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The Blériot Cup is an annual competition between Britain and France, which has been running for more than thirty years. Originally a hang-gliding competition, it now involves a team of both hang-gliders and paragliders from each country.
In August 2005, the Blériot Cup came to Col de Bleyne with Britain hoping to retain the trophy, won in 2004. After a few days training, flying at Col de Bleyne, Lachens and Gourdon and eating large quantities of barbecued trout at Les Basses Beaumettes, the competition got under way. Five tasks out of five for the paragliders and four out of five for the hang-gliders confirmed the area's reputation for good weather.
Day One. The tone of the competition was set on the first day, when the competition went up to St. André due to forecast westerly winds. In the paragliding task, Kelly Farina waited a couple of minutes to allow himself and Craig Morgan to cross the goal line simultaneously in order to maximise their points. It was scarcely necessary, as Jaques Fournier and Jerome Sarthe, for France, arrived three quarters of an hour later. Even with only three British pilots in goal to four French, the day was resoundingly won by the British.
Meanwhile, despite some battery-charging problems, the British hang-gliders also secured a healthy lead over the French in their task with a goal back at the base in Thorenc.
Day Two. On the second day, the competition returned to St. André, with more westerly winds forecast. With all batteries fully charged, the British hang-gliders comprehensively beat the French as they secured the top three positions in the task.
At the same time, the British paragliders were resting on their laurels at the goal in St. Andre with four pilots in goal to France's three, and no other pilots sighted in the air for more than an hour after the last one had landed. However, the smugness quickly evaporated as Agnes Aubry and Julien Senzier hove into view. They made goal two hours after anyone else, and turned the tables on the Brits for the day.
Day Three. On the third day, the hang-gliders went to Lachens, only to be defeated by strong winds there.
Meanwhile the paragliders managed a short 35 km cats cradle around Gourdon. Final glides into goal had to be finely calculated, and at least one pilot baled out of their final glide resulting in a trip to the bottom landing field. With all their pilots in goal, the Brits greatly extended their lead.
Day Four. The hang-gliders returned to St. André, this time remaining in the area, with a goal in Thorame Basse. Once again, the Brits got everyone into goal and greatly stretched their lead.
At the same time, the paragliders went to Col de Bleyne. A great-looking sky over-developed a little too rapidly, and nobody made goal in the end. Alex Coltman won the day, and with only two French pilots in the top eight, the paragliders lengthened their lead too.
Day Five. On the last day, with fairly strong winds forecast, the paragliders went to Gourdon again, and the hang-gliders went to Col de Bleyne.
In Gourdon, only Steve Etherington made goal, followed by Neil Roberts and Kelly Farina. At Col de Bleyne, the only three pilots in goal were all British: Patrick Buxton, Stephen Penfold and David Sheilds.
At the end of the day, Britain retained the Blériot cup with a lead of 35281 points to 24922. The top paraglider pilot was Kelly Farina, and the top hang-glider pilot was Stephen Penfold.