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.

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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.”