Drone operators first started racing one another informally in Australia from about 2014, and drone racing has become increasingly popular around the Western world ever since. Now the sport is run more professionally, with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) being the best-known of the governing bodies that run international drone racing events. The FAI has recently been recognised by the International Olympic Committee, which presents the mouth-watering prospect of drone racing potentially and eventually becoming an Olympic sport. Along with the many smaller drone racing organisations which sometimes have their own technical rules for the various classes of drones, the FAI has sought to bring more standardisation to the sport. In many people’s eyes, this came to the fore when the FAI staged a drone racing world cup in 2019. Plans are afoot for a new FAI World Cup in 2020, so whether you’ve been a fan from the start or are new to the sport, what can you expect from it?
Growing International Interest
The 2019 FAI World Cup took place in mid-December in Xiangshan Ningbo, China. Last year’s edition of the world cup was officially billed as the FAI World Drone Racing Championship Finals. It brought together the best competitors from around the world who had qualified for it from regional tournaments. These began as early as March last year in Finland, with qualifying competitions taking place in locations as diverse as Spain, South Korea, the UK, Russia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, China and Japan. In all, 566 competitors took part in these tournaments which included people drawn from no fewer than 46 different countries. In New Zealand, online casino interest in the sport continued to grow throughout the year, peaking when the championship finals started on 11th December. Given that so many more people are taking part in drone racing, betting on the outcome of races, or actively and enthusiastically watching them, the 2020 edition of the FAI World Cup is only likely to generate even more public interest.
Building on Success
Due to the fast-growing global nature of drone racing, the FAI has moved fast to put together a series of qualifying events for the 2020 iteration of the World Cup. Although no venue has been announced so far for the championship finals, many commentators believe that the current year’s list of qualifying competitions is the best yet. The first officially sanctioned tournament of the current round of FAI World Cup qualifiers will take place in March, in Finland. It will be staged at Oulu and will feature F9 drones. This will be followed in May by two qualifying tournaments, one in Macedonia and the other in the South Korean capital of Seoul. Further competitions will run throughout the European summer in Germany, Spain and the UK, among other host nations. On 19th September, a two-day drone racing tournament will take place in Daegu City, South Korea, the closest officially sanctioned event to New Zealand announced thus far. At home, the sport remains a grassroots activity but races are organised by groups in most of the country’s larger cities. Drone racing in New Zealand tends to feature mini-drones but as the sport continues to grow, so more and more racers are starting to fly the type of machines that fall under FAI’s regulations. First Person View Racing (FPVR) is an organisation that puts on regular drone races in both Australian and New Zealand. However, it is not currently affiliated with FAI so its events do not allow even successful racers to qualify for the 2020 World Cup.