It’s Official! Swiss Team Smashes Record, Wins America’s Challenge
Update 9 PM MDT Saturday, October 14 (0300Z Sunday, October 15)
The scoring process has confirmed what the ballooning world already knew: Switzerland’s Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz rewrote the record book in winning the 22nd America’s Challenge distance race for gas balloons.
Tièche andt Sciboz’s flight establishes a new distance record for the America’s Challenge, as the team flew 2,281 miles (3,670 km) to a landing near Labrador City, Newfoundland, Canada. Their distance far exceeds the America’s Challenge record of 1,998.1 miles (3,215.5 km), set in the year 2000 by the late David Levin and his brother Alan Levin. Their distance also bests the greatest distance ever flown in the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the gas balloon distance world championships. That mark, 3,400.39 km (2,112.9 miles) was set in 2005 by Belgium’s Bob Berben and Benoît Siméons in a flight from Albuquerque to Riviére-du-Loup in Quebec north of Maine.
Second place this year goes to Krzysztof Zapart of Poland and two-time America’s Challenge champion Andy Cayton of the US, who also beat the old America’s Challenge distance mark with a flight of 2,191 miles (3,526 km) to Amqui, Quebec, near the border of Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada. Finishing in third place are four-time champions Peter Cuneo and Barbara Fricke of Albuquerque, who landed near Brighton, VT after a near-record fight of 1,939 miles (3,122 km).
This race captured the imagination of people throughout the world, as the launch was witnessed by a crowd of tens of thousands at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park and watching via live stream over the Internet. All eight competing teams enjoyed long, scenic flights; seven of the eight exceeded the 1,000-mile (1,609 km) mark.
The OFFICIAL order of finish:
1. Nicolas Tièche and Laurent Sciboz, Switzerland, Distance 2,280.9 mi/3,670.76 km, Duration 59:19, landing northwest of Labrador City, Labrador/Newfoundland province, Canada
2. Krzysztof Zapart, Poland, and Andy Cayton, USA, Distance 2,191 mi/3,526.06 km, Duration 69:04, landing near Amqui, Quebec, near the Quebec/New Brunswick border, Canada
3. Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo, USA, Distance 1,939.3 mi/3,121.82 km, Duration 60:13, landing near Brighton, VT
4. Mark Sullivan and Cheri White, USA, Distance 1,609.5 mi/2,590.31 km, Duration 61:56, landing at State College, PA
5. Benoît Pelard and Benoît Péterlé, France, Distance 1,186.6 miles/1,909.71 km, Duration 57:08, landing east of Indianapolis, IN
6. Phil Bryant and Mike Emich, USA, Distance 1,103 miles/1,775.11 km, Duration 44:09, landed near Lyons, IL.
7. Wilhelm Eimers and Sebastian Eimers, Germany, Distance 1,099.5 mi/1,769.42 km, Duration 46:53, landing near Plover, WI
8. Noah Forden and Bert Padelt, USA, Distance 820.6 miles/1,320.56 km, Duration 36:02, landing west of Ames, IA
The tracking map and status page are still available for viewing on the America’s Challenge website.