WITH just one year to go until the Gold Coast hosts the 2018 World Parachuting Championships, a pair of skydivers have marked the momentous milestone in spectacular style over Surfers Paradise.
Beachgoers gazed up in awe as veteran international parachutist Rodney Benson leaped from a plane with a massive 3,000 square foot promotional banner.
Benson landed the giant flag on the beach, where it covered an area larger than an average house and sent ripples of excitement through the gathered crowd.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Hosted by the Australian Parachute Federation (APF), more than 1,000 athletes and officials from around the world will converge on the Gold Coast for the 2018 showcase, six months after the Commonwealth Games.
The top-level international competitors will create a heart-thumping spectacle 14,000 feet above ground, as they master the ultimate challenge of freefall flight and canopy control.
They’ll compete in over 10 rounds across several disciplines, including ‘Speed Skydiving’ which debuted as an Australian test event in 2017 where skydivers reach speeds above 500km/h.
Teams from more than 40 countries are tipped to take part in the global event with all the action set to be broadcast on big screens installed around a 40,000-hectare drop zone.
The last time the World Parachuting Championships were held in Australia was in 1999. Most recently, the prestigious event has been held in Chicago, the Czech Republic and Dubai.
APF National Development Manager Robert Libeau said securing the prestigious event is an opportunity to promote the Gold Coast as a natural home for the “fastest sport on earth”.
“Winning our bid to host this event in our Commonwealth Games city is a real coup and will put the region on the world stage once again, while also elevating the status of the sport and highlighting the technological and safety advances that make it accessible for everyone to try,” Mr Libeau said.
“With today’s display flag jump over Surfers Paradise beach, we wanted to give the people of the Gold Coast a preview of all the excitement in store at the Championships, when the best skydivers in the world will converge in their own backyard.
“Looking up and seeing the huge flag flying overhead was an amazing spectacle, but for all the complexities of performing a stunt of that magnitude, what we witnessed today was just a warm-up to the Championships next year.”
Mr Libeau said the 2018 World Parachuting Championships on the Gold Coast would feature adrenalin-charged displays of all forms of competitive skydiving, from the daring thrills and spills of free falling, to the awe-inspiring acrobatic skills on show at the Artistic Events.
“From a spectator’s perspective, the beauty of the World Parachuting Championships is the colour, fast pace, and sheer amount of acrobatic stunts in the skies, then watching the spectacular free fall as these athletes swoop back down to ground level, with more than 250 individual landings to be witnessed over each of the seven days,” he said.
Australian parachutists are regarded among the world’s finest, with many represented among international top 10 rankings across the sport’s various disciplines, including Canopy Piloting World Champion Keven Walters, of Western Australia.
The seven-day event will be held at the Sports Super Centre in Runaway Bay from October 7 next year and is supported by Tourism and Events Queensland and Gold Coast Events, as well as Surfers Paradise Alliance.