GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 Jan) – Around 200 top paragliding pilots and crew from 15 countries are expected to join the first leg of the 2015 Paragliding Accuracy World Cup (PGAWC) that will be hosted in March by Sarangani Province.
Nelly Nita Dillera, director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Region 12, said 15 paragliding teams have signified to participate in the event, which is slated on March 27 to 29 in the coastal village of Siguel in Maasim town.
She said each team will be composed of a minimum of six pilots or a total of 90 participants based on standard PGAWC rules.
But Dillera said the number does not include the other members of the team like the coaches, logistics crew and advance parties that would conduct wind safety inspections of the site prior to the competition.
“We’re expecting the actual participants to double during the world cup proper,” she told MindaNews.
Sarangani Province, which hosted the 1st International Paragliding Competition in August last year, bagged the hosting of the event through a bid submitted by the Air Sports Association of the Philippines (ASAP).
The event, which drew 40 pilots from 13 countries, was accredited by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale or the World Air Sports Federation and given a pre-world cup status.
The paragliding site in Maasim town is within the mountain ranch of San Andres Fishing Industry, Inc. (SAFI) in Barangay Siguel, which boasts of a grand view of the Sarangani Bay for pilots as they glide down to the landing site about 700 meters below.
The 2015 PGAWC tour will comprise six legs or series, with the country hosting the first leg, organizers noted in its website.
Malaysia will host the second leg on May 1 to 3, Serbia for the third on June 5 to 7, Germany for the fourth on Sept. 25 to 27, China for the fifth on Oct. 23 to 25 and Bulgaria for the sixth and final leg on Nov. 20 to 22.
Dillera said ASAP acts as the main local organizer of the PGAWC leg while the DOT-12 and the provincial government of Sarangani serve as its co-presenters.
She said the Philippine Olympic Committee and the city government of General Santos are also supporting the event, which has an overall budget of around P3 million.
As part of their preparations, she said they are finalizing various side events in the run-up and during the three-day world cup.
The initial activities include a mountaineering festival, cycling and archery competition and a trade fair, she said.
“PGAWC officials and representatives from other host countries of the 2015 world cup tour are coming over to conduct a benchmarking of the event so we’re trying to make it more festive and interesting,” Dillera said.
The official said they are set to launch massive promotional activities for the event as part of its efforts to draw more tourists to the area.
She said they have enlisted the PGAWC tour as one of the major showcases of Region 12 under the DOT’s Visit Philippines 2015 campaign.