Someone watching the Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship on San Diego Bay points to a competitor skimming across the water!
This afternoon I headed down to Embarcadero Marina Park South to watch the 2018 Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship! What an exciting sport! Even with my little camera, I managed to get these fun photos!
Swoop Freestyle is a relatively new extreme sport. Competitors skydive, parachute toward the ground with increasing speed, then swoop right above the ground–in this case the blue water–while performing a variety of poses and tricks. The daring athletes swoop at speeds up to 90 mph! Successfully landing on the floating (and slippery) platform is one of the keys to a high score.
I was told this is only the second World Championship event–the first was in Copenhagen–and that this thrilling professional sport is still in its infancy. I can definitely see how it could blow up and become something really big!
I lingered for perhaps an hour and watched much of the First Round action. I’m no expert when it comes to Swoop Freestyle so you’ll have to please forgive my obvious lack of knowledge. I did see dramatic crashes, wild, careening maneuvers, Superman swoops, and some amazing, absolutely miraculous landings atop the floating platform!
Technically brilliant swoops and perfect landings raised a loud cheer from the enthusiastic crowd!
Take a look at these photos and you’ll get an idea of what the event was like…
Here comes another competitor. Helicopters took parachutists high above the water, and the crowd shielded their eyes from the sun to see them descending.
Vying for the World Championship of Swoop Freestyle, this competitor approaches the floating platform, just off Embarcadero Marina Park South.
One of the athletes is cheered by the crowd after making their dramatic swoop!
A banner at the event shows the weekend schedule. The amazing Masters of the Sky wowed lots of excited Swoop Freestyle fans.
I was told Swoop Freestyle athletes came from 13 separate countries to vie for the World Championship.
Testing a parachute in a section of the park where Swoop Freestyle contestants prepared and boarded a helicopter.
Lots of fans in attendance had a special interest in skydiving. They came to watch this unique sporting event from far and wide.
Some people were enjoying a VIP section.
Here comes another canopy. In mere seconds there will be another daring swoop!
Members of a Rescue Team were out on the water, but during the time I watched, they weren’t needed.
Crash! This competitor let everyone know he was okay right away.
Here comes another swooper!
Flying with feet skimming the water’s surface, approaching the floating platform. I don’t recall the result of this swoop.
Will this swooper make it to the platform? Some contestants, unfortunately, miscalculated and came up short.
More great Swoop Freestyle action out on San Diego Bay.
Sometimes two swoopers would come in simultaneously. There was a lot of exciting, intense drama!
After sitting on a hard rock for a long time, I wandered around to stretch my legs. Here’s the entrance to the VIP section.
Several sponsors and vendors had booths around the park, including Skydive San Diego.
Here come a couple of paragliders doing a demonstration during a break in the Swoop Freestyle competition.
Paragliding slowly toward the platform. I always enjoy watching paragliders soar along the cliffs above the beach at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
The live music guys were taking a break when I walked by, but did a rocker pose for my camera!
There was a fun demonstration by two daredevil water jetpack guys.
Entertaining the crowd!
Flying through the air without a parachute!
Now that really looks like Superman! Where’s the cape?
Three guys demonstrated zooming through the San Diego sky in wingsuits. They looked to me like flying squirrels. Unfortunately, I got my photo after their chutes deployed.
Here they come. Splash.
A couple helicopters were flying back and forth across the bay during much of the event. The Swoop Freestyle competition is about to resume.
Here comes one swooper. This competitor angled in really close to the crowd.
Flying inches from the water.
Here comes another. As you can see, it was a typically perfect San Diego day for the event.
Swooping on in. I think this contestant was too far from the platform and came up short.
Here comes another Swoop Freestyler. Nice form!
A perfect landing! This guy received a high score and with his performance became a contender for world champion.
Excitement at a great athletic achievement!
Some fans were waving a national flag for one of the Swoop Freestyle international athletes.
As the crowd watched the action, behind the scenes the athletes were preparing parachutes and getting ready for their competitive jump.
A huge tent contained lots of parachutes. I’m not sure if these were drying out, awaiting use, or what.
Will this be the next World Champion of Swoop Freestyle?
Heading off in a helicopter to take another flying swoop.
Here’s a distant action photo into the sun from a spot near the Hilton, behind the San Diego Convention Center.
Didn’t quite make it onto the platform! Close but no cigar!
But he still gave me a smile and thumbs up!
Excitement is nonstop at the 2018 Swoop Freestyle World Championship!
