Three different 108-way formations, with a total break between!
The third week of October 2023, skydivers from all over the world assembled in Eloy, Arizona to attempt to set a 3-point TBS (Total Break Sequential) World Record. The phenomenal leadership team was already a great representation of the diversity of the group, with Dieter Kirsch (Germany), Martial Ferré (France), Milko Hodgkinson (UK), Niklas Hemlin (Sweden/US), Mikhail Markine (Russia/US), and Joey Marshall (US) coming together to guide the group.
The group itself represented 20 different countries, the flags of which decorated the hangar from day one and provided an inspiring sight of togetherness from the very first training jumps.
The first practice jumps separated the group into base and outer formation segments, so the jumpers could run through the specific movements they would have to perform during the record attempt and begin building muscle memory. The group slowly combined into bigger training groups, and, by the end of day two, successfully achieved a practice jump that nailed the first two points!
The momentum and focus behind the group were fueled by the coaching staff through every dirt-dive and jam-up, creating an environment that could bring together the group of diverse backgrounds. They had us roaring with bouts of laughter, but at the same time demanded the utmost amount of detail into each part of the skydive. You could have heard a pin drop during the concentration of nearly every walk-through. This was then quickly drowned out by a loud roar from as the guys yelled chants such as “There’s no speed like… Airspeed!” or “There’s no crazy German like… Dieter Kirsch!”; of course followed (as anyone who has been to an Airspeed event recently would know) by a clap and a thrust!
As everyone donned their oxygen, ready to take it to 18,000 ft AGL and start the actual record attempts, the energy became like a spring being wound up. The weather provided the group with optimal opportunities, with light winds, sun and nearly cloudless skies most every day. As the attempts started, the group worked hard, getting closer with each jump to their ultimate three-point formation. The base provided a reliable and consistent exit and fall rate, giving the group a great target to home in on. With each attempt the group grew closer, achieving a first point build of the 100+ way as quick as 43 seconds in the later attempts!
On the last day of the event, with only three attempts left to go, the coaches gave the team an inspiring speech. They reminded the team that sometimes when you are trying so hard to achieve a feat, your nerves and energy can work against you. Their message to the team as we entered that last day was simple, “Go out there, have fun and just skydive!”
The second skydive of that last day, which was the team’s second-to-last attempt, you could feel the energy buzzing. Entering that skydive, I heard from more than one jumper and felt it myself: “this is the one”. As the superfloater left and the planes emptied, the points began to build in a quiet and confident flow.
Point one… complete…
Point two… complete…
Point three… complete?!
The team held onto the last point as tightly as they held their breath in the debrief to follow. As Dieter and Niklas stood before the group with the video on the screen paused over the third point, the judges came forward to give the group the final thumbs-up and the roar of celebration took over. We had done it: a 3-point 108-way TBS World Record! Hugs, tears, laughter, and cheers filled the hangar. For many of the team it was both their first successful 100-way, as well as their first World Record. The celebration to follow matched the energy of the jumps themselves, and the group with members from all over the world came together to rejoice in our achievement.
World Record jump video
By Willy Boeykens
For those who are interested in previous records of this type, and what qualifies… Assuming the record is successfully ratified by the FAI, this 108-way is the first three-point total break world record. Skydivers must show clean separation between every jumper at the same time, between each point. The previous TBS sequential world record was a 2-point 130-way, at Skydive Perris, October 2019.
A group built a 3-point 68-way at Soest, Germany this year, which counted as a TBS European Record, but not as a World Record, since a sequential record must be more than one quarter of the size of the existing single-point record.
There were also World Records of a 3-point sequential 217-way and a 2-point 219-way, both in 2017 – but without everyone letting go between each formation, different rules applied.
The total break format for records has definitely added to the challenge!