Compiled by Willie Bodenstein. Photos supplied
One hundred and seventeen entrants from twenty-seven countries competed in the 4th FAI Pan-American Paragliding Championship that was held from the 8th to the 14th March in Baixo Guandu, Espirito Santo, Brazil.
Baixo Guandu is located in the Center-West Region of Espírito Santo, 186 km from the state capital. With a tropical metamorphic and sub-humid climate, the city is in a mountainous region with stunning landscapes including numerous waterfalls and is the ideal location for paragliding.
With uncertainties at the beginning of the competition, despite possibility of inclement weather, only three days were eventually lost to rain and unsafe flying conditions. The fear of spreading the Coronavirus the competition was another huge concern and various measures were put into place to ensure that organisers and participants acted responsibly. Overall, the competition was a success.
Day one, 8 March
Competitors were anxious to start but unfortunately the weather intervened and the day's tasks were cancelled.
Day two, 9 March
The task for day 1, at a distance of 37 km, initially seemed to be an easy one but an hour's rain delayed the start and the conditions were at best marginal when competitors eventually took to the sky. Argentine Juan Ignacio Ortiz, flying an Ozone Enzo 3 was the only pilot to make the goal. Good news was that the forecast for Tuesday and day three looked promising though.
DAY 03, 10 March
The forecast was almost spot on. Early morning conditions, although overcast, was good and the sun showed its face in the afternoon. The day's task was 47 km long and although there were some reservations by some competitor's, their doubts were ungrounded. The day belonged to Brazilian Rafael Saladini who flew an Ozone Enzo 3.
DAY 04, 11 March
The weather on Thursday, Day 4 was brilliant, lifting the spirits of the competitors, some of who had travelled from Russia, New Zeeland and Japan. The day's task at 65 km was the longest by far and it produced the third winner of the competition when Russian Gleb Sukhotskiy completed the task in 2hours 3 minutes piloting his Ozone Enzo 3. The best Brazilian was Frank Brown, flying from a Boomerang 11, finishing only 36 seconds behind Gleb Gleb Sukhotskiy.
DAY 05, 12 March
The day started with good expectations, but the task committee was concerned as rain was forecast. The task was a 55km race and some competitors were aloft when it started raining. The task was immediately cancelled and participants were advised by Judge General Marcelo Ratis to return to base. It was the right decision as the rain soon bucketed down. All participants safely retuned to base. That evening there was a huge party at Competition HQ.
DAY 06, 13 March
With just one more day to make up the difference, pilots pulled out all the stops and raced against time to improve their performances and most crossed the finish line separated by seconds, the differences between them are very marginal. The Friday task of 60 km was won by Marcelo Vidal, with his Ozone Zeno in 1h55m. Each task by then had a different winner. The Russian Gleb Sukhotskiy, was the men's overall leader and the UAS's Bianca Heinrich the lady's leader.
DAY 07, 14 March
Saturday's Task, the fifth of the competition, was about 63 km long and it being the last day to improve on one's position, the competition was fierce. The day's task, as has now become customary, produced its fifth winner when Poland's Washington Peruchi completed the task in 1 hour 50 minutes. Making it a clean sweep for Poland was Marcella Uchoa, who finished first in 1 hour 54 minutes winning the ladies class.
CEREMONY, 14 March
After 5 events in these 7 days of the 4th Pan American Paragliding Championship the winners were announced. The Russian Gleb Sukhotskiy, won the mens class and Argentine Shauin Kaothe the ladies.
1st Brazil Team - 2nd Venezuela Team - 3rd United States Team
1st: Tafael Saladini BRA
2nd: Frank Brown BRA
3rd: Cristiano Ricci da Silva BRA
1st: Shauin Kao ARG
2nd: Joanna di Grigoli VEN
3rd: Bianca Heinrich USA