13 Mar 2023

Paragliding World Cup opens season 2023 in Castelo Brazil

Castelo’s truly stunning landscape with huge granite domes surrounded by mountains and waterfalls makes it one of the most beautiful places to fly in the world. Its complex aerology, thanks to the sea breeze, gives added interest, giving a technically challenging aerial playground.

The World Cup’s return to Castelo and the Ubá valley is long overdue. Four very successful competitions have already been held here: 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Felix Rodriguez and Keiko Hiraki won in 2016. Yann Martail and Emanuelle Zufferey in 2012. Will it be a change at the top or more of the same from two of the World’s most consistent and long-serving pilots?

Hot off the top spot from the recent Super Final in Mexico in December, Honorin Hamard, will also be competing. Baptiste Lambert, third in the Super Final, with three World Cup wins already could put up a real challenge to Honorin’s bid to win his seventh World Cup. However, for once, this is probably not going to be all about the French. Top Brazilian pilots Rafael Barros, Rafael Saladini, Luciano Horn, Erico Oliveira, and Gilmar Couto are also in with a real chance of landing on the top spot in a place, and with conditions, that they all know very well. Not to mention young Brazilian prodigy, 21-year-old Caio Buzzarello.

The race for the ladies’ podium could well be a French/Brazilian duel too with Meryl Delferriere and Marcella Uchoa obvious favourites. But there are a lot of other very experienced ladies taking part. Violeta Jimenez, third overall in this year’s Monarca Open, will, like Meryl and Marcella be setting her sights on a good overall ranking too! Boys beware!

The name Timo Leonetti is probably ringing bells for some, and alarm bells for others. This will be Timo’s debut World Cup. Although he will be the youngest pilot in the competition, he is by no means a novice. Invited by Gin Gliders, he won XContest 2022 and already has 569 km as his longest flight. He set a new long-distance World and European speed record last year for a 300km triangle (29.5km/h) and he’s only 20 years old!

A lot of respect also has to go to the legendary Pepe Malecki who will be taking part in his 99th World Cup, here in Castelo.  

With 18 AA pilots taking part, the only thing that is certain is that it will be a very challenging competition.

On the team leader board, the Paragliding World Cup Association is delighted to welcome aboard two new partners: Cameli Municipality and Northwest Paragliding. With 19 partner teams taking part, the team competition will, once again, be very exciting to watch, culminating in a Partners' Trophy which will be awarded at the Super Final.

Tune into PWC website https://pwca.org and their live app https://live.pwca.org.

Our split-screen facility allows you to watch the tracking, commentary (in eight different languages), and live leaderboards at the same time: https://live.pwca.org/app/live.html. As always, in the commentary, we will be including live photographs, giving a bird’s eye view of the task from the air as it unfolds.

Visit our pilot photo gallery, with links to their social media: https://live.pwca.org/photos.php

All the results will be available at: https://live.pwca.org/scores

Follow us on Instagram: @officialparaglidingworldcup

Photo gallery of flying in Castelo by Ulric Jessop:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/9cYwqcVGaSi54Zxi6

Photo credits Ulric Jessop

Text Ruth Jessop