For speed skydiving competitions we do eight rounds total. At this stage of the competition we have completed six, and with just a few kilometers (per hour) difference between us at the top – one jump could be enough to stay in second place or move to sixth. It is really close.
We have been having some weather here. If you have really strong or difficult wind conditions, you need a high experience level to be able to use that for speed. If the winds hit you and the rig at the right angle it pushes you a little more down. You can use it, and the race is so tight that it could make a difference in the end. Every round is different because throughout the day the wind changes a little bit, so you need to have a good feeling for the environment, the conditions, and the place. Then, you need a good plane if you want to stand on top of the podium.
During the jump, you aim for a fixed point. We want to fix a point on the ground, then we fly to that, or a little over or below. If you don’t have this point because of clouds that are moving during a twenty-second speed skydive, then it can be much more difficult to find the right angle to fly as fast as possible.
With your rig on your back, your body is not totally symmetrical. So instead of aiming for straight down, you want to fly at a bit of a positive angle – like one or two degrees positive. This allows you to maybe reach a perfect sweet spot where you can accelerate hard and reach a higher speed.
You can feel the burble in the jump. The faster you fly, the more you feel it because it gets closer and closer to your body. Once you are going fast, the ways you can move are quite limited – and you don’t want to touch it. If you touch it, your body hits what feels like a wall, and can it can generate unwanted movement really fast. The idea is quite simple, you jump out and don’t move, anything, and you can be the fastest person on earth.
We are a big family in speed skydiving. We like to see each other and fly together. Sure, our goal is to beat each other, but it is important just to make progress with your level. This time part of our family is missing. If the British and the Australian delegations are not here, who are some of the fastest, then we are not complete – but overall it is great that there are so many people from many different countries here.
Everybody shares the knowledge of special things to do to become a little better. We talked the whole day today about our strategies and techniques that everyone can use to go a little faster. We have no secrets in our sport. We all have a special technique that works, but we share that knowledge.
Using the FlySight system for speed helps us to match GPS data to the barometric system from before. We get to use extra information now about dive angles – and this was a really big change for training. I use the data a lot for training, but it requires time. You need a lot of discipline to analyze every jump you do in a day, but it helps and it works.
My container is from Paratec – the only German manufacturer. We worked together especially on the form of the container, which is a little flatter than others – which was for me a big solution to fly a bit steeper and faster. We also tried a little thinner material because it is still strong enough, but it grabs the air a little bit less. I also worked together with Skyhelmets to find a new surface material for the helmets, and also Boogieman for suits. The suit I use is not special, except I wear one size smaller than I should.
People have tried a lot of different things over the years. Neoprene dive suits are no good because at high speeds, the material stretches, starts to flap, and then gets hot. Someone tried latex, like sex shop material, but it exploded during the jump. The technique is the most important thing. I think maybe there is a suit material that would help like 2% – but we are not quite at that point yet.