WOW! Tiny nation Finland set an 80-way record!
Last year was the first edition of this event, the VIP 32-way Invitational Sequentials. The Austrian Markus Kordesch, whom I met at the Klatovy 100-way Challenge three years ago, proposed to me to organize a group of 32 very experienced skydivers, which would be a first in Hohenems.
There are 15 DZs in Austria, mostly small clubs. With an average of 9000 jumps a year, Hohenems is the biggest and most important of all, capable of running a Grand Cessna Caravan in profit, despite a number of jumps that seems low compared to the activity of many centres of Europe.
Skydive Hohenems is a true club, run like the great cooperative centres found in France. A group of friends, experienced skydivers, split the positions of President, Secretary and Treasurer; these are annually renewed at each general meeting so this team knows to keep the Center healthy and in good spirits. Skydive Hohenems works with a fully paid Grand Cessna Caravan, which offers a financial security for this lovely club DZ.
Episode number 1 photos went crazy on social media last year, so the 2017 edition easily doubled in numbers, with great success. My partner in Sequential Games, Dieter Kirsch, was asked by Skydive Hohenems to organize a second group of 32, allowing two rotations for the two Caravans flying in formation, the DZ’s own Caravan and one from a German centre 20 minutes flying time away.
On my first trip by car last year, I was surprised to find that Skydive Hohenems is not so far from the French border, and also with Switzerland and Germany. Austria, a charming country, is centrally located and only 600 km wide, so it’s not so far from anywhere in Europe! Hohenems is located in the extreme west, near beautiful Lake Constance on the borders of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. It’s under two hours by car from the Zurich or Munich airports. So, I understood why participants found it easy to discover the charms of jumping in Austria! The format of the event was 20 challenging jumps over 4 days, all at 4200 meters, with social events every night.
Austria has its own character; verdant, rustic and rural, with rolling green fields meandering down to gorgeous valleys bordered by stunning mountains. Between Lake Constance on one side and the mountains on the other, you never tired of the ride to altitude. It was nice and warm during this event, and the big summer clouds on the hills looked magnificent. Twelve nations were represented on the two groups. The centre's facilities are minimal but sufficient, and the DZ is well kept and friendly. Everything fits into a single hangar and the landing zone is long, wide and green.
We had four days of delightful fun and games for this second edition of the VIP 32-way! The pace was perfect, with six jumps a day for each of the two groups, first take-off at 8:15 and one last jump sufficiently enough to take the time to enjoy the evening. Each night, Markus Kordesch planned an outing, a restaurant or a party. There was one particularly special jump, with four loads of 16 for what is called an “in-hopp”, landing between two mountains and a long green valley lost in the Austrian reliefs. We were warmly welcomed by the Model Aircraft Club, nicely nestled in this lush green space. Around the rustic wooden club building there were barbecues, long tables and benches, a beer keg and music. After a high adrenline jump, this was everything the group of 60 needed to feel at one with the world!
It was a great pleasure to organize this highly skilled 32-way group, making 2 -4 points, and mixing the difficulty and flow according to the type of break. I like the 32-way, because they you have the fun of formation loads, but the load is small enough for everyone to move for 3 or 4 points, and vary slots and difficulty while doing great quality jumps.
Pleased with the success of this event, Skydive Hohenems plans to organize the VIP 32-way Sequentials next year – Edition number 3. I was very happy that most of my group wants to return, the same with Dieter’s group. And if we have more talented jumpers that want to come to this unique event, we could make a third group to come and play. It's very likely, because after all this part of Austria is not so far!