Following on from last year’s race, held in Gauteng and Limpopo and won by famed climber Alard Hufner, this weekend sees the 2019 Icarus X Race Series visit the Golden Gate National Park for the first time, as paramotorists take to the skies above this incredible landscape.
For those not in the know, paramotoring is effectively flying with a motor tied to your back and a paragliding wing above your head and is growing rapidly as a sport.
The X series was created on the back of the popularity of the Icarus Trophy, the world’s longest paramotor race, and features several shorter-format stand-alone race events across the globe.
Organised by the Adventurists, in partnership with Parajet Africa, this weekend’s race will see participants follow a stunning 350km two-day course. Taking off on Friday the 17th from Bethlehem Aerodrome, pilots will follow a roughly circular route skimming the Lesotho border and flying over the Golden Gate National Park, giving racers unique views of the Maluti Mountains and their wildlife, before finishing at Claren’s Golf Course on Saturday evening.
The event itself is split into two divisions – one for the more experienced pilots who are racing for glory and an Adventure Division for the less seasoned racer who wants to take things at a more ‘leisurely pace’.
Adding to the action, all competitors must carry their own food, clothes, a way to sleep (although if you land near a hotel there’s nothing in the rules against you sleeping in luxury) and basic parts to fix their paramotors should anything go wrong.
The organisers, The Adventurists, do however track the pilots’ course, provide SOS trackers should they need emergency assistance and send specialised weather reports. There’s also a ‘support truck’ which follows the competitors just in case there is a major incident – it will however probably take a while to reach them if they land in the middle of nowhere, so best pack some sandwiches.
The winner of the race class will get a free entry into the Icarus Trophy, the mother of all aerial adventures in 2020, which is taking place in Brazil.
The race is set to have an international field of competitors present, but all eyes will be on returning winner, South African climber Alard Hufner, who is hoping to add another medal to his paramotoring trophy cabinet.