Competitors exited from the 236m high roof of the Istanbul Sapphire Tower, the tallest building in Europe. We then had to freefall for between 2 and 3.5 seconds before opening our parachutes. Points were deducted for incorrect freefall duration or for our parachutes opening off heading. We then had to pilot our canopies to a precision accuracy landing.
To me, this competition is about accuracy. The freefall delay is a basic skill to get right. Unless conditions dictate that you need to open high and accept you lose a few points for a tactical advantage, it should be a given. I gained a perfect score.
For the heading direction of the canopy, this is an intermediate skill. But, there is only so much you can do to influence this. Once you have used up your intermediate level of skill there’s a large dose of luck with the last bit. So, I must have had some luck as, again, I got a perfect score.
In accuracy, my approach wasn’t perfect. I was flying my Jump4Heroes Troll 265 with a Poppy logo. I landed slightly heavily and 12cm off the very center of the target. This wasn’t a perfect score but extremely high up there. I felt I could do better.
I was leading but didn’t feel I had fully earned a first place. The way the scoring system worked I had 297.6 points, out of a total of 300. My closest rivals, who had had perfect accuracy scores but had deductions elsewhere, were on 290 points.
We had completed one round out of six so it was still anyone’s game. I might have been in the lead but I felt I hadn’t quite earned it. The scoring system placed a larger emphasis on other safety aspects than on the accuracy and, on this occasion, it was to my benefit.
I developed a strategy to stay at the top. I had a plan. I would go out there and give the performance of my life and win with the best scores over six rounds.
But then the weather turned. It got windy and turbulent. We didn’t jump. For 2 nights I stayed in first position. I tried to keep my cool but, in all honesty, it was stressful.
About an hour before the end of the competition the conditions started to ease. A couple of people did test jumps. There was a push to start the competition. The pressure was on.
But the conditions weren’t great. The wind direction was poor – if you had an off heading canopy opening there was a good chance of ending up crashing back into the side of the building and bouncing down it repeatedly. There was turbulence.
A few competitors jumped. There were lulls in between the gusts. On one jump Tom Erik Heimen was set up on finals to land on the target when a gust completely rolled up the accuracy pad and he landed on the concrete where it would have been!
There were a number of competitors that were not happy to jump in these conditions. Many would have had something to gain by jumping with the potential to move up the rankings. I was in the group of those not content to jump alongside experienced BASE jumpers such as Jay Moledzki, Chris “Douggs” McDougall, Miles Daisher, Mike Swanson, Jamie Flynn, Julian Boulle, Justine Edde, Fully Sik (yes, that’s his real name) and Matt Robinson. We weren’t able to mitigate the risk of jumping in those conditions to an acceptable level.
Round 2 had been started. It needed 50% of competitors to jump to make the round count. This didn’t happen. The competition was over and only one round had been completed.
I had won. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I wanted to win over 6 rounds. Of course, I was happy that I’d won but it was a bit of an anti-climax. It wasn’t the way I wanted to win. But we followed the rules and the officials made the calls. It was time for the prize giving and to celebrate.
The event was publicised on at least 12 different TV channels in Turkey and National media coverage had an estimated value of 1.5 million Liras. In UK, coverage is still coming in but here’s a link to the piece on The Royal British Legion website.
Thanks must go to the organizers for a great event, despite the weather, in particular to Hubert and Can and the judges for their tireless work. Also to my fellow competitors and notably those that I shared the podium with, Jason Moledzki, Miles Daisher and Sebastian Einicke, who showed such strong sportsmanship to allow me to stand there proud with them.
Next year I’ll be back. I’m going to train hard and plan to be stood in the same place after all six rounds. See you all then.