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10th FAIWorld Cup of Canopy Piloting 

Pretoria, South Africa - 20-24 November, 2019

Canopy Piloting is a high speed discipline involving small and very agile parachutes and highly trained pilots to fly them. The competitions are held over a stretch of water for safety reasons and can be watched from just a few meters away from the ground. The athletes accelerate their parachutes by flying one or more steep turns and then plain out over the surface of the water to enter the course. Three classic disciplines define the champion of canopy piloting, that is Accuracy, Speed and Distance.

In the last years, Freestyle, another discipline that shows artistic elements has become popular.

The official training day was completed (successfully) in spite of a big thunderstorm that rolled around all afternoon followed by heavy rain that lasted all night.  Most competitors had been in S. Africa training for several days or even longer and had done a number of jumps and go used to the site and the weather that can sometimes be tricky.

Late afternoon, the competitors meeting and the Opening Ceremony were conducted in an open-sided tent but in spite of the damp, the atmosphere was warm and exciting.  The MC, Irish, welcomed everyone giving some details about the competition and those present (22 participating nations and 91 competitors in total). He then introduced the Meet Director, Angélique Sharman, who gave a general and safety briefing followed by the Chief Judge, Bjorn Korth, who introduced all his judging panel and briefed the competitors on judging matters. Irish then introduced each nation represented by a  flag bearer marching through the tent. This was followed by the oaths that were read out by Zeljko Tanaskovic for the Judges and Nicolas Gallo from France for the competitors. 

The Meet Director, Angélique Sharman, who is also one of the key organisers of the competition, then made a short speech welcoming everyone and explaining how the adventure of organising this competition started. She received a very warm applause.  Gillian Rayner then took the floor. As Jury President, she introduced her fellow jury members and declared that the Jury had received confirmation from all the officials that the competition could begin. Then as IPC President, she expressed IPC's gratitude to the organisers,  Angie and Billy Sharman and Mike Teague for all their hard work in making this competition happen. She then thanked Peter Lawson, who had organised a very successful CP meet on the same drop zone in 2008 and who has been a very helpful mentor to the organising team.

To conclude she declared the competition open and asked everyone to stand for the FAI anthem. 

On day 2 the wheels up was scheduled for 6am but the rain of yesterday had not given up and the first call was moved to 8am.  At 8am, the rain had stopped but the visibility was poor due to the humidity. The sun gradually burned off the mist and just after mid-day the first round of accuracy was called. Unfortunately the wind was not favorable and after the first load, the round was stopped. The meet director decided to go for a round of Distance and the course was modified to accommodate that. The round kicked off and ran successfully for almost the full round.  Unfortunately a storm closer to Johannesburg caused airline traffic to be diverted and the aircraft on the drop zone were put on hold for a short while unfortunately just before the top jumpers were due to jump. After about an hour, jumping became possible again although ominous dark thunder clouds could be seen on the horizon. From then on things went fast and the distances covered got longer and longer. Cornelia Mihai came in on an excellent run and went on to break the current world record (175,99m) achieving 176,36m. She was not the last jumper in the round so everyone was on tenterhooks waiting for the final jumpers to perform including the current world record holder and the last world champion. No-one did as well so the world record was confirmed in both the General and the Female categories. Congratulations to Cornelia.

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