What Is Parasailing?

Parasailing or Parascending is a recreational activity where a canopy similar to a parachute is towed behind a vehicle lifting the person/persons attached to it into the sky above. This activity is most popular and much safer when it is done behind a boat over water, however it can also be achieved using 4×4’s or an ATV.

A Brief History of Parasailing

The first ascending parachute was developed by Pierre-Marcel Lemoigne in 1961. Lemoigne used his invention to set up parachute training centers around Europe where they would tow trainees up to a certain altitude then release them so they may practise parachute landings.
In early 1976, Brian Gaskin designed the first 16 gore canopy design which he named “Waterbird”. The Waterbird was revolutionary in its canopy design, its unique tow yoke harness, its construction and the use of zero porosity fabrics allowed it to be used over water safely. The majority of commercial parasail operators still utilize the 16-gore canopy design that was derived from Gaskin’s original invention.

Mark McCulloh – Inventor of Modern Parasailing

Mark McCulloh is the original inventor of modern day parasailing equipment beginning with the world’s first stationary parasailing platform in 1971. His innovations, inventions and accomplishments within the parasailing industry are broad, with the main focus on improving the safety of parasailing through equipment design. McCullohs list of inventions are: 1971 Stationary Platform, 1972 Motorized Platform, 1974 Winchboat, 1985 Skyrider Chair, 1994 Auto Rope Guide, 1999 Riser Line Assembly. In 1993 he formed the Commercial Winchboat Operators Association (CWOA) in Florida which outlined Operating Standards and Guidelines (OSAG) for commercial parasailing. Insurance Underwriters in Florida mandated CWOA membership and adherence to the OSAGs as a prerequisite to obtaining commercial parasail liability insurance. In 2003 Arrit McPherson, an advert parasail operator, formed PAPO (the Professional Association of Parasail Operators) to promote safety throughout the sport and in 2010 a group of parasail operators joined the Water Safety Industry Association in an effort to establish best practices and safe operating practices for the parasail industry.

Ongoing Innovations

In the late 1990s Custom Chutes Inc and Parasail Australia (www.parasail.net) redesigned the original Gaskin design for the new marketplace that required the parasails to carry more weight (double rides and triple rides) but still ensure they could operate in the same operating conditions. As a result a completely new design, much larger in diameter but with much smaller increased air resistance, was born. These newly designed parasails can now be seen all over the world transforming the sport of parasailing.