MAASIM, Sarangani – Considered the best fly site for paragliding in the country, Sarangani is all set for the first ever International Paragliding Accuracy Competition this coming weekend.
Some 40 pilots, close to 30 of them coming from 14 countries from all over the world, will vie for the individual and team championships and crown themselves as first winners of the country’s latest air sports competition.
Randell Raymundo, president of the Air Sports Association of the Philippines, said the event will be the first international competition of its kind to be hosted by the Philippines.
“This will also serve as our showcase as we bid to be part of the international paragliding competition circuit next year,” Raymundo said.
The competition will be held at the mountain ranch of San Andres Fishing Industry Inc (SAFII) in Siguel, Maasim.
Participants will take off from a 998 meters above sea level (asl) mountain top overlooking Sarangani Bay and will attempt to land at 300 asl hitting a dead center target no more than 30 centimeters in diameter within five minutes of takeoff.
Already confirming their participation are pilots from Australia, China, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, USA and the host Philippines, who will send in at least 10 participants.
Competition proper runs from August 22-24.
Participants get seven attempts, with the lowest aggregate for the best six flights declared as winner of the top prize amounting of US$1,000 both for individual and team honors.
Best fly site in the country
With 300 days of flying opportunities throughout the year, Sarangani is becoming a popular destination for paraglide pilots and enthusiasts.
“Wind consistency and directions are major factors in considering the fly site,” Raymundo said while winding up preparations for the competition.
He described the fly site in barangay Siguil in Maasim as “almost perfect.”
The other fly sites in the country are in Carmona in Cavite and the one recently opened in Bontoc, Mountain Province.
Raymundo said Sarangani’s competitive edges over the other sites are its virtually year-round availability and different take-off directions.
“We have three take-off points depending on the wind direction,” he explained.
The landing site, some 700 meters below the takeoff point is a spacious 4-hectare flat clearing making landing safe for pilots and enthusiasts.
Sarangani Gov. Steve Solon has thrown in his support for the event, which Raymundo said could also serve as a tourism attraction.
“If we can host one of the three Asian legs of world paragliding competition, we can expect more than a 100 participants,” Raymundo explained.
Spaniard David Geaupera, one of the early registrants for the competition, made two flyovers on Friday, August 15, and was all praise for the competition site.
“The landing is very tricky,” said the expert pilot.
He and Raymundo teamed up to win the team event in the Vietnam leg of the international circuit earlier this year.