04 Dec 2023

French Canopy Pilot Cédric Veiga Rios shares advice for future champions

In the world of canopy piloting, Cédric Veiga Rios is something of a giant. Physically he stands taller than those next to him on the podium, even when he is not on the top step. Yet his larger-than-life presence extends beyond his physical size: his enthusiasm and talent for the sport has seen him notch up numerous titles, trophies and medals in distance, speed and accuracy.

Cedric Veiga Rios (right) and the French team in Arizona 2023. Credit: Fédération Française de Parachutisme 

One of the best-known faces on the circuit, he has worked as an instructor and travelled widely, between Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, before returning to France and the French team.

Team support has meant 2023 has been another great year for Veiga Rios. Building on his success in 2022 as a winner at The World Games and two silver medals at the 9th FAI World Canopy Piloting Championships, he climbed onto the podium not once, but three times in Eloy, Arizona at the 5th FAI European Canopy Piloting Championships 2023, adding yet more medals to his collection in distance, speed and overall.

At the end of a challenging but successful season (he also just gained a silver at the 7th Dubai International Canopy Piloting Championships), Veiga Rios took some time to share his thoughts:

How and when did you start canopy piloting? What gives you the biggest buzz, the distance, the speed, or something else?

Since a young age, I've been drawn to adrenaline sports and activities. During the year I was living in Australia, I experienced my first skydive, and upon landing, I knew it would become a significant part of my life.

I love the challenges of distance, speed, and accuracy, especially in difficult and tricky conditions. When the wind is low I find it not challenging enough!

Cedric Veiga Rios canopy pilot
Image credit: Mike McGowan

When did you become part of the French team, and what’s your training schedule like?

I joined the French team in 2015 after years of solo training. As part of the team I commit to a rigorous 12-week training calendar each year.

You have a lot of European and World Champion titles now, and of course The World Games last year – what do you think it takes to become a champion in canopy piloting? 

Becoming a world champion in any sport demands a tremendous investment, requiring your entire life to revolve around the goal.

I switched harness types recently, making substantial changes to my training, with the aim of being ready for the 2024 World Championship.

Let’s talk about records – you have held the record for maximum distance (196.52m) since 2017. Do you plan to try and attempt any other records?

My previous distance world record was 196 metres with a standard harness which could potentially reach 205-210 metres. But while world records are nice, my current focus is on enduring titles.

Cedric Veiga Rios canopy pilot
Image Credit: Joseph Thomas

Finally, do you have any advice for people who would like to start competing?

For those entering canopy piloting competitions, I advise committing fully, prioritising sleep, avoiding alcohol and smoking, engaging in regular exercise, and extensive training with experienced coaches who never hurt themselves before!

It takes years of dedication for a shot at a world title.

What do you have planned for next year?

Looking ahead, my focus is on 2024 with the French Canopy Pilot team. We plan to resume training in March 2024, gearing up for the 10th FAI World Canopy Piloting Championship in South Africa in September 2024.

Find Cédric VEIGA RIOS on social media

List of titles (to 2023)

  • Overall European Canopy Piloting Champion: 2023
  • Overall World Canopy Piloting Champion: 2019, 2021
  • Distance World Canopy Piloting Champion: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021
  • Speed World Canopy Piloting Champion: 2019
  • World Champion with French team: 2019, 2021, 2022
  • The World Games winner: 2022
  • Distance and Speed World Records: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021
  • 6 times French Overall National Champion 
  • 4 times winner of the Pink Open

Cedric Veiga Rios canopy pilot medals

Header image: Bina Maja