‘This is the second Dubai International Parachuting Championship and Gulf Cup, after the success of the event last year,’ says Yousef Hassain Al-Hamadi, chairman of the organising committee for the championships, and president of the Emirates Aviation Association. ‘The competition is split into three categories: accuracy landing, formation skydiving – which is completed in teams of four – and canopy piloting, which involves landing on water. Each is judged on speed, distance, accuracy and, for the first time, style.’
But how exactly do you judge a competition like this? While hurtling down beside them? ‘We use electronic equipment to accurately measure each performance, down to the very centimetre,’ Yousef explains. ‘For the formation diving, as well as the judges on the ground, we have cameramen who dive and video the movements.’ Surely this must be one of the world’s most dangerous competitions? ‘This is safer than F1,’ says Yousef. ‘Everyone is qualified, and these are the best competitors in the world.’ The UAE team ranks high in Yousef’s estimations. ‘I predict the UAE will come inside the top three.’ What’s more, the prize money is higher than in any other parachuting contest, at a generous US$320,000 (Dhs1.2 million).
The best bit? It’s free to watch. Spectators are invited to head down to Skydive Dubai from 8am to sunset daily until Sunday January 16 (or Saturday 15, if things go smoothly). This weekend there will also be an airshow from 4pm-5pm and Arabic bands from 7.30pm onwards.
To whet your appetite, we bring you stunning shots taken by Skydive Dubai’s in-house photographers, so you know what it all looks like from up there.
See www.eaa.ae or www.skydivedubai.ae