The Lohan Paragliding Park in Ranau is set to host the 2nd FAI Asian Paragliding Accuracy Championship (FAPAC), which is the second largest event in paragliding accuracy category after the World Paragliding Accuracy Championship, from March 12 to 19.
Organised by Malaysia Gliding Association and the Kinabalu Paragliding Club with the acknowledgement of the Federation Aeronotique Internationale (FAI), the Lohan Paragliding Park in Ranau has been selected to host the championship due to its unique features.
Out of the 26 countries invited to take part in the championship where the winner will be crowned the best pilot in Asia, 12 had confirmed their participation namely, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, Republic of China, Qatar, and host Malaysia.
Countries of the world’s top paragliding pilots, Slovenia and Serbia, will also be taking part in the championship.
Some 100 pilots from the participating countries will be competing in the championship, which will be judged based on 12 rounds of landing accuracy.
In a press conference held at the Grand Borneo Hotel here yesterday, FAPAC 2014 Competition director cum vice president of Kinabalu Paragliding Club, Major Haznain Ngamil, disclosed that seven pilots, including five Sabahans, would be representing Malaysia.
“In the first FAPAC held in Taiwan in 2012, Japan was the winner of the championship and this year, we are putting high hopes in our national team for the gold medal,” he said.
Lohan, said Haznain, had been acknowledged by FAI, the world governing body of air sports, aeronautics and astronautics world records based in in Lausanne, Switzerland, as the second best site in the world for paragliding accuracy competition, after Turkey.
“This is due to the features that Lohan possesses over the easy accessibility of take-off and landing zones, all-year-round of consistent wind speed and direction, enabling paragliding activities to be conducted throughout the year,” said Haznain.
The only criteria lacking to beat Turkey as the first paragliding spot in the world, he added, were infrastructural facilities.
“But this will soon change as works to upgrade the Lohan Paragliding Park are already underway with funds from Tourism Malaysia,” he said.
FAPAC 2014 chairman cum president of Kinabalu Paragliding Club Tengku Datuk Seri Dr Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood pointed out that Sabah, in paragliding, is the “fastest growing state in Malaysia,” having hosted three other international paragliding events as well as seeing some 900 tourists trying out tandem paragliding in the past three years.
“Since 2011, 922 domestic and international tourists had tried out tandem paragliding, whereby 364 were from last year alone, although we started out with only 36 in 2011.
“This is not only good for encouraging this type of air sport, which is the safest of its kind, but also for the tourism industry in Malaysia and most importantly for Sabah,” said Zainal.
The press conference yesterday was also attended by director of Tourism Malaysia Sabah, Sani Sham Ahmad.