The Utah Cup

About the Cup

The Utah Cup is a year-long cross-country soaring competition sponsored by the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (UHGPGA). All current members of UHGPGA are entered in the Cup. Pilots must be current members of the UHGPGA at the time of the flight to be eligible. Temporary or short-term membership, as well as annual membership, qualifies.

The purpose of the Cup is to recognize outstanding cross-country accomplishments, and to share the experiences and the knowledge gained. The format is unstructured and low-key. Winners receive no money or prizes, only a plaque and the respect of their peers. Actually, the real prize is the flying.

The Utah cup is composed of the following classes:

Open Class - All paragliders and hang gliders
Serial Class – EN-D three riser configured paragliders, including EN-C paragliders with an aspect ratio of 6.4 or higher, and equivalent HG
Sport Class – EN-C including EN-B paragliders with an aspect ratio of 6.0 or higher, and equivalent HG
Basic Class – EN-A paragliders, and EN-B paragliders with an aspect ratio less than 6.0, and equivalent HG

The Utah Cup Trophies will be awarded at a club meeting to the UHGPGA hang glider or paraglider pilot who has had the longest Utah flight this year. It will remain in his or her possession for one year and will then be passed on to the next winner, and so on… The winning pilot's name with the year and mileage are engraved onto the trophy. Separate awards will also be given for the longest qualifying flights of: Rigid Wing Hang Glider; Flex Wing Hang Glider; and Paraglider.

History of the Cup

The Birth of the "Cup"

In the summer of '83, Larry Tudor, a local Utah pilot at the time, flew 221 miles from Walt's Point (in the Owens Valley of California) to Austin, Nevada, thereby setting a new official world's open distance record. He also won the Owens Valley Classic that year, which was one of the most prestigious and competitive XC contests being held at that time. Cross Country flying was rapidly catching on everywhere as the ultimate Hang Gliding experience. It was in '80 or '81 (the records are quite fuzzy prior to 1983) when the first long flights were being made here in Utah. Mike Tingey, Chuck Simms, and Tony Sanders had all made flights exceeding 100 miles from Graff Peak near Cedar City. In 1982, Larry Tudor and Gordon Boyce privately formulated and sponsored a year long local Utah XC contest which was called the "Utah Cross Country Odyssey" which would bring cash and/or prizes to the pilots entered who recorded the longest flights of the year. Additionally, all those entered received a custom Tee-shirt. As it turned out, 1982 was not a very good year in Utah (there were no flights over 100 miles), but the idea of a local XC competition did appeal to many members of the club (Utah Hang Gliding Association). Then in 1983, two avid local XC pilots (Ray Attig and Tony Sanders), came up with an extension to the idea and presented it to the club. The idea was for the club to sponsor an ongoing contest which would stimulate more local pilots to experience the joys of flying XC. This idea was adopted in 1983 by the club and was christened: "The Utah Cup". It is still going today.

"The Utah Cup"

The purpose of the Cup is to act as a simple catalyst to get the typical "point rats" (you know who you are!) to go fly somewhere else for a change, cut the umbilical cord connected to the primary LZ, and then fly away! The Cup rules were designed to make it as safe and simple as possible. The format was to be "low-key" where you could launch from any site on any day. The only requirement was that you must launch from within the state of Utah. There will be no cash or prizes awarded to the winners. (Cash reward could push some pilots to take unnecessary risks, or might lure in outside professional killer XC pilots. Remember, this is an event by and for local pilots.) If at the end of the year your flight was in one of the top three places, you would receive (in addition to the respect of your peers), a nice plaque to proudly display on your wall. Then, if you were lucky enough to have made the longest flight overall, you would be given the prestigious honor of possessing the Utah Cup Trophy for the entire following year. The trophy was to be passed on from year to year (forever in theory). There were two classes established, "A" and "B". To give less experienced pilots a fighting chance to win a plaque, "B" class could only be entered if you never had a flight over 50 miles. Anyone could enter "A" class. In 1995 a "C" was added for Paragliders. From 1995 to about 2006, there were two Utah Cups awarded each year, one for HG and one for PG.  Since that time, it has reverted back to a single cup for the longest flight by either HG or PG.  In 2015, three additional classes were added (Serial, Sport and Basic) to include both HG and PG flights.

