Despite being considered by many as the original extreme sport, precious few people routinely jump out of aeroplanes for fun. The ways we share skills and experiences continue to evolve at pace, but while modern technological connectivity tools facilitate much for such scattered and transient groups of folk, the truly important parts of skydiving happen face-to-face. It is about being there. Working as a tour rep for an equipment manufacturer means incrementally becoming an avatar of your company’s business out in the world. It is not a job that is advertised or applied for in the traditional ways, nor is there a rigid structure or sacrosanct ruleset. The small number of people that do this must earn the trust of their employer while figuring out how best to get things done.
While on the road you represent the factory and its interests, but the opposite is also true – upon returning to base you represent the communities you meet and work with. It is perhaps this above all else that becomes the most important part of the job, as the relatively small number of skydivers combined with the high level of investment means each personal interaction can mean a lot, in both directions.
We began in Australia with some time since a tour. It had been eight years for Performance Designs, and longer for Cypres despite the odd competition or event here and there over the last couple of decades. Ultimately we got quite lucky with the big logistics puzzle, being able to visit a good balance of boogies, camps, and competitions in four of the primary population centres of Australia – most easily described as the cities and skydiving communities of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane.
In Europe and the USA, skydiving events can be a very mixed bag. Both territories host some of the highest quality gatherings that exist, but the scale of effort and investment can also vary wildly. It is perhaps a symptom of the distance to and from Australia that strengthens their skydiving community in a way that is quickly apparent to outsiders who spend their time at a lot of different skydiving spots. We left Australia owing their community an upgraded sense of collective effort and investment in how skydiving can function as a whole. Not one thing in particular – just a sprinkle of additional positivity in all areas, no matter what your stake is in the sport or role on the dropzone. People help, support and look out for each other in skydiving all around the world. The Aussies are nailing it to the wall.
After two months and eight dropzones, the list of individuals to whom we owe thanks is huge. This is time for us to thank our respective teams and support structures at both Cypres and Performance Designs, who trust us to be their faces and their voices out in the world. We are immensely lucky for this to be our work, and we can only do so because you have chosen us and encourage us.
Perhaps here and now it is most fitting to simply say one colossal expression of gratitude to the entire skydiving community of Australia. We had a spectacular time, and it was down to all of you.
Thank you all.
Rich Madeley and Joel Strickland.
Cypres Joel and Richy PD.