#WAGDubai: World Air Games, Dubai

Tuesday 12 January, 2016

The World Air Games in Dubai was the biggest multi-airsports competition ever. We were there

The World Air Games are the air sports equivalent of the Olympic Games – an attempt to bring together the world’s best pilots in multiple disciplines to compete over two weeks in one place.

Like the Olympics they are supposed to happen every four years, but in reality a combination of budget, lack of sponsors and absent media interest means they’d only ever taken place three times before – until December in Dubai.

With unprecedented resources, organisers Skydive Dubai went all-out to put on a show the like of which we’ve never seen before in air sports. Nearly 900 competitors from across 10 air sports enjoyed five-star hospitality and weather to dream of.

Our sports were represented by paragliding acro (solo and synchro), paramotoring and paragliding accuracy. Hang gliding was absent, as was any attempt at staging an XC competition. But paragliders were at the heart of the show – jumping out of helicopters, buzzing around pylons and leaping out in slow-motion on social media.

The razzmatazz never masked the fact that for the pilots this was serious business. Acro legend Raul Rodriguez called it “the best competition I’ve ever been in” while Red Bull X-Alps champion Chrigel Maurer, there for the acro, loved it: “In paragliding competition it’s always just the paragliding world. It’s so interesting meeting people from all the other sports.”

US hot air balloonists who’d crossed the Pacific mixed it up with world-record beating speed skydivers from Switzerland who broke bread with teenage paramotor prodigies.

This was a meeting of sporting minds on a huge scale – and it was fantastic…

This is just a preview, the full article is in Cross Country 167, Feb/March 2016

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