Porcher & Jean-Baptiste to unveil paragliding fabric

June 13, 2019 - France

Jean-Baptiste Chandelier will help to introduce the prototype of a new Porcher Sport fabric, Skytex 21, at the ninth edition of the Red Bull X-Alps 2019 adventure race that starts from June 16, 2019. Weighing just 21 grams, the new fabric will ensure that Jean Baptiste and other extreme paragliders can soon enjoy an even greater sense of weightlessness.

This year’s Red Bull X-Alps competition starts in Salzburg and ends in Monaco and will see 32 athletes navigate 1,138 kilometres of treacherous alpine terrain by hiking, trail running, mountaineering, and paragliding. All 32 athletes will be using paragliders equipped with Porcher Sport Skytex 27 fabric weighing just 27 grams per square metre, the company said in a media statement.

The introduction of Skytex 21, which is significantly lighter, will make a huge difference in an extreme sport where every gram counts and delivers a significant advantage. Its launch is planned for 2020 following further development work that is currently underway.

One USA X-Alps entrant Gavin McClurg, who also took part in the 2015 race, reports that training has been intense for the past nine months.

“My gear this year is incredibly exciting – my wing weighs just 2.85 kg which is almost half the weight of what it was in the 2015 race. It’s been estimated that this will save me over two metric tons of weight during the course of the race,” McClurg said.

“What makes Porcher Sport unique is its ability to continuously produce lighter weight fabrics from high-tenacity polyamide 6.6 yarns at our specialised weaving plants in France, in parallel with long experience in advanced coating formulations,” Olivier Gros, global head of business unit sports and leisure at Porcher Sport said.

“Other manufacturers can achieve similar weights, but they have to use much lighter yarns, so they are not as resistant and durable and they don’t age very well. Having already got down to a fabric that can meet all performance requirements at just 27 grams per square meter, Skytex 21, the new 21gsm fabric, will make a significant impact on what can be achieved. Technically it has proved challenging, but we will now be introducing it with our partner Skywalk for the 2020 season,” Gros said.

At X-Alps 2019, the 32 athletes will have to combine skill and strategy – assessing the ever-changing weather conditions and deciding where and when to take to the air each day – while overcoming injury and fatigue. (GK)