Skydive Empuriabrava Beach Festival and King of Swoop 2014
For one unforgettable week at the end of July, the beach of Empuriabrava transformed into something magical.
A fairground, an extreme sports venue, a holiday village and a seven day outdoor music gig.
This was the return of the famed King of Swoop. It had been eight years since the beautiful bay of Roses in Costa Brava had hosted this most difficult and prestigious of canopy piloting events.
Reiner Bos had tried to bring it back in 2012,but raising the sponsorship total at that time was just out of reach.
Then came the investment of Skydive Dubai into Empuriabrava, and the potential of investment into the event suddenly became real.
Unlike most swoop events world wide, this was no man made pond, no symmetrical set up.
This is a river, onto a beach, into the sea. Completely different than what these 30 top competitors are used to seeing.
Add to this, music from DJ Danger, commentary from Regan Tetlow and Spanish presenter Roc, live footage on the big screen plus internet streaming and you have what was, without a doubt, the most exciting canopy piloting event ever seen.
Nick Batcsh lead from the beginning. Pablo Hernandez and Wuzi Wagner were hot on his tail but Curt Bartholomew was not showing good form this meet. Unusual from the current world champion.
Cornelia Mihai, Skydive Dubai CP Team was exciting to watches as always. She seems to have developed a style and aggression of flying reminiscent of a young Batsch. For the first time, the potential for a female world champion is starting to feel real.
A prize fund of €33,000 kept the flying keen and the competition hot. All rounds in all three events were on the carve due to the nature of the location. This lead to Zone Accuracy being competed in a style that had not only never been run in competition but that had never even been practiced. Add to this a strong downwind push for two of the three rounds and the result was poor scores from most in zone Acc.
Breaking this trend was Wagner who was back in competition showing strong, focused form.
It was clear from early on though that the crown was going to be resting on the head of Nick Batsch. I have never seen him looking as confident in competition. It is all lined up for an interesting final quarter of the year with the Sun Path open October, world meet November and DIPC December.
It was a nice touch to have 2005 King of Swoop Shannon Pilcher at the event. He was technical course director and he handed the new, purpose build crown over the Nick Batsch in front of a packed beach audience and before the world wide fans watching on the live stream.
It was a brilliant canopy piloting competition to be involved with. Made even better by the festival atmosphere with daily airshows including the biggest Catalan flag in existence being flow by Richie Pym and the Jetman team giving daily displays.
This was all mixed in with tandems landing onto the swoop track in between rounds.
Great feedback from everyone involved and from the town of Empuriabrava too.
Hopefully this will become an annual event once again.