Catching up with... Matt Lajeunesse
Matt Lajeunesse has over 1200 BASE jumps and works tirelessly to help the BASE community in many ways...
In 8way Microclim8, our British team going to the World Championships Chicago, were battling to reclaim the title of National Champion that they lost last year to Ex Presidents, here to defend their gold. Both teams have a new line-up since last year, Microclim8 had brought in new blood of Martin Cressey and Jonny Flowers, of Eclipse, the team that placed equal fourth in the 4-way. They had also scooped Dennis Parker, of Voodoo fame, who was on Ex-Presidents last year, to join long-standing team members Pooky, Martin Soulsby, Phil Hartree, and last year’s team members Ros Ayling and Audrey Rowe, also of Brit Chicks 8 fame.
It’s all very incestuous, as Ex Presidents line-up 2016 had more of the original Microclim8 than they did; Stumpy, Kev Sargent, Mark Whitehead, Debbie Lamsley, Helen Arnold and Maria Russell. Joined by Lesley Gale (Brit Chicks) and a hungover Pete Mather (Vision 99 4-way), who did a 4-day crash course in 8-way with most of Ex-Presidents in Skydive Algarve. Pete bluffed his way through the Nationals using cues like ‘bipole’, ‘donut’, ‘legs’ and ‘spinny thing’, to an 11.2 average.
Microclim8 beat us on every round bar one, which we drew. They are a worthy British team to represent us at the World Meet. The line-up has a great combination of ‘old foxes’ with loads of 8-way competition/training experience, and new blood with tunnel-honed flying skills, who are injecting enthusiasm and new life in the team. The team has been coached for the last two years by Thomas of the French 8-way team. Previously for many years Microclim8 did not have a coach. Thomas took the team back to basics last year, which can be quite a painful experience! This year they reaped the benefits, doing some very beautiful, smooth, synchronous skydiving to the gold medal position, and making five people new 8-way National Champions. Microclim8 ended on an 13.5 average, not so far from the British record average of 13.7, set by VNE with at least two of the same team members in 2003, Gap World Champs. I hope that Microclim8 can boost that performance in Chicago and set a new Brit Record, good luck guys! Cool to see Martin Soulsby, the Chairman of the BPA, such a current, accomplished competitive skydiver. I hope he has forgiven us now for last year! ;-)
The bronze medal was the most closely contested. A new line-up of ZKR made some lovely skydives and had an uplifting yet relaxed team vibe. They took bronze with an 8.9 average. In the end the medal was decided on the last round. Behind them with 81 points were Project Ride the Dragon, a new team of great 4-way skydivers transferring their talents to a new discipline. Awkward Turtles scored 69 in their fourth year in senior 8-way, this is a scratch team that gets together for Nationals and always does well with lots of laughs. The top four teams were all clean with not a single bust between them. The standard was excellent throughout senior and it was excellent to see 6 teams entering.
In Intermediate, Insalmon8, a team of freeflyers enjoyed the challenge of 8-way and found it a lot harder than they expected! (Just like I do head-up flying!). After a while they abandoned the launch (which kept exploding) in favour of ‘swimming’ down the slipstream (wiggling like salmon), keeping the judges entertained. It was brilliant to see crossover between disciplines, just as it is always a good combination to see the Freefly, Freestyle and Speed Nationals running alongside the 8-way. They deserve their bronze medal for having the courage to step outside their comfort zones, and swimming to success!
BCP8.1 romped their way through 15 points in 8 rounds, taming the exit beast to claim silver. The aptly named Chunk put up some good jumps and ended with a 4.75 average, nice one guys!
Once again massive thanks to Skydive Hibaldstow for a smart, safe and successful competition, completing the remaining 4-way, all the 8-way, artistics and Speed over the second competition weekend. Thought for the day … Did you know, in the 17+years the British Nationals has been run over three consecutive weekends it has never needed the third weekend!
Other Nationals articles here
Scores on the doors here