Paradise Portugal: What lingers most in the mind as someone observing from close proximity at an event organised and run by Tora Tora is the effort made for every attendee to get as much from the experience as possible.
is the final big freefly jamboree of the European Season. Two weeks in the sunshine of the Southern tip of the Algarve before things wind down for the Winter. While the attendance numbers would usually define it as a boogie, Tora Tora provide a very long list of accomplished organisers. The groups can remain small enough for this to be essentially a giant skills camp. With so many groups every, effective management here is extra important. Skydive Algarve guaranteeing at least fifteen thousand feet for every load there is a plenty of freefall time for groups to zoom off over the town or the estuary or the golf Course. A particular challenge for leaders to navigate fast groups when your are perhaps internally wired to process things from the more regular exit altitude of thirteen thousand feet or thereabouts.
big events can all too easily descend into chaos. The sheer number of things to consider and manage mean, that in less practiced circumstances things can become tense and fragmented as organisers look to their own immediate surroundings to keep their group and their discipline both safe and happy. After attending all of the Tora Tora events this year – first in Slovenia for Adventure Boogie and then Hungary for the Heli Camp – what is apparent is that Tora Tora understand the importance of sometimes outwardly invisible details that keep everything and everyone at an event working together. The glue between the pieces if you will – is things like the daily feedback forms – completed by every organiser. Worked over deep into the evening and made ready for morning that really make a difference. Moving particular flyers from one group to another to have them in the best position to progress each and every day is normal practice. But to do it with smooth communication and coherence is what keeps something on this scale centred and sustains an atmosphere of togetherness for the event.
that Tora Tora also have an eye firmly on the big picture of what we are doing is sandwiched between the two weeks of the event. In the very respectable surroundings of nearby Portimao’s fishing museum, we are presented with the first Life As A Pro conference. Four speakers: Marius Sotberg, Pete Allum, Domi Kiger and Will Penny each performed a 45 minute seminar designed to offer advice to those seeking to progress their career in the skydiving industry. These talks cover contemporary issues in our sport from grand to intimate – such as Will Penny drawing our attention to whether we might soon be viewed as a wasteful and needless activity as opposed to a resource-heavy but responsible one, or Marius sharing publicly a story which many of us would perhaps have kept to ourselves – in which through a careless moment he put the lives of some others in real jeopardy, and ultimately from which he drew important lessons. Each speaker shared valuable knowledge gained from their personal experience, and although we collectively gave up a perfect skydiving day – everybody emerged into the sunshine feeling that they had invested their time well.
that a good coach will examine every aspect and element of a student’s flying in order for them to get the absolute most from their training, Tora Tora seem to be at this stage aiming to perform a similar function for freefly itself – to examine our place within skydiving, to analyse exactly what we do and how we do it, and even help contextualise our sport within not only within air sports, but also our place in the actual real world. How we are represented and how we conduct ourselves a humans. It is also not unusual to see Tora Tora’s leader, Jasper van der Meer, stooped over the recycling bins, carefully arranging the contents into the correct container. Success is in the details.