Two new world records and the most successful 200-way + skydives ever!
“Can you please write an article about the week, it’ll be fun” Lesley said. “I want to get an American’s perspective, it’ll be easy” she said…
It ain’t easy, if it was, everyone would be volunteering to write. “Sure, I’ll give it a go” – what was I thinking??!!??
“It always happens on the last jump of the last day” said Patrick Passe, French organizer and formation designer of the most recent world record. He was “sorta” right…it actually happened after the last day. Wait, what?? “Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale….”
Saturday morning, Oct 21st, over 220 skydivers representing 28 countries – 29 if you count Texas – met at Skydive Arizona with one goal in mind - let’s build this and turn a couple more points with over 200 people.
The team gathered under warm, severely blue skies. The plan was to jump on Saturday and Sunday with our sectors (and sometimes with the base) to get fall rate and reference pictures sorted out before Monday rolled around, when we would start with the actual record jumps with the entire contingent of planes, jumpers and camera flyers.
More on the American perspective – we really like the European start time of 8:15 am, it’s daylight, it’s not too cold on the ground and it gives us all time to stop at Starbucks to grab a latte!
Anyway, as I was saying … after the first jump on Monday, the winds became a bit too gusty to safely put over 200 canopies in the air, so we waited on the ground for the winds to cooperate… which they didn't. We made the best of the time we had on the ground posting on Facebook, texting our friends and family, sleeping, and, at times, actually talking to friends (who'd a thunk it!).
On Tuesday, we got to “enjoy” a record high temperature of 98⁰F (or about 36⁰C for the rest of the world) as we made three jumps chasing a new 2-point record. After the third jump on Wednesday, judges Jim Rees and Mary Lou Laughlin announced that we had set a WORLD RECORD - 2-point 219-way!
We hugged, we cheered, we celebrated… then we set about going after the record we all came for - 3-points…. The previous world record sequential was 2 points of 202-way, set 2 years ago by the same organizing team, Sequential Games, at Skydive Perris. We knew we could beat the 2-pointer with a larger group but everyone really wanted the fairytale scenario of 3 points with over 200 people…
Through frustrations on the 4th jump on Wednesday and 4 jumps on Thursday, event organizers Patrick, Milko Hodgkinson and Dieter Kirsch, along with the rest of the sector captains kept the mood positive. The record was close, but eluded us as we completed the final planned jump of the event on Thursday. So the organizers asked the jumpers to commit to no-more-than 2 jumps on Friday…truly a “Go Big or Go Home” scenario.
a Go Big or Go Home scenario
We were too close to say no. So, we showed up on Friday for one (or two) final attempts at making magic happen. The first jump was close. So - Friggin' - Close. Two beautiful points but not enough time for the third…
Dancing in full gear before the last jump, by Jose 'Nacho' Alvarez
Before boarding for the last jump, the atmosphere was incredible. The music was turned up and a skydiver conga line in full gear danced its way through the hangar. With Skydive Arizona manifester Jess Shultz cheerleading (as she had for every record attempt jump we made), we boarded the 4 Skyvans and 6 Twin Otters for one final attempt.
Top shot of 3-point 217-way, by Willy Boeykens
After landing, 217 jumpers asked “Did we get it” and 5 video flyers answered “It looked good from where I was”. Folks on the ground said the same thing. So, we waited for the judges to finish their scrutinizing. Again, the judges expertly let the suspense build before announcing that, yet again, a WORLD RECORD had been set! We hugged, we cheered, we celebrated by drinking American beer, Budweiser, “the King of Beers” from the beer truck.
Underneath view of 3-point 217-way, by Andrey Veselov
What did we achieve as well as TWO new World Records? Before this event, at least 6 events had tried for two points of over 200-way, of which only one was successful – the S202 by Sequential Games, in 2015, where we made two 2-point 202-way skydives. At this event, we made FIVE jumps of 2-points (one 219, four 217), and one 3-point skydive of 217. Every time we built the first point, we completed the second! Thanks and kudos to the organizing team, the judges and of course the cameraflyers who recorded our victorious skydives.
360-degree view of 3-point World Record, rotate to see everything!
Article by Helaine Rumaner. Helaine was born and raised in America, speaks American (that’s almost English if you ask a Brit), loves skydiving, Bruce Springsteen, eats pizza, cheeseburgers, and apple pie.