December 9, 2015
After two days of waiting for the winds to drop, the accuracy skydivers were able to start their heats at the FAI World Air Games this morning (September 9).
The competition requires a wind speed of less than 7m/s or 25.2km/hour. The traditionally strong five-man teams from Slovenia, Belarus, and Russia were in predictable form, jointly leading the competition after the first two rounds.
The Czech Republic team were also landing well, just one point behind the leaders. As the women's teams started their second run, the winds dropped and the morning land breeze started to turn.
"The air is really moving," said Deborah Ferrand, the first of the French team to land, with her heel just 1cm from the 2cm target. "It's very challenging here because we can't see the conditions on the landing target until we're over it."
The later team members use those landing ahead to gauge conditions, but the other members of the French team were disappointed with their round, which left them with a cumulative double-digit score. The team score is made up from the best four results from the five landings.
Jumping from 1000m, competitors line up downwind of the target and try to keep over it as they descend the last few metres, with the overall aim of directing the 250 square foot parachutes smoothly onto the target.
Skydivers are competing for individual as well as team medals. And it's the scores from the eight jumps in the team competition that decide the top 25% of the athletes, who go on to compete in the semi-finals for the individual prizes.
The male and female French teams are supported by the French Army, so their skydivers are all full-time professionals. Frenchman Sebastien Carbillet said: "There's less wind higher up, and it's not consistent as you come down."
He adapted well to the conditions, landing exactly on the bullseye and scoring zero - the best possible score.
The Belarusians also put in a textbook performance this morning, scoring a perfect zero, with four of the team setting off the bullseye buzzer and receiving a cheer from the 100-strong crowd enjoying the competition at the Beach Dropzone.
The competition will continue over the next two days, with more than 50 jumpers landing each hour.
By Andy Pag
Photos: Marcus King / FAI Media Team
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