Worthing Birdman winner in court to claim £30k prize

The Argus: PROOF? A still from the video shot by Hot Dog Media PROOF? A still from the video shot by Hot Dog Media

A hanggliding enthusiast claims he is owed £30,000 prize money by the Worthing Birdman competition, a court heard.

Stephen Elkins competed in the popular seaside event in 2009, with the jackpot on offer to any competitor who flew 100m from the pier.

He claims he flew about 102m and is owed the prize money, but organisers Worthing Town Centre Initiative said they had measured his flight at 99.87m, an agonizing 13cm short of the prize line.

At Brighton County Court yesterday representatives for Mr Elkins said the measuring tools used by the event were “not fit for the purpose determining distance in this competition”.

Hugo Page QC, speaking on behalf of the claimant, said the device, called a Winklefix, had an error margin of plus or minus 3m.

He added: “The readings taken by it, which are also wholly uncheckable, are useless for determining where the flight ended within that range.”

The claimant argued the true distance travelled could be determined using five factors - the length of the tether of a buoy marking the 100m point (argued to be 8m), the buoy being anchored at least 100m from take-off and probably further, the position of a video camera that captured the flight, the distance south of the buoy line (argued to be 11m or less) and Mr Elkin's head apparently 1m past the buoy.

Previously in the case two experts had agreed these points would lead to a distance flown of about 102.7m, meaning Mr Elkin should have been awarded the £30,000.

Clifford Darton, representing the defendant, said the use of the Winklefixes, a builders' tool used to plot a point, was in the competition's terms and conditions and using five other points “all got rather vague”.

He said: “Winklefixes remained the best option. Contractually that was agreed.”

He likened the scenario to a fan with mobile phone footage trying to overrule the decision of a try after a rugby match had ended.

Mr Darton added: “Whether this comes down to the best view [of Mr Elkin ending his flight] was from the pier or the 100m mark or the lido where the camera was on, what is absolutely certain is the best view is not hindsight, and that is what you are being asked to try this case on.”

The case continues.

Comments (5)

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8:22am Thu 5 Dec 13

Gary Manilow says...

The guy obviously did it but they're trying to weasel their way out of paying. Someone should ask in court for proof that the organisers even had 30k to give out, I bet they didn't.
The guy obviously did it but they're trying to weasel their way out of paying. Someone should ask in court for proof that the organisers even had 30k to give out, I bet they didn't. Gary Manilow

10:08am Thu 5 Dec 13

whoee! says...

I hope he wins the day plus costs he deserves it.Good luck!
I hope he wins the day plus costs he deserves it.Good luck! whoee!

10:37am Thu 5 Dec 13

The Real Phil says...

Most of the entries seem to be whacky, eccentric or just plain ridiculous. Of course they should pay up, but it seems highly unlikely. What is stranger is that it has taken so long for someone to make a serious attempt using a hang glider which have been around for decades and have proven flying ability.
Most of the entries seem to be whacky, eccentric or just plain ridiculous. Of course they should pay up, but it seems highly unlikely. What is stranger is that it has taken so long for someone to make a serious attempt using a hang glider which have been around for decades and have proven flying ability. The Real Phil

9:17am Fri 6 Dec 13

gheese77 says...

Quibbling over 13 cm just makes worthing look mean
Give him the money
Quibbling over 13 cm just makes worthing look mean Give him the money gheese77

6:12pm Mon 23 Dec 13

Icaro1 says...

Are there aby updates on this yet?
Are there aby updates on this yet? Icaro1

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