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Paraglider high above the Pacific Ocean catches a warm summer updraft created by sandstone cliffs at San Diego’s famous Torrey Pines Gliderport.
The world-famous Torrey Pines Gliderport is possibly the coolest, most awesome place in all of San Diego. Hang gliders and paragliders float silently in the sky above rugged sandstone cliffs and the blue Pacific Ocean, painting a rare scene that few will ever forget. Here are some photos that I took this morning.
I arrived too early–the wind necessary to sustain gliders, I learned, doesn’t usually kick in until about 11:30. No worries. There were so many interesting things to photograph, and the weather and scenery were so pleasant, I just moseyed around and sat here and there and let each moment unfold.
Please enjoy the following photos and make sure to read the captions for more detailed explanations!
The Torrey Pines Gliderport was established in 1928 and is an active aviation facility. It’s also a favorite place to enjoy incredible natural scenery and perhaps get a bite to eat.
Looking north along the San Diego coast from a point above Black’s Beach. A solitary figure looks out at the mighty ocean from atop a weathered sandstone cliff.
A hang glider is moved on the grassy hill near the Gliderport. Students, instructors and experienced gliders alike must wait for a good, steady wind.
While I wandered about I made a cool discovery! Atop the hill beside the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the experts of Sky Falconry were getting ready to teach a morning class. Anyone can fly a bird of prey!
Several hawks trained to fly and return on command have a chance to stretch their wings before the class of falconry students arrives.
Taking flight indeed! A beautiful raptor flies past its handler. Beyond, the blue Pacific Ocean stretches to the horizon.
The Sky Falconry class has begun and I take another photo, then leave these good people in peace. There is much else to see…
A view looking south from the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Someone stands on the lifeguard perch that overlooks the beach below. La Jolla Cove and the end of Scripps Pier can be seen in the background.
Some activity! Someone wearing a bulky but lightweight paragliding harness sets out across the grass from the patio area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Students have begun to learn the basics of paragliding, including how to safely launch. Not enough wind to take to the air yet.
A quick photo through the Torrey Pines Gliderport’s casual patio area, with picnic benches. I spotted an outdoor grill and pool table nearby!
The Giderport’s well-stocked Cliffhanger Café has yummy hamburgers . . . and jaw-dropping views just steps away!
A short hallway that leads into the Torrey Pines Gliderport store features many photos of past hang gliding and paragliding adventures.
Just south of the Gliderport’s launch area, a bench makes a perfect place to experience sun, ocean and sea breeze.
A forlorn concrete monument stands near the dirt parking lot, south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport. On one side a tile mosaic depicts a sailboat and gliders in the sky.
On the opposite side is a corroded historical marker. To honor the spirit, ingenuity, and enthusiasm of the pioneers who flew gliders in the 1930’s at Torrey Pines.
Another look north at beautiful high cliffs of eroded sandstone. The coastline melts away into San Diego’s North County. No gliders yet!
A couple of surfers prepare to descend the cliff to Black’s Beach far below. For those who don’t follow the established trail, it can be a very treacherous descent, and one occasionally sees rescues on the local news.
A raised outdoor eating area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport is the perfect place to watch all the aerial action. But still too early…not enough wind…
The Torrey Pines Gliderport bills itself as America’s premier flight school. One can enjoy tandem paraglider and hang glider flights with an expert instructor.
The breeze has picked up a bit. More students are trying out their equipment on safe land. A happy dog is loving life.
A paragliding student learns the ropes. In the distance you can see the equally famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, which hosted the epic 2008 U.S. Open.
More spectators have arrived and the nearby grassy hill has become more active. The falconry class is still underway.
Almost enough lift!
Carrying all the paragliding gear back up the hill. When actually gliding, if too much elevation is lost, some gliders will land on the beach. Then the climb is much, much worse!
Just a cool shot of a paraglider spreading her wings.
Finally! The breeze is pretty good now! The first paraglider is ready to launch! Lift is provided by wind that pushes up against the long cliffside.
And he’s off, among the birds!
A tranquil ride above and through the beautiful blue. Paragliders wind their way back and forth along the cliffs, catching the updraft.
A photo that provides a hint of why the Torrey Pines Gliderport is such a special place.
A fantastic ride through the sky!
Another paraglider has joined the slow aerial dance. The lower part of his body is enclosed in a cool-looking pod harness.
Paragliding above Black’s Beach, a favorite destination for surfers and Southern California nudists!
Just gliding along.
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