The ArgusWorthing Birdman devastated to lose 'spurious' flight fight (From The Argus)

Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.

Worthing Birdman devastated to lose 'spurious' flight fight

The Argus: Steve Elkins takes off Steve Elkins takes off

A hang-glider pilot who claims he completed the Worthing Birdman challenge and is owed the £30,000 prize has lost his case.

Steven Elkins competed in the famous competition in August 2009 when any entrant who flew 100m or further stood to win the prize.

Judges on the day declared Mr Elkins flew 99.86m –14cm short – but he maintains he flew past the 100m mark.

He took organisers from the Worthing Town Centre Initiative (WTCI) to court but lost his case as judge this week ruled he did not fly far enough to claim the prize.


Did this story make you chuckle? Here are some more recent quirkies to tickle your fancy:


The ruling, handed down by Judge Simpkiss said he was “not satisfied” Mr Elkins flew the required distance.

He added: “Even if I am wrong and there is now evidence to justify the prize being awarded the evidence did not exist until long after the end of the competition. It was far too late for there to have been a successful challenge by that stage.”

The judgement came as a relief to the WTCI yesterday, which could have faced a huge hike in insurance costs, which may have threatened the running of the birdman event, if the prize had been awarded by Judge Simpkiss.

Chris Spratt, chairman of WTCI, said: “The Birdman event is free to spectators and provides fantastic family fun whilst raising the profile of the town and raising thousands of pounds for charities.

“The WTCI see themselves as guardians of business and public funds that are used for the good of Worthing and the last thing we wanted was a legal case wasting money because of a spurious claim.

“We had no option but to defend our position vigorously and we are pleased that a judge has found our actions to be credible. We can now get on with our objectives and championing Worthing town centre.”

Mr Elkins said he was “pretty devastated” by the verdict having vociferously put his claim across for nearly five years.

He added: “I am very frustrated. I do not think they understand the ramifications.

“The ruling is very peculiar and hard to understand but perhaps I am too close to the case.”

Mr Elkins said costs for the case had not been awarded yet but hoped he would not have to pay both sides’ legal expenses.

He added: “I am not optimistic.”

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:22am Wed 26 Feb 14

Pebbles says...

Isnt there a difference between flying and skimming? In any case, the prize money is far too big for a fun'd' raising event.
Isnt there a difference between flying and skimming? In any case, the prize money is far too big for a fun'd' raising event. Pebbles
  • Score: 1

11:38am Wed 26 Feb 14

rayellerton says...

Why put up a big prize then bleat about it when someone claims it?
Why put up a big prize then bleat about it when someone claims it? rayellerton
  • Score: 7

11:54am Wed 26 Feb 14

Man of steel says...

Pebbles, what would you call a Russian Ekranoplan, a boat or a plane?
I understand, from a previous news article, that the camera on the beach was put at an angle, not at 90 degrees from the buoy, meaning that everybody will look as if they dropped short, but the organisers used a builders tool called a Winklefix, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3 per cent, that's 3m, so to win the prize, the flyer would probably have to go over 105 metres.
Pebbles, what would you call a Russian Ekranoplan, a boat or a plane? I understand, from a previous news article, that the camera on the beach was put at an angle, not at 90 degrees from the buoy, meaning that everybody will look as if they dropped short, but the organisers used a builders tool called a Winklefix, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3 per cent, that's 3m, so to win the prize, the flyer would probably have to go over 105 metres. Man of steel
  • Score: 6

11:36am Thu 27 Feb 14

Pebbles says...

Man of steel wrote:
Pebbles, what would you call a Russian Ekranoplan, a boat or a plane?
I understand, from a previous news article, that the camera on the beach was put at an angle, not at 90 degrees from the buoy, meaning that everybody will look as if they dropped short, but the organisers used a builders tool called a Winklefix, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3 per cent, that's 3m, so to win the prize, the flyer would probably have to go over 105 metres.
I thought the purpose was to fly rather then skim? I think the purpose is in the actual name of the event. "Bird Man". I have no idea of the rules though. It could indeed be that skimming, swimming by back-stroke or crawl is included in the rules. Although I would consider that you have to get all of yourself/your contraption over the marker which would make the event very clear. Anyway... its a fun event even if people only make it 10 foot off the pier!
[quote][p][bold]Man of steel[/bold] wrote: Pebbles, what would you call a Russian Ekranoplan, a boat or a plane? I understand, from a previous news article, that the camera on the beach was put at an angle, not at 90 degrees from the buoy, meaning that everybody will look as if they dropped short, but the organisers used a builders tool called a Winklefix, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3 per cent, that's 3m, so to win the prize, the flyer would probably have to go over 105 metres.[/p][/quote]I thought the purpose was to fly rather then skim? I think the purpose is in the actual name of the event. "Bird Man". I have no idea of the rules though. It could indeed be that skimming, swimming by back-stroke or crawl is included in the rules. Although I would consider that you have to get all of yourself/your contraption over the marker which would make the event very clear. Anyway... its a fun event even if people only make it 10 foot off the pier! Pebbles
  • Score: 2

4:20am Sun 2 Mar 14

mampam says...

