Kiwi paraglider Nick Neynens cappped 2014 by setting a New Zealand record for a triangle flight.
With sights like the Southern Alps, it's not hard to see the attraction for paragliding.
"Sometimes it's a really nice feeling being up there," says Neynens. "Everything's natural and you've just got amazing views and you're just sort of doing everything by feel, other times when things go wrong you'd rather be on the ground."
Neynens set the new triangle flight record in December, which involved a speed test around three set points. While the records are satisfying, they're not his main goal.
"It's also good to remember that you're doing it for fun and just to enjoy the scenery and the feeling of flying," he says.
Fun is definitely a subjective term when it comes to the gruelling Red Bull X-Alps event that Neynens will compete in, in July.
Competitors attempt to cross the 1000km length of the Swiss Alps travelling only by glider and foot – racing from 5am to 10:30pm.
"The race itself pushes you into flying in conditions that you wouldn't otherwise fly in - windy conditions that are on the limit of what the paragliders are capable of, so if you don't fly you have to walk."
The freedom to test yourself is what attracts Neynens.
"It's really an exciting race because it's making your own rules and your own decisions and it's really independence, and creativity stays with the pilot and not the comp organisers," he says.
The racers must carry their own gear but are allowed a single crew member to organise food, supply weather information and provide moral support.
"I think Nick's a pretty resilient sort of guy," says Louis Tapper, part of Neynens' support crew. "Not so much in need of a counsellor, but maybe a psychologist."
The Swiss Alps won't be completely foreign territory to Neynens; he's flown there on several trips and says New Zealand's changeable winds and topography provide the ideal training ground.
source: newshub archive