« great skill in speed, accuracy and distance »
Canopy Piloting involves a series of tasks designed to test a parachutist’s ability to control his canopy and fly accurately. Each task 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, or achieve the longest distance from the entry gate before touching down.
To maximise the accuracy, the competitor must successfully navigate the water section before
landing as close to the centre of the target as possible. The maximum score for speed goes to
the parachutist flying the course in the shortest time and the best score for distance will go to
the parachutist controlling the canopy to fly the maximum distance.
Canopy Piloting is a fairly new sport, 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 on display at the Games. Competitors compete over a stretch of water for safety reasons because of the high speeds involved - at the same time creating spectacular action as 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. Many of the competitors at the Games are professional parachutists or work for parachute manufacturers in the development of new canopies.