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2nd FAI World Championships in Canopy Piloting


Whilst the results of the 2008 FAI World Championships in Canopy Piloting at the end of this article are an accurate indication of the various achievements in individual performances, they don’t even come close to describing the emotions, challenges and uncontrollable variables which the competitors faced every day.


Spectators and competitors alike were kept on the edge of their proverbial seats. With stakes this high, and facing a global pool of incredible talent, just one slip in concentration, one mediocre performance, one missed gate or over-stepped mark could cost you the entire competition. The surprising & shocking performances just kept rolling in – both good and bad – to the point that I could hardly bear to watch the last two rounds. Can you just imagine how the jumpers must have been feeling?

Completing 196 loads and 1824 jumps, Pretoria Skydiving Club hosted what can only be remembered as a resounding success. At 4,500ft above sea level the beautiful course which Mike Teague has nurtured painstakingly over the past 2 years had always held the potential for record breaking swoops. Amazingly the thin, hot air which most local jumpers will tell you is the norm in the highveld, was nowhere to be seen.  Competitors enjoyed near coastal conditions during both the 2 weeks of training and competition.  By no means does that mean no records were broken. No fewer than 8 times were distance and speed records toppled during the course of the competition. In fact, if we had had judges and the right equipment during training this number would be substantially higher as several individuals clocked well over 170meters in distance and under 2.05 seconds in speed.

Although there were 6 cut-aways in total, and 4 pretty hair raising incidents during speed rounds and practices, there were no serious injuries at all. The weather seemed to play along for the sake of the spectators, because clear days at the beginning of the competition would certainly have meant there would have been nothing to please the crowds on Saturday. So even though the jumpers, organizers, judges and officials were becoming despondent, I think the guy upstairs knew what he was doing when he blessed us with unpredictable conditions. The last day of competition dawned warm and clear, and with one round of each event left to complete even the most seasoned of competitors found themselves in a very unusual position.

If there was a competition based on National performances, the USA would most definitely have set the pace. In the final results, the top 20 included 4 Americans (two of which took silver and bronze respectively), 2 Canadians, 2 South Africans, 2 Australians, 2 Swedes, 2 Italians, 2 Belgians and one jumper each from Brazil, the UK, Spain & Venezuela.  South Africa won their first medal in a World Championship since the 1980’s, with Christopher Teague walking away with a Bronze in the Distance event. An unfortunate zero score in the last accuracy event for Chris saw his 5th position overall tumbling to 15th place, 3 places behind Rob Kruger. Rob had a consistent competition, which was recognized, along with that of Christopher’s, as being impressive enough to have both guys invited to the World Air Games, which is to be held in Italy in June of 2009.

The huge team effort from an organizers and sponsors point of view was amply rewarded by the general consensus of a spectacular event : I am incredibly proud to say that the platform for this auspicious event could not have been set on a more spectacular stage. So impressed were the FAI and CP Committee and judges with the location, climate, organization and attendance at this event that theirs must have been an easy decision in brining another world class event to SA at the end of November, when we can all look forward to Johannesburg Skydiving Club hosting the World Cup. Unlike the Championships, any individual may enter. As the competition is not restricted to the top 8 performers of any given country, I am convinced it is going to make for an even more diverse and certainly just as entertaining a competition.

Canopy Piloting is the newest, most visual and undoubtedly the most cutting edge discipline in our already adrenaline pumping sport. With the world class performances which South Africa has already managed to achieved (our amateurs against their professionals!) we are expecting great things from our amazing sportsmen in 2009.
Watch this space 

Accuracy Event
1st – Jay Moledski (Canada)
2nd – Goran Schwartz (Sweden)
3rd – Peter Allum (Italy)

Speed Event
1st – Pablo Hernandez Moll (Spain)
2nd – Jay Moledski (Canada)
3rd – Shannon Pilcher (USA)

Distance Event
1st – Nick Batsch (USA)
2nd – Cameron Rolfe (Australia)
3rd – Chris Teague (South Africa)

Overall Placing
1st – Jay Moledski (Canada)
2nd – Nick Batsch (USA)
3rd – Greg Windmiller