Bodyflight Bedford, the World's largest indoor skydiving wind tunnel once again plays host to the World Challenge - two heated competitions of Freefly and Formation flying. The Bodyflying competition attracts athletes from around the globe to pitch their flying skills against each other in a bid to win some of the £20,000 cash prize pot.
The ex-MOD wind tunnel was built in the 1950s as an aerodynamics research facility. Its use was relatively short-lived and the site was converted by Nottinghamshire businessman, Paul Mayer into a new leisure attraction, opening its doors to the public in September 2005.
Just seven months since its opening, the first Bodyflight Bedford World Challenge took place in April 2006.
After a hard fought battle, Formation Skydiving champions, Airspeed Odyssey from the US took first place in the Formation event, walking away with £4,000. Second place was awarded to Belgium's national team, Spa Hayabusa who took home £2,000; the Swedish based Team 42 took third place with £1,500 and Fast & Furious from Italy snatched fourth place and £500.
Teams were enjoying the fast turn around and trying to make the most of their 35 seconds working time, which kicked off as soon as the first team member went through an entry door. The Judges were scoring via DVD recorded from the overhead cam. With 12 teams entered, each round took approx 15 minutes to complete!
On Sunday, Freeflyers took over. There were 11 teams entered the competition.
The 2-way freefly competition was also run along the same lines as international skydiving events. Element-R (Cathy Bouetter & Fabian Raidel) were crowned the winners and received £4,000, second place and £2,000 was awarded to Babylon (Fred & Vince), Mamba Airkix (Joao Tambor & Mike MacKenzie) walked away with third place and £1,500 with £500 and fourth place being given to The Joe & Carlos Show (Joe Winters & Carlos Euribe).
Cathy Bouette of Element-R said, "Winning the competition was such a big surprise for Fabian and I because Joe & Carlos are known as the 'Tunnel Kings' and won the last wind tunnel competition in the US! I could not believe it! We had the chance to train a little a couple weeks before to get our two routines solid for the competition!"
"Each team had a 5-minute warm up before the start of the competition. Rounds 1, 3, 4, 6 & 7 were Free Rounds where we were able to show whatever you want and try to impress the judges for 60 seconds. We practiced 2 Free Routines trying to be as smooth as possible with a smile - and on time! Rounds 2 & 5 were Compulsories. They picked 5 randoms out of 8, separating Belly/Back & Sit/Head Down because of the speed changes. The judges seemed to be fairly happy, giving us high scores for the last round. I really, really enjoyed this event - and as my 1st tunnel competition, it didn't turn out so bad! It was such a privilege to fly with Fabian, he is really an amazing flyer with great energy!
"There was a very nice atmosphere during this weekend from all the participants and organizers. I really like the fact that it is mixed, not only between men and women but also nationalities. Such a nice feeling to be flying, looking at people's faces on the other side of the window! It's kind of like being on stage, it gives you more energy than being by yourself in the big blue sky! For me especially, seeing the smile on my parents' faces before each round."
On 7-8 April 2007 Bodyflight will again host a competition of two categories; both of which are 'Open' so allowing a broad spectrum of flyers to enter and compete against each other. This year twice as many teams will be able to take part, up to 30 in each category!
Both events will be run concurrently over both days with a celebratory party afterwards. As added excitement, participants in the Freefly category will be setting two of their free routines to music. Pre-edited tracks will be available for them to use or they may create their own. This state of the art progression will allow Freeflying teams to go that step further and express themselves by dancing to music in mid-air.
Following the success of this first ever World Challenge and the overwhelming interest shown by the skydiving community, this year's event promises to be a must in the sporting calendar.
Teams are invited to apply for a place in the Challenge online at www.worldchallenge.info