelien Nivinou achieved the highest score by a non-team pilot with a 62.2 km FAI triangle from Saint Hilaire. Congratulations! The first PRION as a deignated school glider appears in 10th place, flown by János Holczinger from Hungary. And the DOUBLESKIN is by no means just a "descent aid for hike & fly" as Werner Luidolt shows in 19th place.
The biggest surprise, however, were the incredible flights with the AONIC! When we launched this High-End EN-A glider, PR-Manager Till Gottbrath orated after his first real flight that a good pilot could easily fly 230 km FAI with it... At that time, the unofficial EN-A world record was 209 km, set in 2019 by NOVA Team Pilot Robert Schaller with a PRION 3. The catch: really good pilots usually don't fly EN-A wings. In 2022, circumstances helped us: the two Swiss pilots Beni Friedli and Toni Brügger were waiting for their new gliders (XENON and MENTOR 7 Light) - and bridged the waiting time with the AONIC.
Finally, some really good pilots were piloting a modern EN-A wing. The two of them managed five flights of more than 190 km, including Toni's incredible 247.5 km FAI triangle from Riederalp (Valais) - a new, unofficial LTF/EN-A world record! During that flights, Toni left all other 72 pilots who had launched from Riederalp behind, apart from Roger Aeschbacher on his Enzo 3! Including all CCC gliders and other high-aspect ratio models. Toni also showed that the AONIC does not fly as slowly as is generally assumed: his average speed was 25.4 km/h!
Beni Friedli was also surprised by the achievable average. In the commentary on his 202.5 km FAI triangle (average 24.5 km/h) he wrote: "So I tried to keep up with the others with the AONIC, which was reasonably successful. Actually, I fly it like a two-liner – straight ahead, always full bar, controlling it with the C-risers. That's what it needed today."
In his personal season review, Toni Brügger wrote: "Looking back, the AONIC project was the best idea in years. I have never felt so relaxed and carefree when cross-country flying, and it was really fun. Provided one's attitude is right, most cross-country pilots probably wouldn't fly a kilometre less than usual - simply with more safety and fun. Unfortunately, I (somewhat recklessly) missed my goal." (By "my goal" Toni meant the 250 km FAI.)
For 2023, it will be exciting to see whether more experienced XC pilots will munch miles with an AONIC. In any case, the potential seems to be greater than generally assumed. Perhaps some talented newcomers should consider flying EN A for a little longer than usual. Conversely, some experienced XC pilots should consider whether an AONIC might not be a good choice...
LTF/EN B – The evergreen at top: ION and PHANTOM
If we at NOVA were to act as tough business people, we would have to make the result of this class "somehow invisible". A certain Adrian Lutz made the longest flight in this category with an ION 3, a seven-year-old wing! The Swiss even became the world-wide winner in the XContest.org on that 17th July 2022 with his 205 km FAI triangle!
But Adrian is not just any pilot, quite the opposite! The Swiss made history in 2006: He was the first pilot ever to fly an FAI triangle of over 200 kilometres on an EN B glider (DHV 1-2 at the time). He achieved this with our MAMBOO, our last High-End EN B wing before the MENTOR series began. Adrian then increasingly shifted to gliding planes, but gave it up in 2017 before the birth of his first daughter. "Currently, I still do 10 to 15 paragliding flights a year due to family reasons. I only fly a little bit for fun."
So, an exceptional pilot can also make exceptional flights with an older glider. We are currently trying to convince Adrian that with a newer model things will be a little easier. NOVA Team Pilot Hubert Wegleiter was able to show that. The South Tyrolean flew an ION 6 Light at the beginning of the season and was able to do some long XCs. Hubi ended up in 8th place in the worldwide standard class ranking with two of his scoring flights on the ION 6 Light. The ION series is and remains something like the unbeatable all-rounder among paragliders - uncomplicated, versatile, safe, relaxed to fly and with enough horsepower under the bonnet for long distance flights.
The list of the 30 best EN-B flights with NOVA paragliders includes a total of 16 with the PHANTOM. We did a little research: many of the PHANTOM pilots have plenty of experience: Mark Bugmann appeared in XContest for the first time in 2010, David Ryter in 2016, Beat Millius even in 2008! In addition, flying legend Steve Ham, known as the Englishman who runs https://flypiedrahita.com, submitted several great cross-country flights. Very obviously, the PHANTOM also pleases experienced pilots. We are working on its successor, which will certainly be capable to set new records and great cross-country flights.
High-End LTF/EN B – Delayed at the start: MENTOR 7 Light
The winner of the NOVA XC-Challenge in the High-End EN B category is Urs Lüthi, congratulations! The winning flight took him from Fiesch with his MENTOR 5 over 178.76 km FAI. For many years now, the Swiss has been consistently flying among the best standard class pilots in the world, including in 2022 with 9th place.
And what about the MENTOR 7 Light? The delivery problems "thanks to" Corona put a big spoke in our XC-bill: no gliders, no long flights with the new hybrid 2.5 line. In May, Urs Haari opened the MENTOR 7 Light season with an already certified pre-series glider and flew a flat 263 km triangle with an average of a whopping 29.15 km/h! Respect! Beginning of June, our test pilot Ferdinand Vogel clearly won the renowned Zillertal Battle. Since many manufacturers send their best pilots to the start at this event, we are especially proud of this.
End of July, we were finally able to deliver the first series MENTOR 7 Light. From then on, the Hybrid 2.5-Liner regularly appeared in the rankings. Our Slovenian sales partner Dusan Durkovic managed an extraordinary flight: a flat triangle from Sorica over almost 270 km with a sensational average of 33.4 km/h! We did some research and found no comparable flight.
