x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Venezuelan daredevil with a small parachute skydives to new world record in Dubai

“It was awesome, amazing and emotional,” said Mr Gainza, who had been in training for a year.

Skydiver Ernesto Gainza completes a World Record jump, at Skydive Dubai, using the world's smallest parachute. Satish Kumar / The National
Skydiver Ernesto Gainza completes a World Record jump, at Skydive Dubai, using the world's smallest parachute. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Even strong winds couldn’t prevent Ernesto Gainza from breaking the world record yesterday for doing a skydive using the smallest parachute.

The Venezuelan daredevil fell from 14,000 feet, in three and a half minutes, at Skydive Dubai, using a parachute of only 35 square feet.

After months of training, it took only several minutes and a small amount of durable material to make his dreams come true.

Hundreds of spectators waited to watch Mr Gainza perform the stunt as he deftly maneouvered his tiny canopy and glided smoothly on to the grass.

“It was awesome, amazing and emotional,” said Mr Gainza, who had been in training for a year.

“It’s been my long time dream to prove to other human beings it doesn’t matter how much sacrifice and effort you have to go through to achieve something that you want. You just have to go for it. I want to motivate others to fight for their dreams and fulfill mine as well.”

A representative from the Guinness World Records presented Mr Gainza with a certificate after his jump. The previous record was held by a Brazilian, Luigi Cani, whose parachute measured 37sq ft.

Expert skydivers use parachutes that range in size from 80-200sq ft and, over the last decade, high-performance canopies have averaged between 70 and 90sq ft.

Mr Gainza, who has been skydiving since 2003 and is an operations assistant manager at Skydive Dubai, said although he had done several practice jumps, this was the first time he had skydived using the record-breaking parachute.

“I have lately been jumping with the 37sq ft parachute, which is the current record. I have jumped with the 35sq ft one but usually got rid of it at 1,000 feet because I wasn’t certain if I could land it.”

The record breaker said he had prepared himself for the worst before attempting the death-defying stunt.

“Many things could happen but we had trained very hard and had performed many tests to make this a successful record.”

That being said, preparing for the exit from the aircraft was one of the toughest, said Mr Gainza.

“I had to keep my body really straight, as even little input from my hips or turning left or right could make the parachute turn.”

He carried two reserve parachutes, one measuring 106sq ft and the other, 65sq ft.

Mr Gainza’s wife, Darja Karas, said she was both excited and scared before the dive took place.

“I am very happy for him that he made it after a year. This is an extreme sport and anything can go wrong.”

Skydive Dubai was equally thrilled by the winning dive.

“We wanted to show the UAE is a good place for breaking records,” said Javad Khoramifar, head of marketing.

“We usually have the tallest or the biggest. Now, the world record for the smallest. Ernesto has made history.”

pkannan@thenational.ae