Competitive canopy piloting is a serious business. Flying a modern sport parachute that has been optimized for extreme performance in competition at the highest level of skill and experience, involves a kind of dedication to task that pushes beyond what most normal people would consider as sensible. Within a high level canopy piloting competition, is an ever-present element of risk management required to succeed. Split second decisions made in white-hot moments of all-or-nothing pressure that can mean the difference between climbing a podium or being carried away on a stretcher. The inherent risk in doing this stuff seems to have a strengthening effect on the community. And there are few extreme sports activities with a top-shelf as supportive and inclusive at as the swoopers.
is a comparatively small part of the skydiving world. But their presence amongst the community is strong. That’s why many active contributors to both the commercial and sport sides of the industry can be found around the globe. This involvement can also be seen in the attention to detail shown at this competition: It’s just a small core team bringing everything together on time for a smooth and professional event.
is an agreeable dropzone nestled behind the commercial bustle of Wonderboom airport – which sits a little over four thousand feet above sea level. This elevation with a density altitude approaching as much as seven thousand feet combined with intermittently cross and downwind conditions, made for some very interesting days of competition. There are gusts at times rolling bumpily over nearby hangars. They can either create some frustration during accuracy rounds or provide a huge push from behind to aid with the breaking of records in both: distance and speed – efforts contributed to by CYPRES athletes Cornelia Mihai and Mario Fattoruso respectively.
With the performance rounds all complete on time – utilising early call times to avoid the regular and spectacular afternoon storms.
Freestyle canopy piloting is arguably the most exciting discipline to watch out of any kind of skydiving. With the competitors drawing upon thousands and thousands of practice jumps to demonstrate a connection to and understanding of their equipment that is as much a sport as anything could be. German pilot and CYPRES athlete Max Kossidowski did incredibly well amongst a very strong field to take home a silver medal.
when flying your parachute above the ground as fast as possible, can easily be very serious. Over the competition days, a few people got taken away by ambulance. But seeing them return to the dropzone after brief hospital visits with efficiently repaired parts of their skeleton. With this many people training and competing for this amount of time, injuries are to be expected. While a selection of people required patching up – fortunately everyone walked away from these incidents.
from all over the globe heading to South Africa for this – the 10th World Cup specifically for swoopers – this particular scene within skydiving is healthy and growing. For the first time in an IPC parachuting event, the whole thing was live streamed – drawing the attention of many thousands of viewers from around the world. Being treated not only with spectacular flying, but also with some very entertaining commentary.
looming ever closer, the competitors are now turning their attention to the training they can achieve between here and next summer. The particular location requirements and technology involved for canopy piloting competitions means that far and away the best training environment for the swoop community are the meets themselves. This has the effect of motivating those who wish to improve to travel more and contribute to the scene, giving the community a strong family vibe. Almost everyone involved in competitive canopy piloting is self-funded. Also a lot of people invested in improving their skills, travelled a long way to be a part of this World Cup. In the end, they were ultimately rewarded by participation in a well organised and professional competition, taking place at a beautiful and interesting location on the skydiving map.