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Saturday, 29 March 2014 16:56

François Le Vot wins the first Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics in South Africa

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World Aerobatic Champion, François Le Vot, obtained the first place in the inaugural Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics which was celebrated from 21st to 23rd of March in the beaches of Durban –the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal- . This festival was the main event of Durban Land, Sea & Air Festival, the first event of its kind to happen in that country. The competition pulled a record-breaking crowd of 145.000 people during the two days. 

 The Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics contest welcomed ten South Africans and five international pilots who are world and national champions from France, Russia, USA, Great Britain and Germany. The ten South African pilots competed on day one for a space in the top five to go head to head against the internationals on day two. After a nail-biting day of flying it was down to the wire with France’s Francois le Vot taking first place in a flawless routine. South Africa’s Patrick Davidson, the youngest pilot to compete, took second place, following by Mikhail Mamistov, from Russia. 

The South African pilot Nigel Hopkins was the fourth; Philip Steinbach, from Germany, the fifth; Gerald Cooper, from Great Britain, the sixth; Mark Hensman, also South African, the seventh; Petr Kopfstein, from Czech Republic, the eighth; and Bertus du Preez and Barrie Eales, twice from South Africa, the ninth and tenth position respectively.

The festival included activities on sky, land and water. Credit Nick Ferreira  

Le Vot also took first place in the 6 Nation Freestyle Shootout followed closely by South Africa’s Nigel Hopkins in second place and Germany’s Philip Steinbach in 3rd place.

Other highlights included displays by the South African Air Force’s Silver Falcons, parachute drops and the Good Year Eagles. The indisputable showstoppers were the Gripen Fighter Jet and an appearance by an SAA Airbus flanked by the Silver Falcons. Both displays had spectators on their feet as these magnificent aircraft flew low above the sea.

Festival organiser, Brian Emmenis from Capital Sounds, was thrilled with the event’s success. “It’s been wonderful to see families and visitors from elsewhere in South Africa and abroad enjoying the beachfront and the displays. And best of all, it was free! Our goal was to bring aviation to people who wouldn’t normally afford to attend this type of an event and we succeeded.”

Clive Coetzee, General Manager of the KZN Treasury (one of the event sponsors), Infrastructure Management and Economic Services Unit said: "the festival ticked all the boxes. We had a great development programme, the festival attracted a large number of people from all backgrounds, it gave us the opportunity to showcase Durban and finally created a sense of pride in our city.”

Festival goers could enjoy activities on land, other water sports competitions, a demonstration Navy submarine warfare, etc. There was also live music, movies and other air themed land activities until evening. Due to its huge success, there is no doubt the crowds will flock back to Durban’s beaches next year for the second Durban Land, Sea and Air Festival.   

                                                                All the pilots of Sky Grand Prix of Aerobatics



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Ingrid Font

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"Aerobatics is the hidden rythm of our soul..."