Everything changes

It is actually amazing how little the Cup has changed over the years. Except for some minor tweaks to the rules, it is the same now as it was back in '83. The only changes were as follows: 1.) When towing started to become popular, tow flights were made acceptable. 2.) When the F.A.A designated the airspace around the Salt Lake City Airport to be a terminal control area (TCA, now called "Class B" airspace), a rule was added that flights within this airspace would not be allowed as valid Cup flights.

Utah Cup Winners

Year Winner Miles
2016 Cody Mittanck (P) 195
2015 Cody Mittanck (P) 182.8
2014 Bill Belcourt (P) 174
2013 Chris Galli (P) 192
2012 Chris Galli (P) 199
2011 Bill Belcourt and Chris Galli (P) 173
2010 Bill Belcourt (P) 159
2009 Bill Belcourt (P) 134
2008 Bill Belcourt (P) 114
2007 Jeff O’Brien 219
2006 Lisa Verzella (HG) 107 Ken Hudonjorgensen (PG) 73 mi.
2005 Steve Rathbun 160
2004 Steve Rathbun 183
2003 Lisa Verzella (HG) 128 Ken Hudonjorgensen (PG) 51 mi.
2002 Steve Rathbun 135
2001 Lisa Verzella 156
2000 Heiner Biesel 153
1999 Lisa Verzella (HG) 151 Ken Hudonjorgensen (PG) 30 mi.
1998 David Taylor (HG) 81 Ken Hudonjorgensen (PG) 54 mi.
1997 David Sharp (HG) 135 Ken Hudonjorgensen (PG) 35 mi.
1996 Bill Scott (HG) 169 Hal Franklin (PG) 60 mi.
1995 David Taylor (HG) 178 Ken Hudonjorgensen (PG) 67 mi.
1994 Charlie Baughman 162
1993 Charlie Baughman 178
1992 Charlie Baughman 147
1991 Steve Rathbun 111
1990 Bob Schick 101
1989 Michael Boyle 153
1988 Steve Rathbun 139
1987 Tom Gardner 122
1986 Jeff Roberson 126
1985 Val Stephens 112
1984 Jeff Roberson 57
1983 Ray Attig 88

Utah Cup Rules

  1. The Utah Cup is a year-long cross-country soaring competition sponsored by the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (UHGPGA). All current members of UHGPGA are entered in the Cup. Pilots must be current members of the UHGPGA at the time of the flight to be eligible. Temporary or short-term membership, as well as annual membership, qualifies.
  2. The purpose of the Cup is to recognize outstanding cross-country accomplishments, and to share the experiences and the knowledge gained. The format is unstructured and low-key. Winners receive no money or prizes, only a plaque and the respect of their peers. Actually, the real prize is the flying.
  3. The Utah cup is composed of the following classes:Open Class - All paragliders and hang gliders
    Serial Class – EN-D three riser configured paragliders, including EN-C paragliders with an aspect ratio of 6.4 or higher, and equivalent HG
    Sport Class – EN-C including EN-B paragliders with an aspect ratio of 6.0 or higher, and equivalent HG
    Basic Class – EN-A paragliders, and EN-B paragliders with an aspect ratio less than 6.0, and equivalent HG
  4. The Utah Cup Trophies will be awarded at a club meeting to the UHGPGA hang glider or paraglider pilot who has had the longest Utah flight this year. It will remain in his or her possession for one year and will then be passed on to the next winner, and so on… The winning pilot's name with the year and mileage are engraved onto the trophy. Separate awards will also be given for the longest qualifying flights of: Rigid Wing Hang Glider; Flex Wing Hang Glider; and Paraglider.
  5. The flight must start in Utah but may end anywhere.
  6. The flight must not violate Class B airspace.
  7. Flight details are sent to the UHGPGA Secretary, who will score the Utah Cup. The Utah Cup is informal and run on the honor system. Flight verification is not required, but if you have it, it will help dispel any doubt cast upon your claim.
  8. Flight distance is measured in a straight line from launch to landing, rounded down to the nearest mile.

*Image Courtesy of Loren Cox - All Rights Reserved

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