There were 2 types of competition at this event .One was a fun event and one was a serious competition with big money at stake . The competitors spent a lot of time and money on making these aircraft. to achieve their flight.

It was in the rules that touching the water did not count against them so 'skimming' as you call it was allowed. Steve Elkins' glider continued to move forwards under the power of the air ie.'fly' for some distance after the flight was judged to have ended. See the slow motion video. Sharon Clarke misled the public on national TV by using a still shot of before the flight had ended.
The judges have broken their own rules and he should have been awarded the prize
The glider
There were 2 types of competition at this event .One was a fun event and one was a serious competition with big money at stake . The competitors spent a lot of time and money on making these aircraft. to achieve their flight. It was in the rules that touching the water did not count against them so 'skimming' as you call it was allowed. Steve Elkins' glider continued to move forwards under the power of the air ie.'fly' for some distance after the flight was judged to have ended. See the slow motion video. Sharon Clarke misled the public on national TV by using a still shot of before the flight had ended. The judges have broken their own rules and he should have been awarded the prize The glider mampam
  • Score: 1

4:39am Sun 2 Mar 14

mampam says...

Continuation from above-- The glider also was seen on the video to drift away from the direction of the pier after it had come to a standstill. This showed quite clearly that the current was in fact moving away from the pier and not towards it as the judge Mr, James Brooks wrongly stated. Why has he never publically corrected this? Another case of misleading the public or just incompetence?.
How far due you think the buoy would have drifted further than 100m in that strong current?. Probably several metres. That would have shown his flight to be well past 100m .
Continuation from above-- The glider also was seen on the video to drift away from the direction of the pier after it had come to a standstill. This showed quite clearly that the current was in fact moving away from the pier and not towards it as the judge Mr, James Brooks wrongly stated. Why has he never publically corrected this? Another case of misleading the public or just incompetence?. How far due you think the buoy would have drifted further than 100m in that strong current?. Probably several metres. That would have shown his flight to be well past 100m . mampam
  • Score: 1

8:03pm Fri 21 Mar 14

Icaro1 says...

Pebbles wrote:
Man of steel wrote:
Pebbles, what would you call a Russian Ekranoplan, a boat or a plane?
I understand, from a previous news article, that the camera on the beach was put at an angle, not at 90 degrees from the buoy, meaning that everybody will look as if they dropped short, but the organisers used a builders tool called a Winklefix, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3 per cent, that's 3m, so to win the prize, the flyer would probably have to go over 105 metres.
I thought the purpose was to fly rather then skim? I think the purpose is in the actual name of the event. "Bird Man". I have no idea of the rules though. It could indeed be that skimming, swimming by back-stroke or crawl is included in the rules. Although I would consider that you have to get all of yourself/your contraption over the marker which would make the event very clear. Anyway... its a fun event even if people only make it 10 foot off the pier!
It would appear that the rules said this before the competition took place:

1.13 The Aviator will be deemed to “cease to fly” when they stop moving forward and have any significant part of their legs or body immersed in the water, or when additional force is gained from any swimming stroke, push or jump from any obstacle.
1.14 Touching the water does not count against a competitor during a flight and is discounted in all measurements. Video footage will be available to the Judges in the event of any dispute.
2.1 To achieve the £30,000 Jackpot Prize of flying the furthest beyond the 100 metre mark, the Aviator’s head must reach or cross over the measured 100 metre mark inside the prescribed course.

Had no idea that rules could be changed retrospectively.

Just saying.
[quote][p][bold]Pebbles[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Man of steel[/bold] wrote: Pebbles, what would you call a Russian Ekranoplan, a boat or a plane? I understand, from a previous news article, that the camera on the beach was put at an angle, not at 90 degrees from the buoy, meaning that everybody will look as if they dropped short, but the organisers used a builders tool called a Winklefix, which has an error margin of plus or minus 3 per cent, that's 3m, so to win the prize, the flyer would probably have to go over 105 metres.[/p][/quote]I thought the purpose was to fly rather then skim? I think the purpose is in the actual name of the event. "Bird Man". I have no idea of the rules though. It could indeed be that skimming, swimming by back-stroke or crawl is included in the rules. Although I would consider that you have to get all of yourself/your contraption over the marker which would make the event very clear. Anyway... its a fun event even if people only make it 10 foot off the pier![/p][/quote]It would appear that the rules said this before the competition took place: 1.13 The Aviator will be deemed to “cease to fly” when they stop moving forward and have any significant part of their legs or body immersed in the water, or when additional force is gained from any swimming stroke, push or jump from any obstacle. 1.14 Touching the water does not count against a competitor during a flight and is discounted in all measurements. Video footage will be available to the Judges in the event of any dispute. 2.1 To achieve the £30,000 Jackpot Prize of flying the furthest beyond the 100 metre mark, the Aviator’s head must reach or cross over the measured 100 metre mark inside the prescribed course. Had no idea that rules could be changed retrospectively. Just saying. Icaro1
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree