San Diego skydiver competes at world championships - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego skydiver competes at world championships

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CHULA VISTA (CBS 8) – It's called canopy piloting. Simple enough, but it's more dangerous than it sounds.

"As you're turning the canopy and yourself, you are diving at the ground and descending really fast, that's how you gain the speed that you need to go through the course. So if you don't time it right, you're going to hit the ground at 90-100 miles per hour, which is going to seriously hurt you or kill you," Jay Sanders of the U.S. Parachute Team said.

Canopy piloting competitions have three disciplines. First is distance.

"You have to touch the water prior to the gate, and the next point you contact the ground is measured for distance," Jay explained.

Distances range from 100 to 180 meters. Next is accuracy.

"There are four gates on the water, dragging your foot on the water as you pass each gate, you have to pop off the water and land in a certain zone," Jay said.

You get different points depending on the zone you land in. Finally, there is speed.

"There are lasers at the entry gate and exit gate. It times your time going through the gates," Jay said.

Sanders says the sport is not for the faint of heart. Even after some 12,000 jumps in a 13-year career, it's still an adrenaline rush.

"When I get down I'm a little shaky almost every run. Pretty exciting, very challenging as well," he said.

It's all top-end equipment -- skinny lines, high-tech material in canopy, and Velcro straps around the ankles.

"Hopefully to keep me from twisting or spraining ankles. I've done that so much there's not a whole lot holding it together. A lot of ligaments are ripped and torn in there," Jay said.

Sanders says his most severe injury is a dislocated wrist with five broken bones. He says he prefers canopy piloting to freefall aerobatics.

"More time in the air, and the type of chutes I fly now are super small and super fast and it's a lot of fun," he said. "I love being in the air flying around. The freefall is great but being under the canopy is where it's at."

This week, he hopes to fly home with a world championship.

Some of the footage in this video report was shot using a GoPro camera.

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