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Felix Wimberger finished 2nd in the Adventure X-Race!/h1>

Felix Wimberger has only been flying for two years but already clocked in more than 150 hours on his Soar. The X-Race in Salzkammergut (Austria) was his first hike-and-fly comp and he ended second in the Adventure category. An amazing achievement of which he decided to tell us the story.

The X-race is a Hike & Fly competition across Salzkammergut (Austria). The 2023 edition offered 2 routes, the Adventure and the Pro Race. A great opportunity for pilots to get a taste of the Hike & Fly racing scene, and to explore the beautiful Salzkammergut from the air.

“Friday morning, the car was filled with equipment, and my supporter Alex and I drove to Lake Wolfgang for the X-Race. The weather forecast for the upcoming weekend looked promising. The task contains three turnpoints through the Salzkammergut, which offered an interesting challenge.

The race started in the valley, and we quickly hiked up to the first turnpoint, Zwölferhorn. Most of the athletes had to endure the strong sun, but intense sunshine meant good flying conditions. Unfortunately, the wind was stronger than forecast, making the first flight a challenge against the strong headwind. After about two hours, I got stuck in a lee side just before a valley crossing. With barely 50 meters above the ground, I managed to reach the other side. Thanks to the strong valley wind, I was able to soar up and stay airborne. However, clouds had already covered the sky, causing the thermals to weaken gradually.

Another competitor was flying just above me, aiming straight into a valley with apparently limited landing options. With my mind focused on racing, I followed the other pilot, which led me to my tightest landing spot ever. Thankfully, my AirDesign Soar’s precise landing behaviour allowed me a super smooth flare, straight into raspberry bushes. Untangling the lines took me ages though.

Nevertheless, when I started to hike again, I checked the livetrack and realized that most of the other competitors had landed at the beginning of the tight valley, several kilometres behind me. At that moment, I knew I was already in a very good position on my way to turnpoint two, Loser. After approximately three hours of fast-paced hiking, I arrived at the turnpoint and signed in as second. This achievement was rewarded with a delightful glide into the sunset, followed by a long run on the flats until the clock struck 9 pm, marking the beginning of the mandatory night rest.

The breakfast on the following day was a cocktail out of some muesli and hike of about three hours towards turnpoint three, Feuerkogel. While hiking on the flats, I joked with Alex that if conditions were good in the morning, it might be possible to fly in one continuous push to the goal. When we reached Feuerkogel, still in second place with a comfortable time gap to the third, we were way too early, so parawaiting was on the plan. Meanwhile, the other competitors caught up. In total, there were five pilots fully prepared and ready for take-off, but nobody was certain if it was already working or not. Everyone understood that this flight would’ve been crucial for determining the final ranking.

After one hour, the group took off, the thermals were already quite strong, but accompanied by a lot of wind. At around half the way, one pilot got stuck in a lee side and was forced to land, leaving four of us in a head-to-head battle. The critical point was the last crossing of the lake, where we needed enough height to glide over it without risking a water landing. I was still in second place and observed the race leader attempting the final glide. With a comfortable advantage over the third-place competitor, I pushed the speed-bar to the maximum over the lake and landed near the centre of St. Gilgen. From there, I only had to run a few hundred meters to cross the finish line as the second-place finisher in the Adventure race”.