Paragliding pilots from Taiwan, Indonesia rule Sarangani contest

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 August) — Top paragliding pilots from Taiwan and Indonesia dominated the 1st International Paragliding Accuracy Competition (IPAC 2014) held over the weekend in Maasim town in Sarangani Province.

Taiwan’s Luis Liu emerged as champion in the individual category while Indonesia topped the team category of the three-day competition, which was joined by 40 paragliding pilots from 10 countries.

The event, which ended on Sunday, was considered the first and biggest paragliding competition hosted by the country.

Randell Raymundo, president of tournament host Air Sports Association of the Philippines, said Liu bested Japan’s Yoshiki Oka and former two-time World Paragliding Accuracy Championship or World Cup titlist Lis Andriana of Indonesia to capture the individual title.

He said the Taiwanese pilot finished strong in the final of the competition to edge early favorite Oka for the championship.

Liu helped team Taiwan finish second overall in the team category that was won by Indonesia’s team Garuda, he said.

Raymundo said team Malaysia settled for the third place while team Philippines finished fourth in the team category.

Of the 40 pilots who enlisted for the competition, only 39 were able to complete their events following an injury to an Indonesian pilot during the first round, he said.

He said the winners took home around P350,000 in cash prizes at stake for the event, which was held at the San Andres Fishing Industries Inc. or SAFII ranch in Sitio Seguil, Barangay Tinoto in Maasim, Sarangani.

“The results were overwhelming and were really surprised with the turnout of the international pilots who participated in the competition,” Raymundo said.

He said the event turned out as the biggest gathering and “fellowship” of international paragliding pilots held in the country.

Raymundo said they are hoping to capitalize on the successful hosting of the IPAC 2014 for their bid to later host one of the six paragliding World Cup’s circuits next year or in 2016.

Accredited by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the competition was earlier sanctioned with a pre-world status.

“Everything that we did here is a glimpse of what might possibly take place if we would be given the chance to host the event next year,” he said.

But retired Malaysian Col. Basir bin Hj Abdul Rahman, who acted as IPAC 2014 tournament director, said the area could host a World Cup event in 2016.

He said they will initially push for the inclusion of the country in the Asian three-nation leg circuit next year and eventually the World Cup circuit.

Nelly Nita Dillera, Department of Tourism (DOT) Region 12 director, said they are currently looking at promoting other possible alternative activities along the paragliding spots in Maasim, considered as one of the best in the country.

She said they have initiated discussions with IPAC 2014 organizers for the possible expansion of the event to other aero sports activities.

“We’re looking at further developing the area as center of flying or aero sports activities and eventually organize bigger local and international events,” she added.

In line with the event, which was supported by the local governments of Sarangani and General Santos, DOT-12 staged an exhibit and fair featuring various aero sports gears and local products.

They agency brought to the area the winning beauties of the Ms. Earth Philippines as additional attraction for the competition. (MindaNews)