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Taking SA events to the next level…

Ocean view at Skydive Mossel Bay 🙂
Photo by Bernard van Rensburg

We South African skydivers are a suppressed and frustrated bunch. Our difficulties include having to deal with a 75% blue-sky days, low-priced beer and 9-week winters. Imagine!!

On the downside, we have limited lift altitude at the interior-country DZs (due to their high elevation) and a fleet of useful but smallish turbine aircraft that restrict formation sizes to 8 jumpers & video. The result is a skydiving population that has grown up with limited exposure to a type of jumping that our European and American based cousins enjoy routinely; packed-up, non-linked, fast-flow exits and multi-point, quick-working larger formations.

To help amend the situation, enter Skydive Mossel Bay (SMB).

A cool 11-way formation over the clouds
Photo by Bernard van Rensburg

Skydive Mossel Bay

SMB is owned by longtime skydiver Henk van Wyk, run at high efficiency by manager Monica Biesenbach and located about 300km east of Cape Town on SA’s famed coastal Garden Route; itself squeezed between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua mountain range (and then beyond the mountains the vast semi-desert Karoo, stretches into the interior). The general attractions of the area are extensive and include: beaches, hiking, golf, fishing, surfing, shark-diving, wine farms, whale-spotting, and on and on…

SMB has good relations with the various local municipalities and is able to arrange beach jumps at locations along the coast – with one of the beaches the site of a famed eat-all-you-can fresh fish restaurant not to be missed. Frequently sunset loads are arranged into that venue, followed by the superb and fun feast – and then a lift home in the DZ bus.

In addition, the DZ has an alternate location on the north side of the Outeniquas, at the town of Oudtshoorn, meaning that if coastal weather shuts down the primary DZ it can be possible to temporarily relocate to a completely different climate location approx. 60km away – or just go there for fun.

A King Air C90 is the primary workhorse, lifting 15 jumpers, and for a few years the DZ has run a laid back year-end boogie catering to all freefall disciplines.

For a King Air, we managed some relatively tight exits
Photo by Bernard van Rensburg

The Plan

The plan for this year’s event was to invite 14 skilled FS jumpers to a ‘sealed’ group within the boogie, hire us a BnB lodge about 2km from the DZ and push the fun button. The plan worked well.

We did hit a speedbump in the arrangements when some chap in Wuhan ate a bat and unraveled all our lives a tad, but we were lucky that the net effect on the group was to lose only 3x jumpers from the pre-committed team and we were game-on!

Although the door of the C90 is small and the run in speed a little high; that’s all part of the fun, and the challenge is offset by a fast climb to 14,000ft (16,000ft available on request).

All exits were no-contact and we managed to get 4 floaters out + video; not bad in the circumstance of the external bar a little too short at the front end. The front floater in particular requires some strength and grit to get out and stay forward. With a little more practice, and selecting the *cough* leaner people of the team I’m confident that we can get 5 floaters out in future.

Line slots were swapped each day. It was cool to see team members taking each other aside to transfer learnings, and this became such an efficient process that we experienced a consistent improvement in the exit technique and the team time from exit to first point.

Happiness is a 14-way skills camp
Photo by Bernard van Rensburg

The Event Was a Success

The experiment was a great success. As mentioned SA skydivers have had little exposure to this type of skydiving project and it was rewarding to see the performance improvement as everyone dialed in over the course of the week. By the time we came to the end of the camp, both group members and the DZ were asking about an opportunity to run these events more frequently.

It was rewarding to see the performance improvement as everyone dialed in over the course of the week

As a result, we will be looking to repeat the format a few times in the year ahead. We’ll be sure to maintain a high standard among invitees so that we can be sure of a quality experience for those in each team – and an aspiration for those looking in, but not quite ready.

Anyone north of the equator with the requisite experience and pining for that 75% sunshine factor is welcome to make contact about joining in 🙂 Get in touch via the author box below.

The SA gang is looking forward to the next event
Photo by Bernard van Rensburg
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Meet: Paul Marcellin

Simba aka Paul Marcellin - maternally Scottish, paternally French and by all other measures South African.
Primarily focussed on FS4 and FS8, represented SA in both on a number of occasions. AFF instructor with 6000 jumps.
Lucky participant on the WorldTeam 400-way and somewhat surprised to have become a LO. Faking it until they find out I don’t know what I’m doing :).

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