Wingsuit Progression Series
A series covering WS skydiving, from your FFC through Exits, Skydiving with Others & Safety, by Matt Gerdes & Taya Weiss...
During the summer at the K-Leef event, Island Siege, I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Karine Joly of Airwax. What you immediately notice is that Karine and teammate Greg, are professionals. There's no doubt Karine has goals in the sport and from the sidelines, it's inspiring to see the work and the payoff. We caught up with Karine in hopes of learning a little more about this fierce lady in the sport.
Hi Karine! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Let's dig in! Where are you from, when was your first jump, how many have you made so far and what kind of time have you put into the tunnel?
Hi! I'm from Lyon, France. I made my first jump as a tandem when I was 18. I literally fell in love. I made my first solo jump in February 2004 at Skydive El Paso with a static Line formation. I now have over 5000 jumps and 450 hours of tunnel time including coaching.
I made my first jump when I was 18. I literally fell in love.
Impressive! How did Airwax come about? Airwax team was created after a big talk with my partner in life, Greg Crozier. We were 26 years old and he told me one of his biggest regrets was to not have done any competition in skydiving.
I couldn't accept that and told him it was total bullshit to have regrets that young, and that we were going to make a Freefly team and go for competition! We started to train in 2009 and we brainstormed for a name. Our videoman at the time used to compete in windsurf, Greg was working as captain on boats and I was a designer for yachts, so we decided to find something linked with the sea. At the time I was crazy about surfing and we ended up talking about Mr Zog Surf Wax who created the famous Sex Wax for surfboards, we loved his bold idea, the logo and decided to switch “Sex” for “Air.” Our first logos were imitations of their visual.
Since 2009 we've had different videomen, we managed a few medals and achievements and settled down with Baptiste Welsch for 4 years now. Together we became official French Team last year and achieved a bronze in our first World Championships. Now we're aiming for gold and preparing for the World Championships next October in Australia.
We've been busy!
What is your training like? Well no secret, we train hard! In 2015 we actually went for one full month of training in Eloy, just the 3 of us, jumping every day, trying to find some new moves and work them until they become a routine. It's actually not that easy for us since Greg and I have real different body shapes and weight, it requires skills just to be falling next to each other! Our strengths are the years flying together as performers, it becomes more natural but every new movement or trick requires many jumps to end up on level.
Now that we are the National team, our federation provides us with training weeks during the year. For us, it is such a privilege and relief after all those years putting everything we had into the training!
I'm a sucker for females who are powering through it in our sport. Are there any that inspire you in the sky/tunnel? I've never really had any particular females that inspired me, but one person did really put some sparkles of admiration in my eyes back in Eloy when I had less than a hundred jumps… At my first boogie, a guy asked if he could jump with me and my buddy, we had no clue who he was, but he completely blew our minds in free fall with grace, speed and smile all at once. His name was Omar Alhegelan (Cheers to you Omar ;) And I will always look up to him for being so good, so humble and nice. As per the tunnel I do have a female who inspired me… when I was in Empuria training at Windoor, Inka Tiitto was often flying with Ty and Rafa, and I remember looking at her with pride. It was the first time I saw a woman shred like that with talented flyers. Later I felt really honored to compete at Charlewars by her side for 2WD. She was at a much higher level than me but actually managed to compose with our gaps. Thanks for that Inka, It was a great challenge for me and I loved it!
Is there one skydive that stands out among the rest? Or any moments in the tunnel that are memorable? There are so many! For sure that jump with Omar when I was a rookie. My first European record in 2011: we were 80 people in the sky, it was insane for me at the time! Also my first balloon jump was a blast. The object in itself is amazing, you are going up in a really antique and basic aircraft; a wooden basket, a piece of fabric and fire…what the #% ! Jumping low, not having any relative wind at exit. I just love the rush!
As for a memorable time in the tunnel; well so far it has been that competition for Charlewars when we ended up second, surrounded by all those super flyers from around the world!
I'll be back competing in 2WD this year with Magali Folkner Braff, so there will be some many memorable tunnel time to come for sure! ;)
What's a lesson you have learned in the sport that you wish you had learned right when you started? Lesson learned in the sport: You can progress fast in free fall with the help of the windtunnel, it's like buying some years of jumps in the sky to get to this technical level you aim at – fast. It sure helps to join some great level of jumps in boogies or skill camps (though don't forget the tunnel doesn't get you the experience of exits, big distances with speed and obstacles, and separation). But most of all, there is no such short cut for canopy piloting. This is the lesson I learned from the sport: landings cannot be practiced in a simulator, and you cannot be a swooper like you see in some DZ or competitions unless you have thousands of jumps and knowledge, and practice. I know it because I tried it when I had 800 jumps in 2009 trying a cool swoop that ended up in a very aggressive low turn and got so lucky I got away with just a femur broken into pieces. Today there are a lot of canopy piloting camps, with complete theoretical lessons as well as practices and follow up. I wish it had been around a lot longer.
the windtunnel, it's like buying some years of jumps in the sky.. but there is no such short cut for canopy piloting
Any words of advice for people looking to progress? Make a list of your priorities, start to plan a training: it can be with coached jumps one to one or tunnel camps. Find a good coach (be aware that good flyers are not necessarily good teachers), observe, ask and find a coach that matches with your expectations. When you have a good base (able to fly head down with good control) go do some skills camps, they are awesome to progress with a group of flyers that match your level, you'll meet a lot of great flyers and personalities, and you'll discover nice places!
Any final words for our readers? I get a lot of private messages of people wanting to get at the top of our sport in the fastest way. First of all, know that all the people you see “at the top” are mostly people who made a lot of sacrifices, put every penny they had into it, and went through a lot of obstacles to get there. It's easy to look at the emerged part of the iceberg, but it's the result of all this dedication; we fought for it, we've earned it.
the people you see "at the top" mostly made a lot of sacrifices
So if you really want that, be ready to go full on, make some plans, have a strategy, expect some hard times and be patient. Dreams can come true if you kick your ass and go chase them ;)
Much love to you all. I hope to get the chance to meet you in a drop zone or a tunnel!