The skies above southern Africa are set to host one of the most spectacular aerial races on the planet this summer as the World’s only long distance paramotor race, the Icarus Trophy, visits the continent for the first time.
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.
After three hotly contested editions in the United States, the last won by paramotoring legend Tucker Gott, July 2018 sees the Icarus Trophy migrate across the Atlantic to take to the skies above southern Africa.
Like its predecessors the race will be roughly 1000 miles long, depending on the route contestants choose, but the 2018 edition, which begins just north of Johannesburg, before heading over Botswana and Zimbabwe and finishing near Victoria Falls in Zambia, will have the added complication of pilots having to cross international borders. As compensation the route will take in some of southern Africa’s most iconic landscapes, including the Kalahari Desert, numerous mountain ranges, the Okavango Delta and salt pans, and give contestants views of these environments and their wildlife like no other.
The race is split into two divisions; one for more experienced pilots racing for glory and an Adventure Division for the less seasoned racer who wants to take things at a more ‘leisurely pace’. Racing Division pilots are expected to cover the 1000 mile distance in a few days, with the record standing at a rather incredible four, whilst those in the Adventure Division will take around 10 days to fly the course.
Bringing the Icarus Trophy to Africa means ‘adventure’ remains at the heart of the 2018 race for all pilots and it is for this reason The Icarus Trophy is a largely unsupported event. As the organisers point out…
“Probably the key part of any adventure is the adventurous bits. And that means setting out into the world and fending for yourself. Anything else becomes a bit less exciting. It starts to remove all the fun bits, like ‘where the hell will I sleep?’ or ‘what do I do now I’ve run out of fuel?’ And it starts to become a bit of a guided tour.”
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 your course, provide you with an SOS tracker, should you need emergency assistance, and send you 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 you if you land in the middle of the desert, so best pack some sandwiches.
How to get involved
You don’t have to have flown a paramotor before to get involved in the Icarus Trophy, at least in the Adventure Division, and the organisers’ website www.icarustrophy.com details everything you need to know to get yourself off the ground and experienced enough to take part. All you really need to get going is a head for heights, a spirit for real adventure and a fairly massive set of cahoonas.
For experienced pilots, head over to the same site to find out about how to enter the 2018 Icarus Trophy or one of the Icarus-X Series events that will be happening over various weekends in the UK, USA, Australia and, the latest addition, South Africa.
Novice or expert, or just want to watch some awe inspiring footage of people flying, follow the link to watch what The Icarus Trophy is really all about – https://youtu.be/v5T1wB22D8c
- 22nd July – Launch Party
- 23rd and 24th July – Pre-race Training
- 25th July – Launch
- 1st August – Finish
- 2nd August – Contingency Flying Day
- 3rd August – Finish Party