128-way Sparkling Jewel, by Andrey Veselov
128-way Sparkling Jewel, by Andrey Veselov

The JEWEL in the CROWN

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Exit over Skydive Perris, by Gary Wainwright

The JEWEL in the CROWN

World First Double Goals

Sequential Games has always kept the bar high at their events but this one topped them all. We had not one but TWO ambitious goals:-

  • set a new World Record Sequential with a total break
  • build a 128-way sparkling jewel, a sort of unofficial world record as this would be the largest jewel ever.
Sequential Games team at Skydive Perris

The Team

128 skydivers met at Skydive Perris, 13-16 October 2019, ready for the dual challenge. Our organizers were Patrick Passe, Milko and Dieter Kirsch of Sequential Games, together with Dan BC and Doug Forth, of P3 Skydiving. 30 countries were represented, with an average jump number of 5,098 and 22 years in the sport. 666,000 jumps between us – a highly experienced load that also embraced up-and-coming talent and world record virgins. The average age was 48, ranging from the youngest at 26 (Matt, Superfloater) and 75 (Claudio). Cameraflyers were Andrey Veselov, Gary Wainwright and Terry Weatherford.

Exit from 4 Skyvans and 2 Twin Otters, by Andrey Veselov

Total Break World Record

This event was to be the second sequential World Record attempt run under the new rules of a total break between formations. (The first was the recent Danish night sequential, which set a National and World Record.) Previously one could claim a Sequential record with only 25% of personnel moving between points. Now everyone had to leave go of the first formation and take different grips in the second. There is no requirement to show a complete break with 128 separate skydivers, because everyone taking a new grip means they must release between points. Most of us felt these total break world record rules were an improvement – more challenging for the whole team, in the spirit of sequential and easy to explain to the general public. (Nothing has been removed, you can choose whether to run your sequential record under the ‘old’ rules or the new ‘Total Break’ category.)

Training set-ups with Milko – Image by Gary Wainwright


The first day we jumped in three 40-ish-way groups, building segments of the formation, culminating in a 64-way. The focus was on close setups, smooth builds and tight tracking teams. The jumps were excellent, so we felt well prepared for Monday morning’s big-way… now a 130-way. We were already going to 15,000 feet, the bigger jumps would see us going to 17,000 feet, all with oxygen. The fleet of aircraft consisted of four Skyvans and two Twin Otters, flown in tight formation by the expert Perris pilots.

No contact build of sectors around complete 60-way base, by Gary Wainwright


Success couldn’t possibly have happened faster!  On the first jump the goal was to build a base 64-way, with everyone else flying no-contact in their exact formation position – job done! The second jump we were all to take grips – job done, a complete, flat, lovely-flying 130-way formation.

First point, World Record Sequential – by Gary Wainwright


The third jump was the first time we tried the sequential move, everyone breaking grips when Patrick released the streamer (see photo above), and moving to the second formation (below).

Second point, World Record Sequential – by Gary Wainwright

Nailed it!

We nailed it first time around! Judges Marylou Laughlin and Gill Rayner pronounced the skydive ‘a clean, clear and very easy to judge 2-point World Record!’ We were only 2 days into a 6-day event and had already smashed one of the goals.

Judges Marylou Laughlin & Gill Rayner declare the record official – Image by Andrey Veselov

Secrets of Success

It’s almost unheard-of to set a World Record on the first attempt. This achievement is not because the Total Break record was easy, far from it. It is due to the careful selection of talent, the thorough manual sent out beforehand, slick organization by the coaches and Skydive Perris – and, most importantly, everyone having the right attitude. Dieter and Patrick set out the Rules of Engagement at the beginning; come to each dirtdive/debrief with 100% concentration, which meant no mobile phones or food/drink. Dieter gravely warned us, “If you think it’s going to be easy, we will never get the record. If you start planning what to do after we get the record we will never achieve it.” So, every single person came with full focus making the dirtdives mercifully efficient and the skydives a joy.

