18 Dec 2023

Justin Puthod: 50 km at a speed of 43,1 km/h as a rest after work

At the end of 2023, FAI ratified both World and European General and Junior Paragliding records of Speed over a triangular course of 50 km.  End of July Justin Puthod (France) on his  Icepeak X-One / Niviuk made it with a speed of 43,1 km/h. That beats the previous record of 38,82 km by Primož Suša (Slovenia) made in 2021. He also claimed a 25 km speed Junior record but has not been ratified yet.
We have talked to Justin about his life and record-breaking. Turns out he breaks records in his afternoon free time after a normal working day...

How long have you been practicing a free-flight sport?
I have been paragliding since 2017.

What made you begin?
My father was a paraglider pilot, and when I was young, I did tandem flights with him. After 18 I started alone.

Where did you learn to fly? 
I started in the school of Pegase in particular in Allevard in the French Alps.

Who were the people that inspired you in your life and sport?
When I started, I was looking for the flights of Honorin Hamard,  Max Pinot, and Luc Armant. More about XC  performance, not competition.

What are your achievements, and titles before breaking a record?
My best result is 2nd in a World Cup and some big XC like 355 km flat triangle and 306 km FAI triangle.


Why did you decide to break that very record in that very place?
I became interested in records at the end of the summer of 2022. I decided to try small XC records because it’s easier to try and it was for learning how to do the procedure. It’s why I started with the 25km speed and 50km speed record because it’s easier to try even if you have only one afternoon free like after work. In Annecy, because it’s near to my work and the area works really well during the afternoon.

What is the previous record and where?
For the 25km, it was Charles Cazaux (47,9km/h) who has it in Aiguebelette and I sent one try for the junior category which did not exist (40,7km/h). For the 50km, I had an idea in the Bauges massif with a possible no-turn course. I wanted to try it and it works well with only 5min thermaling for 1:09 of flying! I made 43,1 km/h and the previous world record was 38,82 km/h made by a Slovenian pilot in 2021.

What flying conditions make your record different from the previous one?
I think it was a good route with a lot of ridge lines and no need to turn in thermals.

How long have you been flying in this area?
I started paragliding in this area six years ago

How long did the preparation take?
I send three times the declaration form since the spring to try the 50km and the same for the 25km. But all 3 attempts failed, as the conditions were not good.

Who worked with you during preparation?
Only me and Charles Cazaux who helped me a lot. He knows well the procedure and the area!

Have you launched alone or in the company? How far have your companions managed to fly?
I had a friend who flew in front of me during the 25km and I was alone during the 50km. 

Tell us about more the flight. If possible, provide a link to live tracking replay or xc-contest.
50km: I had the west wind in altitude and in the northern part of the triangle it entered southwest-west and it pushed me faster to catch my first turn point with some backwind and no turns. After, a bit lower I entered the brises of Annecy which pushed me in the southern part of the Bauges on the Margeriaz ridge. I caught one climb after the second turn-point, and I closed the triangle. 
I had crosswind and backwind during the whole flight to push me faster 
25km: For this World record you need to stay at all the time at full speed and with no extra turns and you must have the perfect conditions. Always with backwind or crosswind.

What was the trickiest thing in breaking this record? 
25 and 50km: Keep the speed bar and keep close to the ridge during the entire flight and to optimize thermals and not lose time.
50 km: Stay out of the Bauges reserve airspace 

What was the most difficult part of the flight?
50 km: The start because it was difficult to climb in this area and it was close to the airspace 
25 km: nothing in particular

Was there a moment when you were ready to give up? 
50km: Just after the start I wasn’t high, and I was thinking of starting again.
25km: It was tricky to go fast to the first turn point and I wanted to start again.

Was there something unexpected? Frightening? Funny? Any unusual happening?
50km: The wind was in the perfect orientations and all ridges worked well! especially for catching the south face of Rock des Boeufs and Margeriaz.
25km: not good conditions, it can be better.

What were you eating and drinking in the flight (if you were)?
Only Water because these were short flights

How did you celebrate the record? Who was the first to congratulate you?
A beer with friends. My friends

What is your next goal to achieve?
Maybe try another World record depending on the conditions.

Any advice to pilots, interesting notice, or some share of experience that you gained while breaking this record?
Try! Maybe it can work!