Maja Kuczynska – Bigger than the Sky
Stunning routine by Maja Kuczyńska
The Special Force 8-way is a very well organised tunnel camp, aimed at all levels of 8-way, from complete beginner to seasoned competitor. French World Champions Martial Ferré and Damien Sorlin of Veloce arrange the event, grouping skydivers into compatible teams, allocating slots and sending out 8-way coaching notes beforehand. Ros Ayling describes her experience at the camp, then Martial explains his aims in starting Special Forces…
I was excited to meet the rest of the team for the first time. In total there would be five 8way teams made up of a mixture of Belgians, French, Dutch and Germans which along with three coaches (Damien Sorlin and Martial Ferré from Veloce were joined by Brian Krause, former Golden Knights captain) and a 16 foot wind tunnel, made up the perfect ingredients for a Special Forces 8way tunnel camp.
We started flying early morning with 1 hour spread over three 20 minute sessions with a debrief after each session. A few weeks before, we had received a comprehensive coaching guide to the 8way dive pool as well as ‘best of’ tunnel footage of each of the blocks. As we had already been told which team and slot we were flying before we arrived, this meant we could do some homework to help with briefing the dives on the day.
I was a bit nervous as I was flying Point which was a new slot for me and also my piece partner was going to be Martial ‘le jaguar’ Ferré. I am used to flying with girls so being on a boy's team made for a very different dynamic! But it turned out some of my team were also flying new positions and everyone was very encouraging and relaxed and I didn’t come away with too many bumps or bruises.
For the rest of the week we flew an hour a day with two teams flying in the morning and three in the afternoon. Although my team had to get up early every morning, it meant we were finished by lunchtime and had some chill out time for cinema, shopping and a couple of beers.
We were lucky enough to be rotating with the French National 8way team who invited us back to their house for dinner one night. They are in the middle of training their new line-up for the World Championships in Prostejov, Czech in August. This was their third tunnel camp and they have been flying 10 hours on each one – all with rigs. I’m glad we didn’t have to do that! It was fantastic to see them in action, they are looking really fast and clean and I wish them lots of luck for their upcoming competition season.
The week ended with the last session being a 10 round competition draw (which the French team also took part in) so that we could put into practice everything that we had learnt. Although for Team Alpha it maybe didn’t represent how well we had been flying through the week, we still ended up on a 20.5 average which considering we had to dirt dive all ten rounds outside in the dark and snow in the tunnel car park half an hour before flying, I was actually really happy with.
This was the fourth time Martial and Damien from Veloce have run this event and it is a very well organised camp aimed at all levels ranging from Team Echo for those who have never flown 8way before to Team Alpha for those who have previously trained and competed at 8way. For anyone who is interested in having a go at learning 8way, I can definitely recommend it. Thanks everyone for a great trip and making me feel so welcome. Looking forward to next year!
By Rosalind Ayling, Brit Chicks National 8-way
Special Forces Camp, Paraclete 2014. Movie by Martial Ferré
I had the idea of this camp in October 2010 when I had just achieved my goal of being a World Champion in 8 way. Happy with my victory over the Golden Knights in Menzelinsk (Russia), I was also disappointed by the very poor participation in 8-way, with only 4 teams. One of my main goals for the future was to promote 8 way. I knew that Paraclete XP was the biggest tunnel and I heard about an annual in 8way competition, and seized that opportunity to propose an 8way indoor camp.
Our first camp in January 2011 people were very happy and that was the signal for an annual continuity. Year after year we brought more people. The problem is to make the skill level match. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This is the hardest part of the organisation. For the 2012 edition, 2 very talented people from the first camp wanted to put a stronger team together to go for excellence. They chose a pretty strong team that wanted to reach 17 average in the tunnel. After 6 hours of training we made officially at the indoor competition a nice 20.3 average! In this team, 3 future members of the French national teams were born :)
8 way is at the crossroads between speed and power. I strongly recommend everyone to fly 8-way
From then, we put together an Elite team made of former national team members or very strong skydivers from different countries. In 2013, Paul Oftsee from Team Thunder joined us for a new experience in 8 way. In 2014, we could bring 5 teams without sending any email, just by word of mouth. Due to the amount of people, we had to hire an extra coach: Brian Krause Golden Knights. We were also reinforced by Clémentine, Damien's stepdaughter and my niece [and French 4-way Open B team] who did a great job as a co-coach 'aide de camp'.
People who have never done 8 way before can pretend at knowing it 90% at the end of the camp, after just 6 days and 6 hours of flying time. It's a good way to start learning this great discipline which deserves more attention. I have heard camp participants saying that sensations were greater doing 8 way than 4 way! That was one of our goals; to make people love 8 way! Furthermore, 8 way is a great way to learn better skills to participate in challenging invitational events like Power Play, Mission Impossible or Arizona Challenge. 8 way is at the crossroads between speed and power. I strongly recommend everyone to fly 8 way! :)
Come and join the Special Forces camp, to qualify to be sent to the front! Why do I call use the image of Special Forces? Because it's a really a hard week for the campers, who will see many things in just few days. It's really intensive. It's also held near Fort Bragg, home of some of the Special Operations troops in the US. And when you have been to our camp, you become part of a corps and understand the 'esprit de corps' born into people who have shared intensive days.
Martial Ferré of Veloce will soon be starting a new series for Skydive Mag, explaining the 'forgotten' discipline of 8-way.