The total break World Record Sequential, by Andrey Veselov

Polishing the Jewel

On Tuesday morning we made two training jumps for the second goal, the 128-way jewel. After four consecutive completed 64-way jewels we were feeling a little cocky and felt we could knock this baby out. Our first 128-way jewel attempt reminded us that this formation has challenged skydivers for years. With half of the formation facing out, it’s demanding to build and to fly. The largest jewel to date was a 100-way, built at the Arizona Challenge in 1994 and again in 2014. So we aimed to raise the bar by 28%, and the difficulty level by modifying the jewel to a non-square ‘Sparkling’ jewel, with less structure and more rows to complete.

Closer and closer

Wednesday and Thursday we made three more attempts each day. There were so many skydives when we thought we had made it, only to find on video that we had not. One jump we completed the jewel but there were two grips missing. On another one all grips were completed but one section tracked off before it was finished on the other side. The skydives seemed to get worse, with the formation rocking up and down like a wave pool. Those of us on the outside had a good view of this giant potato chip as we were not to dock on the base 60 until Doug gave the key.

Impressive funnel, image by Gary Wainwright

Funnel City, California

The penultimate jump, we had a funnel like a tsunami! It looked as though someone threw a hand grenade into the formation, with a funnel starting in the center and spreading out through consecutive rows like a bomb-blast. These shenanigans left us on Thursday afternoon with the ‘Last Jump Syndrome’, that so often results in success. However the elusive jewel slipped from our grasp, refusing to shine in its setting. We were all out of luck and out of jumps…

…but not quite out of time. With one day of the event left, we were told to come back in the morning with 100 dollars, enough for up to two final attempts at 50 bucks each. Surely this time…

Patrick Passe – “You know what to do” – Image by Gary Wainwright


First jumps of the day are good times for record-setting. Everyone’s fresh and the dawning of a new day draws the line over past events. Patrick’s motivational speech…

“I have just one question for you, do you want your 50 dollars back?!”


“Well, you know what to do.”

128-way Sparkling Jewel, by Gary Wainwright

Oooh, Shiny!

Brilliant. We felt good going into the jump. It started to build, smoothly yet gaining in size much faster than on previous skydives. I took my grips and kept flying level with the center. I could see the formation growing as individual bodies joined the collective. It was flat, flying nicely, no tension… surely it must be done… the heads in the center started nodding and smiling, so did everyone else in the formation. We had that wonderful but rare moment on a big-way where everyone knew it was complete, we were smiling and screaming with happiness. Tracking off we were clapping, waving and geeking at each other, then embracing on the ground as we knew we had finally done it. The Jewel in the Crown. Turned out we held it for 8 seconds of joy. We came, we saw, we sparkled.

Hall of Fame

This project was one of many amazing happenings of the week at Skydive Perris, together with new Canopy Formation World Records, a 10-way Speed Star comp, and Hall of Fame celebrations including seminars, skydiving demos and a banquet to honor the new inductees into the Hall of Fame. What better way to celebrate than by setting another piece of history together?

Total break in the Sequential World Record – Image by Andrey Veselov

And Finally

As we packed to go home, I ruminated how the amount of joy you feel with an accomplishment is directly related to how much pain you went through to achieve it. The Total Break World Record was almost too easy. Although we were delighted with the result, for me it wasn’t the same euphoric feeling as building the jewel, which is ‘only’ a world first, not an official FAI record. The ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling of coming back from the jump hugging each other, thinking we had done it only to have our hopes dashed yet again. Doing the same jump so often you start to hate it. These dark times made the light so much brighter when the sparkling jewel was finally glittering in its perfect setting.

128-way Jewel video, by Andrey Veselov

I have a feeling the 128-way jewel will stay in the history books for much longer than our World Sequential Record – the first daytime WR under the Total Break rules, 2-point 130-way. We set the bar, please come up and challenge it. 

Thank you Sequential Games, Skydive Perris and ‘Full Concentration’ – the perfect combination.

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Meet: Lesley Gale

Lesley has been in love with skydiving for 35 years. She is a multiple world and national record holder and a coach on 20 successful record events worldwide. She has over 100 competition medals spanning more than 25 years and has been on the British 8-way National team at World events. She started Skydive Mag to spread knowledge, information and passion about our amazing sport.
Lesley is delighted to be sponsored by Performance Designs, Sun Path, Cypres, Cookie, Symbiosis suits and Larsen & Brusgaard

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