Friday’s winds proved too risky for the paragliding enthusiasts gathered in Rawai for the 2011 edition of the Phuket Fun Fly. Thus, they decided to remain grounded for the day, hoping for improvements over the week-end.
Thai National Paragliding Team member Sarayut Chinpongsatorn said that “it is impossible to glide right now because the strong winds make it too dangerous. The speeds are currently exceeding 40km/h, whereas we need between 10 and 25km/h for safe gliding.” The participant was on paragliding in Phuket for the first time, even though he had visited the island several times before: “I decided to participate this year because I heard the event was very fun last year and I had many friends taking part.” Mr. Chinpongsatorn participated to the event as part of his 2011 Southeast Asian Games training, with the competition taking him and the other six men and seven women of the Thai national team to Indonesia for its final stage at the end of this year. 2011 will mark the first time paragliding will be included in the Games.
Returning to the Phuket Fun Fly, Dr. Prasert Theplaong, Phuket Paragliding Club President, was hopeful about the winds easing over the week-end: “the weather forecast for the upcoming days looks promising for paragliding.”
Indeed, after being launched with an official opening ceremony where a troupe of traditional Thai dancers captivated the audience at the windmill promontory overlooking Yanui Beach, the event’s take-off site, on Friday, the event kicked off with actual activities during the week-end. 51 paragliders from countries such as Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Malaysia, Indonesia and Iran participated in the annual event in Phuket, with local entrants from all regions of Thailand also counting groups from Lampang, Rayong, Bangkok and Chon Buri provinces.
Reza Shahuerdy, Phuket resident from Iran, also participated in the event for the first time in his life: “After living in Phuket for six years, I came to the conclusion that this time of the year makes for perfect gliding, with an ideal area for spot landing where the event is taking place. The actual feeling cannot just be described in words, people should attempt it at least once to understand it. It is amazing to be up in the sky, playing around in the wind with no engine whatsoever.”