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Up Close & Personal

name: Dennis Praet

email: depraet@gmail.com

age: 34

education: Graduated at Military School

number of jumps: 10,000

years in Sport: 18

teams: NMP PCH HayaBusa

slot(s): Point, Outside Center

favorite competition: The 2012 World Meet in Dubai

funniest moment in skydiving: Making the Golden Knights stress out in 8-way because you are ahead after 3 rounds at the USPA Nationals 2017 with our fun side project Machine44.

skydiving mentor(s): Sven Ibens (HayaBusa Godfather and Founder)

hobbies: Motorcycle racing, Kitesurfing, Spending time with my son

favorite book(s): "Finding Your Zone" by Michael Lardon, "Win or Learn" by John Kavanagh

favorite music: I like all kinds of music, mainly Hard Rock/Metal

favorite movie(s): Top Gun 1 and 2

favorite place: Home

Where will you be ten years from now? Still doing what I love the most. Skydiving, racing bikes and watching my son grow up.

best kept secret: I had to do my Level 3 in AFF like 4 times before I passed...

favorite quote:

"You win or you learn"

Dennis Praet in 2023 Dennis Praet in 2023
The point flyers of 4-way teams have always been something special not only to me. They are considered the artists who have to master the position with very little sight of what's going on behind them. And then they have to fix whatever the center is not preparing well for building any formation.

The tail is on the fixing end, too, and has to react quickly to whatever the center is giving the two artists on the outside to work with. However, the tail can see almost everything in front of her/his eyes.

Jack Jefferies of the original Airspeed lineup was considered the best point artist ever until Johnny Eagle of the next Airspeed generation (Airspeed Vertical) set new standards. And then came Dennis Praet...

One morning in Menzelinsk 2010 One morning in Menzelinsk 2010
I met the young man first time in Russia at the FAI World Championship 2010. I happened to sit in the lobby of a hotel one morning in Menzelinsk, and he was sitting next to me on the couch by coincidence. I had no clue who he was.

However, we started talking, and he was well informed about the competition. So we discussed the situation in all details and as far as I was able to.

He did not mention that he was somehow related to the famous NMP PCH HayaBusa team, even though he was already their alternate. He was too humble to brag about his potential. It was a lasting experience for me anyway, as I was somehow impressed with the knowledge and expertise of a very young skydiver and competitor. He was 21 years of age by then.

Round 10 in Dubai 2012 live on DZ-TV with team mate Andy Grauwels, mentor Sven Ibens and alternate Jeroen "Bob" Nollet Round 10 in Dubai 2012 live on DZ-TV with team mate Andy Grauwels, mentor Sven Ibens and alternate Jeroen "Bob" Nollet
NMP PCH HayaBusa ended up in 4th place, losing the bronze medal position of 2008 to the Russian home team, Sky Panthers Barkli. Somehow it was not a big surprise to me when I heard that the young man was selected for the next lineup of 2011 - and he was the team's new point.

It's impossible to find out what makes any 4-way team a world champion team, as there are so many factors involved. It cannot be disputed though that the new lineup, with original HayaBusa members Roy Janssen, David and Andy Grauwels, had finally the lineup for the team that would begin to dominate the next decade of the world's 4-way competition.

It took the Belgians with the new point only two years to get to the top level, even though they did not win the next world championship in Dubai 2012. They missed it in one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the sport, and Dennis Praet was a significant part of the drama. This time, in Dubai 2012, little more than two years after I met humble alternate Dennis Praet in Menzelinsk, I knew who he was, and I also knew what happened in the last second of Round 10.

First FAI gold medals in Prostejov 2014 First FAI gold medals in Prostejov 2014
I went looking for him when it was clear that his missing of a grip on the top of Block 2 meant that the first world championship title was gone for his team. I did not want to ask him stupid questions for the journalistic part of my visit in Dubai,I just felt terrible for him, and I was surely not alone with that. I found him crying tears behind the team tent while Arizona Airspeed were celebrating.

The profile information that Dennis Praet was providing is showing that the FAI Dubai Mondial 2012 has been his favorite competition, even though he has won four FAI world championship gold medals after the Round 10 experience. He reflected more about the reasoning: "We became second with the closest of margins. The drama was high, but this made me as a competitor. Take it on the chin and never let it happen again!"

The experience in Dubai 2012 meant more to him as a learning and growing opportunity than the four world championship titles. This humble attitude is probably the reason why NMP PCH HayaBusa have managed to integrate new team members quickly and smoothly.

Dennis Praet is now the team's senior in the active lineup, even though original member David Grauwels has still continued for his team in the camera slot. David Grauwels knows best why he can trust forwarding the responsibility to his team mate since 2011.

NMP PCH HayaBusa lineup for the near future NMP PCH HayaBusa lineup for the near future
The previous HayaBusa lineups between 2003 and 2010 had created the foundation for the very impressive future of the Belgian national 4-way team. There was consistent progression, while there seemed to be a missing piece. It could be coincidence, however, the breakthrough to the top of the world happened when the gifted point flyer Dennis Praet joined the lineup.

NMP PCH HayaBusa almost stole the world championship title already in Dubai 2012, and nobody could stop the new lineup and coach Gary Smith any longer in Prostejov 2014, where HayaBusa won over Airspeed by eleven points.

The rest is history and well documented by the NSL News. NMP PCH HayaBusa with Dennis Praet followed up with 4-way gold medals in 2016, 2018 and 2021, before changes in the lineup required the rebuilding of the team. Dennis Praet and his humble team mate Jeroen "Bob" Nollet have integrated new and young team mates smoothly and successfully, with the help by original HayaBusa member David Grauwels.

The three professional skydivers and Belgian career soldiers have the same plans for the future. They want to add more 4-way world championship titles to their collection. Dennis Praet has shown the skydiving world enough of his incredible skills as the point flyer for HayaBusa now, and he is switching to outside center, where he will probably set new standards for performing this slot, as well.