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Encyclopedia > Parasailing
Parasailing in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Parasailing in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Parasailing, also known as parascending, is a recreational activity where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a specially designed parachute, known as a parasail. The boat then drives off, carrying the parascender into the air. If the boat is powerful enough, two or three people can parasail behind it at the same time. The parascender has little or no control over the parachute. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (2048 × 1536 pixel, file size: 1. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (2048 × 1536 pixel, file size: 1. ... -1...

There are six parts of a parasail. The harness attaches the pilot to the parasail, which is connected to the boat, or other speeding vehicle, by the tow rope. The activity is primarily an amusement ride, not to be confused with the sport of paragliding. There are parasailing locations all over the world. 4 second exposure night photography . ... Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport. ...

Land based parasailing has also been formed into competition sport in Northern Europe and especially in Finland. In land based parasailing, the parasail is towed behind a car or a snowmobile. In accuracy competitions the tow-vehicle controls the speed and height, and the parascender controls the lateral movement of the parasail. The competitions consist of two parts: dropping or throwing a streamer to a target, and accuracy landing. The sport was developed at the end of the 1990s in growing rapidly. The first international competitions were held in 2004.



Chris Abbott designed chute
Chris Abbott designed chute

The first Parasails were developed by Pierre-Marcel Lemoigne in 1961. Lemoigne is a well known developer of ParaCommander-type of parachutes known as "ParaCommander" or PC-canopies. The date of the first towing of a parasail is not known, but one of the first mentions is a flight by Colonel Michel Tournier from France flying behind a tractor in the same year - 1961. In 1963 Jacques-André Istel from Pioneer Parachute Company bought a licence from Lemoigne to manufacture and sell the invention with a name "parasail". Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (2048 × 1536 pixel, file size: 983 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) taken by myself while working File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (2048 × 1536 pixel, file size: 983 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) taken by myself while working File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this...

Mark McCulloh of Miami, Florida is the original inventor of modern day parasailing equipment.

In 1973, McCulloh introduced the world’s first Stationary Parasailing Platform. His continued innovations, inventions and accomplishments within the parasailing industry are broad in scope with a focus on improving the safety of parasailing.

His most successful invention was called the Winchboat, which he patented in 1976 and made its commercial debut in the 1980s. Today nearly all commercial operators use winchboats equipped with a PTO (power-take-off), which uses the boat's engine to drive a hydraulic winch. The combination of these two designs ushered in the era of widespread commercial parasailing.

Another highlight of McCulloh’s inventions, was the Aerial Recliner and the Rider Assembly strap design, which made its debut in the mid-eighties and inspired NASA’s new X-38 Crew Rescue Vehicle

To date, the United States Patent and Trademark Office have issued McCulloh the only patents ever granted related to commercial parasailing methods and equipment.

Many of McCulloh’s accomplishments have been aired on worldwide Television & Print Media, such as Good Morning America, Inside Edition, Fox News NBC, LA Times, New York Times, Miami Herald just to name a few.

Since the early 70's, McCulloh's innovations, inventions and operating techniques continue to advance safety within the parasailing industry and has set the standards by which responsible operators follow. ___

Brian Gaskin, the founder of Waterbird, created some of the first parasails after experimenting with ex-military parachutes. In 1974, he created and tested the first true parasail which he named "Waterbird". Nearly all commercial parasails canopies in operation today were derived from Gaskin's original "Waterbird" design. In 1975 Gaskin founded his company "Waterbird Parakites" which is still in operation today, producing commercial and recreational parasail’s in the UK.

Parasailing Associations

Commercial watersports winchboat
Commercial watersports winchboat

Today's parasail operators have evolved into highly organized and professional operations. Many of the largest operators are located in the Southeast US and Caribbean. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

In 1998, Mark McCulloh formed “Parasail Safety Council”, [www.parasail.org] [1] which established the first commerical parasail safety guidelines, procedures and provided the public with valuable information about parasailing.

In 2003, Arrit McPherson, an advent parasail operator formed PAPO (the Professional Association of Parasail Operators to also promote safety throughout the sport and help the industry's failing image in recent years.

Operators have moved from small (20-foot range) parachutes to large (30-40 feet) parachutes which utilize high-lift, low-drag designs enabling operators to fly higher payloads in lower (typically safer) winds. Most operators now offer double and triple flights using a tandem bar. The tandem bar is an aluminum bar attached to the yoke of the chute, allowing two or three passenger harnesses to be attached side-by-side. A tandem bar can be seen in the photo showing the Chris Abbott designed chute.

Typical parasail flights are performed with 500-1000 feet of line, although some operators use as much as 2,000 feet (610 m) of line. In some locations, notably Myrtle Beach, SC, FAA regulations limit flying height. In the case of Myrtle Beach the max height off the water is 300-500 feet. Daytona Beach, Fl, on the other hand has flights as high as 2,000 feet (610 m).

The tow line in normally made up of nylon. Operators who deploy longer tow lines, generally over 600', use tow lines made of Kevlar(tm). This synthetic fiber of high tensile strength is better than any type of steel. In the rare event where a line would break, Kevlar would remain limp, whereas nylon could whip back towards the towing vessel causing more havoc on the boat than to the parasail passengers in the air.

World Record

On 13th April 2007, 87-year-old Mr. N.K. Mahajan from Pune (India) took a Parasailing flight and possibly created a World Record. However, Indian Limca Book of Records has approved it as a National Record in it’s 2008 edition. Limca Record had also approved his earlier attempt of Feb 2003 (in it's 2004 edition). Incidentally, when a camera crew team of Star News channel came to shoot this event ( for it’s TV serial on Limca Records) Mr Mahajan repeated his performance again on 27 May 2008 at Lonavala. He was 88 years when he did this feat. He is the Oldest Parasailor to do so.

Similarly, on 29th Feb 2008 Master Kedar Anand Munje (Pune) took two Parasailing flights by using Longest Rope for towing Parasail (Jeep Launch). He used 565 feet rope when normally only 200 feet rope is used in India (Jeep Launch).

Both the flights were supervised and controlled by Senior Instructor Mr. Anand Munje.

See also

  • Kite types
  • Kite line
  • Kite mooring


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