16 Jun 2024

Asian-Oceanic Championships 2024 in Korea - standing ovation!

 - The best event ever! - said pilots at the closing ceremony of the 2nd FAI Asian-Oceanic Paragliding Championships in Mungyeong, South Korea. And the satisfaction was not overrated: 7 compelling tasks of various routes and degrees of trickiness, 110 pilots from 9 nations, excellent organization, fast retrieve, outstanding culinary lunch packs, gala shows on opening and closing ceremonies -  this is just a short list of merits mentioned by the participants in their reviews.

The event took place from June 06 to June 16th, 2024. It was organized by KPGA (Korean Paragliding Association) with the support of the NAC of Korea, the Municipality of Mungyeong and City Council, and the Olympic Committee of Korea.

Take off Mungyeong Dan Mountain is a peak of about 860 ASL, is one of the most famous paragliding places in Korea, offering good conditions even for beginner pilots. The usual flights are made along the long ridges of the surrounding mountains (800 ~1200 m ASL) and valleys. Pilots can take off in almost any wind as it offers 2 large covered launch grounds in NW-W-SW and NE-E-SE directions. 3 lines can launch from any side and house thermals are nearby. The average temperature was between 20 and 25 °C. Thermals began at about 11 a.m. and lasted until 4-5 p.m. However the flying site had its hazards: a wide network of power lines covering the terrain and watered rice fields were demanding a well-thought-out approach to landing on course. All these issues were carefully explained during the general safety briefing and repeated at every task briefing.

Another peculiarity of this event was an uneven level of competitors: some had decades of FAI events in the background and some were just making their first Category 1. That's why the Meet director had set a number of additional safety requirements both for task setting and task flying, prolonging obligatory turn direction to the first TP on the route. It worked well and during the whole event, there was not a single complaint about aggressive flying. There were still complaints of minor misconduct and some pilots were penalized for turning in the wrong direction and flying in cloud haze. Less experienced pilots were also regularly reminded to be extremely careful, fly safe, and not take risks.

David Snowden from Australia received bonus points for helping the pilot in an emergency landing. Due to terrain peculiarities, it was not always possible to communicate by radio. But the mobile network worked fine and "Flymaster retrieve" fully answered all competition needs in pilot pick-up and safety surveillance. The operation was most effective due to well-trained staff who fulfilled the instructions to the letter. Another very helpful addition was that Flymaster retrieve system now has built-in chat with a pilot with automatic AI translation. Many pilots could not speak English so chatting with them in their own language was a solution.

During the event, 2 days were cancelled due to rain and in the rest 7 tasks of about 50-60 km were flown. Some of them were set following the wind directions but some consisted of various zigzags across the nearby valleys with the goal at the official landing, which added greatly both to the complexity of the task and the convenience of the retrieve. It took the winners 1,5-2 h to make it to the goal while it was a bit more than 3 hours for the last pilot to arrive there. On the landing, the pilots were welcomed by sun-shade pavilions with chairs and an ice bar providing cold drinks and hotel shuttle buses, which was an additional stimulant to arrive at the goal. But one pilot wanted to especially push his personal limit. On the day of the final task, the Vietnamese pilot Kim Tran wanted to propose to his fiancee Mira. The final task was difficult enough. Do it before launch! - advised his fellows. You may not come to goal today, - worried they. I will come! - said Kim. And he did. On the goal of the final task the pilots attended the engagement ceremony and heartily greeted the young couple. 


The winner of the event and the overall champion is a 25-year-old Korean pilot Chigwon Won. Being a local, he has flown many times in Mungyong. That's why he also contributed to the event as a member of the Task committee which led to numerous jokes on every instance of his task-winning. But all the pilots appreciated how the task routes were composed, and thanked Chigwon along with Seyong Jung and Subir Sidhu, who was later replaced by Gareth Carter in the Task Committee. All-in-all, Chigwon Won won 6 tasks out of 7, followed by Australians Gareth Carter and Peter Slade whose results differ only by 0.4 points. Australian pilots also occupy 4th and 7th place of the top 10 in the event, 5th being Gleb Sukhotsky representing Kazakhstan, 6th - Zhenjun Zhao from China, 8th and 9th - Yongmook Won (the father of the champion) and Seongmin Lee from Korea and 10th being the female Asian-Oceanic Champion - Keiko Hiraki from Japan. Keiko has been the first woman in Goal in 4 tasks out of 7. Kari Ellis AUS was the female task winner 2 times and Hyunhee Kim KOR once.


At the closing ceremony, the Jury President Andrew Cowley handed the FAI flag to the next FAI 1 organizer - Kazakhstan. 

The ceremony was followed by a gala concert and a lunch.



Congratulations to the Champions!


1. Chigwon Won  KOR

2. Gareth Carter  AUS

3. Peter Slade  AUS


1. Keiko Hiraki  JPN

2. Kari Ellis  AUS

3. Hyunhee Kim  KOR

National Teams

1. Korea

2. Australia

3. China




All results in https://civlcomps.org/event/pg-asian-oceanic-2024/results

Replay https://lt.flymaster.net/bs.php?grp=5926

Articles on FAI.org https://www.fai.org/CIVL-Mungyeong-2024

Social media videos:

Opening parade 

Closing ceremony

Final task goal interview

First task goal interview