Catching up with... Matt Lajeunesse
Matt Lajeunesse has over 1200 BASE jumps and works tirelessly to help the BASE community in many ways...
As a result of interviewing JaNette Lefkowitz, one of the leading lights in female skydiving, she invited me on her event, a ladies sequential Florida state record. As the Florida Female Skydiving State Record (single point) is a 60-way, this means a multiple point dive of 15 or more women would qualify for the state sequential record (it must be a quarter or more of the single point) . Coming up to the weekend, 4-5 March, the forecast was for strong gusty winds, clouds and even rain – classic weather for record attempts! JaNette reminded the group by email that forecasts can be wrong and don’t be ‘that girl’ who doesn’t turn up. Impressively, 17 ladies assembled at 8am, Sat March 4, at Skydive Sebastian, despite it ‘blowin’ a hoolie’ as we’d say in the UK.
We dirtdived the jump, a nice little puzzle where some got to move on point 2, and almost everyone was active going to point 3. The group varied in experience from Lucia with 200 jumps to JaNette with 9,500. About a third of the load had not made a record before.
It was to be a loooong wait in the day but JaNette was amazing in keeping us educated, entertained and interested, with a range of seminars covering everything from big-way tips to left/right brain focus on skydiving, Cypres demo and discussion, 4-way question and answer, tracking skills and more.
Eventually the wind gods relented and gave us a window late afternoon. We knew this would most likely be our only shot at this record. It was now or never. We rode to altitude with joy in our hearts, and a determined frame of mind. About to exit we were surprised by the pilot wishing us luck and letting us know we had a little extra height to give us the best chance.
The jump was sweet. You could see the lack of experience in the load – to me this made the skydive all the more beautiful. Although some would see this as an easy jump, everything is hard when you only have 200 jumps! We built the first point, and transitioned through the second point to the third – outstanding! There were a couple of moments when it could have gone proper pear-shaped but grit and mettle shone through. We all knew this was our only chance. It was someone’s first jump for 6 months, another’s first after surgery, some first at this location, first record attempt - everyone had their own PS (personal shit) to deal with.
After landing we were happy to hear the judge’s quick declaration that everything was in order, according to the presented plan, and we were proud record-makers. A three-point 17-way was respectable to put in the books (two points would have been sufficient but much sweeter with 3). Good job we made that jump count, as the next day was totally weathered out. So, it was a ‘cheap’ record, with only one jump to pay for, although of course we would all rather have made more fun dives together.
Hats off to JaNette a very successful day in the classroom, which undoubtedly contributed to our focus when the window of opportunity opened. Skydive Sebastian is one of the most beautiful places in the world to jump, with stunning views over the intercoastal water… go check it out if you haven’t already.
ShawnaRae M Miliano
Lucia Lee Paul
The next women’s event for JaNette is the Illinos state record, this August, aiming for a sequential 50-way. Go girlfriends!