Pretoria Skydiving Club hosted the second installment of the National Skydiving championships, the first took place in Rustenburg earlier this year. Canopy Piloting also known as “swooping” is relatively new disciplines to skydiving competitions. Canopy Piloting made possible by the development of smaller and faster canopies in the mid 1990's. The discipline was originally called "blade running" but soon evolved into the format used today. Competitors compete over a stretch of water for safety reasons because of the high speeds involved - at the same time creating spectacular action as the parachutists whizz across the surface of the water, leaving a plume of spray behind them.
This discipline requires a high level of skill and experience with many national federations insisting on a minimum requirement of 500 parachute jumps before allowing a competitor to enter a Canopy Piloting Event.
Canopy Piloting involves a series of tasks designed to test a parachutist's ability to control his canopy and fly accurately. Each test starts with the parachutist navigating through a number of gates which are situated over water. The parachutist has one of three goals, depending on the task, complete the course in the shortest time, therefore having the highest speed; complete the water section and then land on a target as accurately as possible; achieve the longest distance from the entry gate before touching down.
The competition was held in two classes Intermediate and open, generally the open class is for the very serious “swoopers” with extremely high speed canopies and the Intermediate category is for jumpers with more conventional canopies.
Graham Field from Skydive Rustenburg walked away with the laurels in the Intermediate competition achieving 441.551 points in total (228.599 for accuracy and 212.952 for speed) his closest rival, DeWet Davel with a respectable 370.164, Third place belonged to Quinton Henning with a total of 303.000
The Open Category was dominated by Chris Teague Achieving top marks with 900.000 (300.000 for accuracy, speed and distance). Matteo Pagani in second place with a total of 631.623, in third place was Warren Hitchcock with a score of 489.843, fourth and fifth belonged to Billy Sharman and Bailey Edmunds respectively.
The Nationals were held in conjunction with the Peter Lawson Cup which is an annual event held by Pretoria Skydiving Club to celebrate Pete’s life and dedication to the development and continuous growth of the club and sport in general.The Peter Lawson was divided into three categories, two and four way formation skydive and wing suiting.
Throughout the day visitors were taken for tandem jumps in a bid to get more people to take up skydiving.
Pretoria Skydiving club use a PAC 750 as a “jumpship”, the aircraft was used continuously throughout the two days climbing to approximately 14000 ft then diving down and sometimes beating the jumpers to the ground.
Many previous members of the club form all ages joined for a reunion making for a very festive affair.
The event was sponsored by Parachute Systems as well as Air Team, Harri Viljoen, James Meyer and Jimmy Parrella all donated great cash prizes for the winners.
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