All eyes will be on the big guns from the USA when the cream of skydiving and indoor tunnel flying take flight this week at the 2015 Clash of Champions, the world’s richest indoor tunnel flying event, being staged at Inflight Dubai from Thursday (November 26).
The three-day tournament - being held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai - Clash of Champions will be the first major international wind tunnel flying competition to be staged in the tallest and largest indoor tunnel in the world.
Two teams guaranteed to be among the pre-event favourites are Americans Arizona Airspeed and the US Army team the Golden Knights, renowned names in the sport and both coming to Dubai focused on winning their disciplines.
Representing Arizona Airspeed in the 4-Way Category are Thiago Gomes, Thomas Hughes, Chris Farina, Niklas Hemlin and Justin Price. For Hemlin it is a welcome return to a venue where he coached 4-Way in 2013.
“It’s the newest and modern wind tunnel in the world,” said Hemlin. “But visiting Dubai won’t be a new experience for us as all of the guys in the team have been to the city before for Dubai Championships and for the worlds when they were held there in 2012.
“Our aim for Clash of Champions is to put together a clean and consistent team performance and be as competitive as we can be in the chase for the gold medal.”
Measuring 5.03m x 20.73m, the state-of-the-art Inflight Dubai facility is the perfect venue for a US$200,000 tournament that will see a wealth of World Cup winners and National, European and World champions go head-to-head in a variety of team and individual disciplines.
Known as the Golden Knights for more than 50 years, the US Army Parachute Team is a dominant force in the sport. Since its formation in 1959, the Golden Knights have conducted more than 16,000 shows in 50 US states and 48 countries, earned the US Army 2,148 gold, 1,117 silver, and 693 bronze medals in national and international competition, while team members have also broken 348 world records.
Competing in the 8-Way Formation category will be squad members Sean Sweeney, Josh Coleman, Justin Blewitt, Matt Davidson, Kurt Isenbarger, Larry Miller, Drew Starr, Jesse Stahler, David Flynn and Matt Navarro who touch down in Dubai just weeks after breaking the World Record with an all-time high of 32 points in an 8-Way jump while winning the 2015 US National Championships.
“At every competition, we aim to push our performance to new levels, to break records, and to win gold while displaying the high levels of teamwork, discipline, dedication and excellence exemplified by all soldiers in the US Army,” said Davidson.
“We won the world title when Skydive Dubai hosted the Worlds in 2012 so we are excited about seeing old friends and meeting new ones at this competition. We are also looking forward to seeing more of Dubai and experiencing different aspects of the culture. Inflight Dubai is the premier facility in the region with some of the best and most experienced world-class instructors and coaches from around the globe.”
Clash of Champions will get underway at 9am on Thursday (Nov 26) with three days of competition before the awards ceremony brings the event to a close on Saturday (November 28).