World Team Fails to Break Record
Photograph by Andrey Veselov/AP
Attempts are currently under way in Eloy, AZ to break the two point big way world record. The World Team has 222 skydivers from 28 countries are working hard at carving their names into the record books. The goal is an ambitious one with the previous world record standing at only 110 jumpers, so should the World Team successfully accomplish their goal, they will have more than doubled the number of jumpers on the record that currently stands. The event is being held as the 20th anniversary event for the World Team.
Training jumps began already on Friday, March 28 when warm weather and a light breeze offered the jumpers near perfect conditions for the first day of training. The first training jumps consisted of 4 groups of jumpers, a base group of 42, along with three other groups of 66. Initial jumps were quite successful with the base group managing to complete four successful jumps, while the groups of 66 managed to perform three jumps with two complete sectors on each jump. The record attempt schedule set three days aside for practice, with record attempts beginning on March 31st.
On the second day of training the bar was raised with only two groups being created, as opposed to the four groups that jumped on the first day. The formation practice was now done via the formation of a 90-way and a 132-way. Each group managed to make four jumps on the day and again progress was clearly evident, as the jumpers gave it their all. Safety is always of the highest standard during big way events, and despite the extremely skilled nature of the team, the demands that a large scale record attempt puts on the competitors make it easy for concentration to lapse. The practice days of the event seek to slowly build up the quality of the jumps and move the team closer and closer towards the final goal.
The final day of dedicated training began with some reshuffling of the formation sectors. The 132-way group which was operating on a full base got some practice in on the mini base by downsizing to a 90-way group, while the 90-way group from the day before would spend some time getting practice on the full base as a 132-way group. Practice on this day was cut short by 30-knot winds at 1600'. Time that was lost in the sky was spent by the team practising their jump with some dirt dives on the grass. Earlier in the day the 90-way team was able to make a first point completion, but the 132-way team was still struggling due to difficulties with the base.
Record Attempts Begin
The World Team began early on Monday, with a forecast for some less than ideal wind conditions later in the day. The plan was for a couple of final practice jumps in the morning before the record attempts would start, at around noon. The base managed to make two practice jumps, with only the Alpha team docking as one sector. The second jump provided a well established base and it was then decided for the record attempts to begin. The first jump would not seek for completion but rather aim to establish the build in stages. The base would complete and then allow the jumpers from the sectors to get into their quadrants and feel become comfortable with their position in the formation, there was no pressure for them to dock during this exercise. Unfortunately, as predicted, the wind did come up in the afternoon and cut the attempts short. The down time once again being used for dirt diving practice.
Photograph by Gustavo Cabana/AP Improvements were made on Tuesday, 1st April when the team began practising achieving the full 222-way formation. The first jump of the day saw the teams beginning some of the docking on the base, while the second jump saw a further improvements in the attempt. The third and final jump of the day was the most successful with the formation then nearing completion. The team would look to then, on Wednesday further the progress and attempt to make their first point. Once the first point is made, the sights could focus on completing the two point formation.
It was an early start on Wednesday when the team began through first dirt dives just after 06:30 in the morning, but before being able to get into the air at the scheduled time of 07:00, low cloud came in and caused a delay to the progression of the record attempt. The teams decided that they would spend the morning period while unable to get in the sky, to practice with smaller groups, which would then take to the sky once the clouds had passed. There were some changes to the base in order to give the group confidence that they would have a solid base to build on. The first jump after the weather cleared would consist of the 42-way base which would be docked on by a further 66-way group. This jump was extremely successful with the base building quickly and the remaining 66 jumpers slotting into position with good form; a 108-way formation was done to perfection and eyes then turned to the ultimate goal of completing the 222-way.
Photograph by Andrey Veselov/AP The second jump of the day saw all 222 jumpers and come very close to completion. One of the sectors were complete while another fell just short. Overall things were very close, and hopes turned to being able to complete the formation and break the record later that day. Unfortunately however, the weather once again hampered proceedings and high winds meant that it would be the last jump for the day and attempts would resume on Thursday.
On Thursday, 3 April 2014 the atmosphere in the camp changed dramatically. Early in the morning one of the Diana Paris of Berlin, who was participating in the event suffered a malfunction. Paris, aged 46 was declared dead on the scene after her parachute was released too low, and unable to open fully prior to impact. Diana Paris was an experienced skydiver with over 1500 jumps. The team honored Paris later in the day by performing a "man missing" formation. The team have also decided that out of respect, they will not be replacing Paris for the record attempt, and instead will be aiming for a 221-way record instead of a 222-way.
Despite suffering the loss of Paris, the team are still motivated to accomplish their record on Friday, the final day of the attempts.
The Final Day
The World Team returned to the record attempts on Friday morning, but were unfortunatly unable to complete the FAI sanctioned world record. Things were looking solid at the end and the team came extremely close, falling only two skydivers short of the record, with them being unable to link. As such an unofficial record of a 2-way 219-way skydive was achieved.
Information sourced from The World Team Blog