Toni Brügger came second in the worldwide standard class ranking and won the EN B-XC championships in Switzerland. He too received his MENTOR 7 Light at the end of July, but was still able to make some longer flights. His summary: "After six years of well-considered flying of Low-End EN B wings, again a High-End EN B with the MENTOR 7 Light. Have I become unreasonable now? I am uncertain. That's why I started with initial scepticism and attention during all my flights for the slightest signs of unfavourable flight behaviour. But there were none, on the contrary!
- The wing flies very safely and stably and has no hidden quirks.
- It is simply very good and very fast!
- The high max speed also helps to close gaps to pilots flying ahead.
- But what surprised me the most was the C-riser control! It helps enormously in bumpy headwinds and is one of the biggest improvements.
- A lot more seems possible with the MENTOR 7 now...."
In any case, knowing that the MENTOR 7 (Light) offers performance in the most accessible way, we look forward to the 2023 season with great anticipation. On the website you will find, among other things, several independent test reports.
LTF/EN C – Oldie but Goldie: SECTOR
The winner of the NOVA XC-Challenge in the LTF/EN C class is Austrian Christian Berger. His best flight in points with the SECTOR was a FAI triangle with 194.15 km, started at Stallersattel. In the Austrian National Championship Christian finished 5th in the Sport class.
The best SECTOR flight in points was achieved by NOVA Team pilot Michael Pohl launching from Speikboden, South Tyrol. Micha took some pretty cool photos that show how scenic this route is. The NOVA Team Pilot actually wanted to say goodbye to XC flying, but then the XC fever reawakened in him. He only submitted four flights, but they were enough for third place in the Austrian National Championship in the Sport Class and in the Senior Category.
Another NOVA Team pilot must also be mentioned: Werner Schütz. He also proved that you can fly very far with a comparatively "old glider" like the SECTOR, which was introduced in 2018. In the German cross-country championship, Werner finished second in the Sport Class. Congratulations!
Unfortunately, we have to admit that we left the EN C pilots pretty much out in the cold lately. First, it was unclear whether folding lines would be allowed for the EN C certification, then Corona came along and caused us considerable delays in both development and production. But we are confident that things will change for the better in 2023. You can look forward to our new EN C two-liner - a real NOVA cross country wing: with a rather low aspect ratio but really high performance on strong days. Besides it is designed to be an entry wing for pilots who want get into the world two-liner flying for the first time. More about it soon on social media – stay tuned!
LTF/EN D – The new ultra-lightweight: XENON
During a test flight of the XENON, Pierre Weiskopf achieved the highest score by a non-NOVA Team Pilot. The East Tyrolean thus won the XC-Challenge in the EN D category. Congratulations! The absolute most points were scored by Timon Weber. On 19 July 2022, he flew an impressive 280 km FAI triangle from the Grente with an average of 25.2 km/h. Alok Mihani appears in the list several times. The best flight of our Indian Team Pilot was from Bir over almost 240 km.
The fact that the XENON not only offers performance as an XC glider, but is also good in competition in the Serial Class, was shown by Dusan Durkovic in Slovenia: he came 5th overall and 1st in the Serial Class at the Metuljmania Open (FAI 2 competition). Timon Weber confirmed this again in June: He won both the Newcomer Challenge and the Hessian Championships in Greifenburg after four tasks.
As an ultralight glider, the domain of the XENON is of course Hike & Fly. And that's where Pierre Gignoux shone! The Frenchman won the national Hike & Fly Championship 2021/22 against strong competition. Similar to the XContest, it is held over an entire season and the score does not count single flights, but summarizes the score of a full day. The number of points per day is calculated from the kilometres flown (multiple flights possible), kilometres hiked horizontally and the metres of altitude gain on foot. Pierre Gignoux is almost a legend as a ski mountaineer - both as an athlete and with his company www.PierreGignoux.fr. It builds carbon ski touring boots and is considered the "Ferrari" among SkiMo athletes. On this basis as a competitor, Pierre was able to quickly develop into a top athlete in terms of Hike & Fly. The XENON as a comparatively easily accessible EN D two-liner has helped him to achieve this.
From the very beginning, the XENON project had Nick Donini on board. At the Red Bull X-Alps 2021, the adventure ended abruptly when Nick landed very badly when trying to avoid the cable of a material ropeway. Since then, the young Italian has made a great recovery, finishing 8th in the Dolomiti Superfly, winning the Salewa Hike & Fly Trophy and qualifying once again for Red Bull X-Alps 2023. NOVA athletes Patrick Sieber, Heli Schrempf, Andi Viehböck and Simon Raffeiner were also able to prove the performance of the XENON time and again at various Hike & Fly competitions.
It is a pity that the XENON in sizes 20 (80-105 kg) and 22 (95-115 kg) has only been delivered since November 2022. Pilots with a higher take-off weight had to switch to other gliders before then.
Finally: It’s all about having fun!
We have now written a lot about long flights, great rankings, many kilometres flown and high average speeds. But the most important thing is the excitement of paragliding – whether it's a relaxed cruise in the thermals on your local flying site, a wonderfully quiet hike & fly glide in the evening or an epic record flight.
We would especially like to call out to all those for whom "performance" is less important: Go for it! The best pilot is the one who has the most fun! In this spirit, all the best for 2023 with great flights and always "Happy Landings".
Your NOVA Team