I started jumping when I was 16 years old, and started approaching canopy piloting when I had maybe 200 jumps. Around the time I was starting out in skydiving in 2002, the PD Factory Team started. For me, when I watched the videos of those guys – that started the dreams for myself and my passion in skydiving. When I was 16 years old until now – I am 33 years old – canopy piloting for me is a passion. It is a discipline. I love to use a high performance canopy, and I think it is my continued dream in life. This is now my second year in the PD Factory Team. I started in 2018 – both me and my brother Armando. I still cannot believe it.
My first competition was the Italian Nationals in 2005. This was the first Italian Nationals Canopy Piloting and because there wasn’t a pond in Italy we went to SkyDive Fano and did it on the beach. It was fun because we had to fly at a diagonal – first over the water and then up onto the sand. It was very hard to drag with legs though, because of the waves. I remember the zone accuracy was judged without the drag because it was not possible. 2005 was a long time ago though, and we didn’t have our specific rules in Italy so we did what we could. I competed with a Velocity 90. My wing load was very low, 2.3 or 2.4.
My first international competition was in 2010 in Russia at the World Championships. I was not a professional skydiver at that time, but there I saw a lot of people – Jay Moledski, Shannon Pilcher, the kings of swooping. For me this was being a baby in a candy shop. It was very impressive, all of the time there seeing my dreams – the PD Factory Team, the Icarus canopy team. I remember I didn’t do much training jumps, but I stayed all day long watching those skydivers, those champions landing. For me, it was wow. In that competition I scored very badly – I got 4 or 5 zero scores but it did not matter because I was learning so much.
And 4 years later in 2014 was my second International swoop meet and I finish in 20th position with my Velo Comp 79 and my brother 21th in n. 105 competitors. In everyone’s eyes we were real stars because we were in the top20 with that wings.
A year later in 2015 I won my first international medals (3 silver and 1 gold at World Cup and European Championship in Montreal) with only 100 jumps with my new petra 66 and I finished in 6th place in the Overall.
For this competition, for myself, I am happy but not super happy. Before we began my goal was to be in the top 5 of the world. I came in 9th, but I did get a bronze medal with my country team. This is the first time in canopy piloting that Italy has got medals. I am really happy with my teammates – my brother, Armando, and the other guys, younger guys like Francesco Italia. It was his first international competition – doing only 270 degree turns – and we got a bronze medal. Also, I am now the holder of the world record for speed! For myself, I am super happy with this title, for me and my country and the PD Factory Team. I still cannot believe it. It was the last round of the speed event of the whole competition. I remember removing the camera from my helmet to reduce resistance. More speed, less resistance. So I don’t have any video from my point of view of that round. On the plane, I said to myself that this is the last round of speed, the last round of competition and I am in 10th place so I have nothing to lose. Go big or go home. I remember during navigation I looked at the windsock and I saw for the first time I had completely downwind for a speed run. The round before I got head wind and I was not fast. I could not lose that opportunity so I got down fast to take advantage of the opportunity.
This year I started to train the Mutant harness with my teammate Pablo Hernandez who taught me how to use it for canopy piloting. This year I competed in 5 competitions around the world and so far I only use it for the speed event. I have now 152 jumps. It is very impressive, very powerful, but it is very challenging to use. It is very sensitive – you get a faster turn but it is much easier to make a mistake. Next year I will start to train distance with the Mutant. I tried this in training for the last French Nationals in September, and found it is difficult to stay down through the gates. It is for sure the future of skydiving and canopy piloting though I think – and I use it for my Freefly and FS jumps also.
Canopy piloting is at a very high level now because we have super high performance canopies. For competition, I use the PD Peregrine. In speed, for example in South Africa, in the training jump for speed, it is best to use a small canopy with a high wing loading. In training, I use my Peregrine 64 with extra weight – loaded at 3.4. Due to the elevation (over 4000ft) I felt it was faster but not more controlled. The day after I use a 67 – a little bit bigger. The wind loading was at 3.3, 3.2, and was feeling really good. For the speed, I use 67. In distance rounds I use a 75/71 and zone accuracy a 79 – because using the small canopies is too fast. There is always a lot to consider because of the conditions, for example in Pretoria I got the world record with my bigger speed canopy – the PI67.
For myself, in the last round – the speed event – the pressure was way down because I had nothing to lose. For myself, I do better when I don’t have too much pressure and I am relaxed. This is the last round, go big or go home!