Kings of the Sky

Words: Claire King | Photos: Various Contributors


The SA National Skydiving Championships 2013 is set to kick off from 29 April to 2 May at the Johannesburg Skydiving Club, situated in Carletonville.



Like last year, all FAI disciplines will be contested at the same meet and includes Artistic Events, Canopy Formation, Canopy Piloting, Formation Skydiving and Style & Accuracy Landing.


Although the national champions in these events are determined every year, this year is what we call an 'off' year. What does this mean, I hear you ask? In skydiving, the World Championships is held every second year, alternating with a World Cup every other year. Only those athletes that win in an 'on' year get to represent South Africa at the World Championships. This year is a World Cup year and as a result, there are less teams and individuals fighting it out for representation rights. Most teams compete in the non-FAI events (local development events) as part of their long-term goals or for the local title and medal, as their representation at the World Championships is never at stake.


Even though the Nationals may be smaller than a World Championship, it will be no less exciting to watch, and here's a brief overview of what we can expect at next week's event.


Formation Skydiving
Undoubtedly the most contested event is the Formation Skydiving 4-way Open event.


Team SAVOLO placed second at last year’s SA Championship and are the current favourites to win in the absence of Team Voodoo, the reigning national champions. This team was last year’s 'new combination of old favourites' who impressed us with their strong – if a little chaotic – performance. They have since flown together a little more, hopefully cleaned up and should deliver some quality scores this year, despite very limited training opportunities.


Team Jazz Republic is a new team consisting of members from a few previous teams. They have a lot of promise, but haven’t yet reached the consistency to predict a performance. That being said, they're still strong contenders for the silver medal and they'll be watching SAVOLO like a hawk, as a single careless round is all it takes to narrow a gap and see a change in the leader board.


We also expect quite a jostle for the third place in this event.


Team Peregrine is starting to reap the rewards of patience and 'foundations first' development over the last couple of years. This is so important in 4-way to progress as a performing team, and their consistency will stand them in good stead in this competition.


Team Dionysus has been flying under the radar this year so no one really knows what this team can produce on the day.


There are rumours about a strong pick-up team, consisting of previous competitors, which could just smash these predictions. We don’t expect to see consistency from a pick-up team, but bouts of high-speed performance are definitely on the cards and on the right day, with the right draw, this could definitely cause some disturbance in the medals.


Canopy Piloting
The current darling of South African Swoop, Chris Teague, is riding a wave of success on the back of his recent performances on the world stage. He will be there to defend his SA title. Chris can expect tough competition from some of the other top competitors from around the country, including previous National Champion Selwyn Johnson. This will be an important training event for Chris, who will be competing in the World Games held at Cali, Colombia, later this year.



Artistic Events
Traditionally, this is the discipline that has many enthusiasts but few who compete. Recent efforts to grow their competitive spirit are starting to pay off though. Known for their relaxed attitude, not all teams are registered as yet, so the complete line up is anyone’s guess. But we are watching the more serious teams and looking forward to seeing excellent performances from some of our most skilled freeflyers.


In the Freefly Open category - an FAI event that determines representation in the 'on' years - we only know about one (and a half) teams, the Zefflyers. This is the team to watch as they have trained for the event and are serious about competition. We expect that this event is an important part of their training plan to qualify in 2014 Nationals.


The Freefly Intermediate event has newcomer
The Mavericks coming through the ranks. They have been training seriously for two years, but have not competed before. It’s also really exciting to see some serious interest in the competition from this level of freeflyer. We hope their participation will motivate less-experienced freeflyers to start competing.


Canopy Formation
Sadly, we have not yet seen any entries for Canopy Formation this year. After a steady global decline in Canopy Formation (CF), recent efforts to revive it have been very successful internationally. We hope South African CF will follow suit in reviving this very unique discipline.


Freefall Style & Accuracy Landing
Freefall Style & Accuracy Landing is considered the 'classics' of parachuting competition. Although the civilian competitive pool is small, it is still very popular in military circles worldwide. This year, we expect quite a big military contingency in Accuracy and – unusually – some Freefall Style entries. It will be fun to showcase Style to newer skydivers, many of whom have never seen or heard of it, but have all performed one of these routines as part of their initial student progression. Our money is on old-hand Tim Mace to clean up in Style.


So that’s what we know. We’re excited to see many newcomers in the Formation Skydiving development events and are watching our intermediate teams closely, as many will move on to put pressure on the established Open category teams next year.


Historically, skydiving was a sport that excluded spectators as most of the action happened high up in the sky. These days, the scoring systems make for a simple, visually appealing sport to follow live, as the judging of the events is displayed on screens as it happens. Spectators can therefore watch the competitions rounds, follow the scoring and see the leader board as the meet progresses.


So come and join us at the Johannesburg Skydiving Club, in Carletonville, and prepare to be blown away by our local talent in what is guaranteed to be a fantastic, high-flying event that's fun for the whole family.



For more details on the event check out the Johannesburg Skydiving Club’s website You can also follow live results, news and updates on the Parachute Association of South Africa’s website