Invercargill wingsuit racer climbs to No 2 in the world

03:39, Feb 18 2013
Dan Vicary
Invercargill skydiver and base jumper Dan Vicary, left, competing in the World Wingsuit Race in Brazil last week, where he was ranked second in the world.

Invercargill man Dan Vicary has been ranked No 2 in the world after competing in the world wingsuit championship in Brazil.

The skydiver and base jumper, who was awarded first place for overall accuracy and fourth for speed in the competition, flew the flag for New Zealand during the five-day event that finished on Wednesday.

"It was really overwhelming and an honour as the only Kiwi to be ranked in the top three against experienced world competitors," he said.

Wingsuit racers jump from cliffs as high as 2000 metres, gliding as fast as they can before parachuting, at a planned altitude, covering one kilometre in about 30 seconds.

They wear specially designed batlike jumpsuits, which add surface area to the human body to create a significant increase in lift.

Vicary was among 65 wingsuit pilots selected to take part. However only 31 racers took part because of the 35C heat and 95 per cent humidity at the mountain in Castelo, about six hours north of Rio de Janeiro.


"I decided to give it a go because all the big guns were still in it," he said.

Although there was a helicopter available, most competitors had to trek one hour to the top of the mountain each day.

"It was a real character-building exercise," he said.

In each elimination round, two daredevils raced to the bottom of the cliff, where they had to land on a target the size of a frisbee.

Competitors were also judged on speed and accuracy.

"If you were not accurate, there was no chance of making the finals. Luckily I hit the target bang on once and wasn't far out in other races," he said.

Winning was not about luck because racing was technical, he said.

"It's about knowing how to use the suit in various situations. Flying for as far and as long as possible, squeezing as much out of my suit, trying to not rely on my parachute".

Vicary, who works as a tandem skydiver in Switzerland, intends to enter more competitions this year and will aim for first place in next year's world wingsuit race.

The Southland Times