Spanish Open Nationals 2007By Rob McVey on 2007-05-11
Secret Ingredients for the perfect Spanish Open Canopy Piloting National:
- A 400ft man-made water feature
- 1 Casa,
- 2 Pilatus Porters,
- 30,000 Watts of Red Bull sound system,
- 500 litres of beer
- and dash of Spanish sunshine.
- Mix well.
Canopy pilots from across the globe descended on Skydive Lillo for this year's perfectly primed competition. The fully equipped drop zone hosted five action packed days of non-stop swooping including upgrading their existing pond to 15 feet, with a new accuracy pit, competition speed carving course and freshly fitted gate alarms.
The 16 competitors including Spain, UK, USA, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria and Columbia arrived for training a few days prior to the competition. It's unsure as to whether the rumours of free beer, or swooping opportunities were the actual attraction, however it became clear after witnessing a few practice rounds that beer was the last thing on their minds.
Red Bull delivered a serious jukebox the day before the first round kicked off to provide tunes that would enhance the already tangible atmosphere of the event. The tight knight community of competitive swoopers managed to have a great time and effortlessly uphold impressive professionalism and safety.
The newer, less experienced jumpers where fortunate enough to be exposed to an overwhelming wealth of seasoned talent with many impromptu canopy seminars delivered to the next generation between rounds.
In the practice rounds it was Skydive Lillo's talented young Pablo Hernández who took the lead throughout, holding firmly to his position as first place favourite. By the end of the official training day swoopers were finally ready to battle for real and the panel of judges, lead by respected Igor van Aperen, settled down into their coastline marquee for the start of day 1.
The Casa roared the first batch of competitors into the sky who promptly re-entered the atmosphere with the sound of whistling HMA, gate sirens and occasionally, the unintentional 'splash'
There were a number of first timers competing under the watchful eye of the organisers and more experienced competitors, and although the seasoned swoopers took an obvious lead over newer pilots, a clear battle for position at both ends reigned from the start.
The rounds (distance, speed carving and accuracy) continued until the end of day 1 when Spain's Pablo Hernández predictably led the open class, closely followed by Rodrigo Ferreira of Portugal in second, and Moritz Friess in third place. The phenomenal calibre of talent amongst the leading pilots was spectacular to watch.
The competitors managed to miraculously make early escape for most of the next day's rounds even, with the DZ bar packed to the rafters blaring Red Bull sound system and free beer. Day 2 kicked of with the Casa shaking a few tents as it wheeled off at 9am. Austria's Wutzi Wagner climbed the leader board with an outrageous 280+ foot distance round and looked to be biting at the heels of Hernández. A few spectacular splash downs in the accuracy round made for excellent video screenings in the bar entertaining spectators and judges alike.
Wutzi Wagner lost his second place positioning by missing a gate in accuracy which was swiftly snapped up by Moritz Friess who went into the deciding final distance round. The competitors boarded the Casa for the last round with a combination of nerves, excitement and tension both in the plane and on the ground.
The top three battling it out for the title pulled out huge distances for their last ditch attempts, with Skydive Lillo's 21 year old Pablo Hernández breaking the 400 feet mark to claim the 2007 Spanish Open title, followed closely by Moritz Friess, taking silver and Wutzi Wagner of Pink-sky van fame taking the bronze. In the Spanish class, Danillo Hernan-Perez took silver and Daniel Paredes a well deserved third place, bringing the competition to a close.
The final evening's closing awards ceremony saw competitors partying well into the early hours of the morning with a massive Spanish style BBQ to feed the masses and enough free beer to tide over even the more "thirsty" skydivers.
Even the Casa stuck around for three days after the competitions' close to facilitate some serious fun jumping. The overall event proved to be well organised, safe, exciting and pleasure to be a part of. Acknowledgements to all the organisers as well as the judges and officials, Toni Capdevila, Red Bull, the Spanish Military for providing the Casa and everyone at Skydive Lillo for making this event possible. Roll on next year!
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