02 / 10 / 2007

2007 Empuriabrava / Airspeed challenge and skills camp.

Sunday the 30th of September saw the closing of the 2nd Empuriabrava / Airspeed challenge. This year the challenge was real as the 60-way formation did not get complete. Due to low clouds and high winds coming off the sea there were only two attempts made at the 60-way formation designed by Craig Girard and Gary Beyer. On the first jump there was only one grip missing and on the second jump a wave went through a nearly complete 60-way leaving three people low. To quote Gary Beyer, “It would not be a challenge if we get it right on the first jump”. However, there were some high level skydives made on the days leading up to the challenge.

The official starting date for the challenge was on Thursday the 27th, but some 48 skydivers arrived on the day before for the warm up day, only to be blown out by the wind that carried on through the entire first day of the challenge. In addition to the 60 participants for the challenge, there were another 18 participants, who were not quite yet up to the challenge level, ready to jump with Airspeed’s Eliana Rodriguez on a skills camp. .

Friday morning saw blue skies and no wind. The plan for the day were four 16-way groups to jump with Gary and Craig. Two super otters hauled the skydivers to 15.000 ft, which gave the participants plenty of “air time” and enabled the groups to do complex skydives while at the same time turning up to 10 points. Bruno, Anne, Regan and Mat did a jam session in the evening during the barbeque at the Skyrats Bar. A couple of the participants joined in to demonstrate that not only did they have skydiving skills but they were also talented singers.

Saturday also turned out to be a warm, non-windy day with a few clouds around. The groups combined into 32-ways with both twin otters flying in formation. The skydives were great and expectations were high. The group was ready for any formation that Gary and Craig would throw at them. In the meanwhile Eliana had split her group into two 8-ways for a couple of jumps with surprising results when the 8-ways combined back to a 16-way. To quote Miguel Vargas, one of the participants on the skills camp, “We need to do this every 3 months”.

Sunday dawned with a thick mist and low cloud. Jumping eventually got started at around about midday, but was soon stopped due to more low cloud blowing in by an increasing wind. It soon became clear that the weather would hamper any attempt all day. For the 60-way challenge the Beech 99 joined the two twin otter. There were just enough slots for 60 participants and the three official cameramen: Bruno, Gustavo and Swoop. After the first failed attempt by only one grip the group was confident that it would be in the bag soon. However a second attempt could not be made until just an hour before sunset, which eventually turned out to be a failure.

Despite the weather and an unsuccessful challenge attempt, good skydives were done otherwise by all the groups. The next challenge in Empuriabrava is scheduled for the 25th to 28th September 2008. The first 2 days will be three 20 way groups led by Gary Beyer, Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez. After that we’ll see what the Airspeed gang come up with!

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