I normally jump a 190 so I had asked for an Optimum 193 for the competition. That canopy was needed for a jumper with far fewer jumps so I was asked to jump a 176 Optimum. I agreed and calculated my wing loading. I did my normal safety checks on my gear and mentally went through my EPs on the way to altitude…
I exited the airplane and had a nice opening. Instead of taking my time and practicing with the smaller canopy to get used to it I let overconfidence and complacency take over. I spiraled down to get more vertical separation and set up my pattern like I normally would for an accuracy jump. I figured the smaller canopy with a higher loading would penetrate further. I was wrong. I turned it into the wind on final and it died. I was not getting hardly any penetration.
The ground soon taught me a valuable lesson as I pounded in like a sack of bricks
I was embarrassed and upset with myself for miscalculating instead of thinking about my landing. Overconfidence. Since I was getting hardly any penetration I decided (I still don't know why) to land using my rear risers. I have done this many times on my canopy but never on a reserve…especially a smaller one. The ground soon taught me a valuable lesson as I pounded in like a sack of bricks.
I'm blessed I only hurt my pride and was only very sore for the rest of the night and today. I hope my story helps one of you not learn the hard way. Be careful. Downsize on the same canopy or change canopies with the same size. Don't do both during an accuracy competition when you're concentrating on winning instead of landing.
On the bright side it helped me to go out the next day and do things right. I had an outstanding demo jump. I landed alongside my buddy in a tight landing area. I did everything right. I was humble. I was safe. I had fun! I looked like a PRO instead of a Shmo!!! Blue skies!!! Woo hoo!!!
I looked like a PRO instead of a Shmo!!