Turkey rocks, fuck normal life....
There was no way I was going to miss out on the Turkish hospitality and therefore I gladly accepted the invitation to the sparkling metropolis that is Istanbul. The city of 14 million residents was going to host this yearâ€™s Pro B.A.S.E. World Cup. Despite the images we had seen in the media there was nothing to be seen from the general unrest and rioting. However, one could definitely feel the tension in the air.
Only a few subway stops away from the Taksim Square, where the demonstrations had originated from, the Sapphire Building is located. At 261 meters it is Europes highest hotel. The observation deck is located at 236 meters height and was chosen as the exit point for the event. The deck offers a great view over Istanbul and the Bosporus Channel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
The event featured 55 jumpers, including five females, from 17 different countries. All of which came to the Sapphire Showdown to compete against each other or to simply have a good time and enjoy jumping with one another. For me it was definitely the latter. The event was dedicated to Victor Kovats who had died during a wingsuit jump in China the year before. The organizers Maria Steinmeyer and Hubert Schober along with the Turkish local Can explained to us the rules of the competition and the â€žDOs and DONâ€™Tsâ€ś for B.A.S.E. jumpers in Turkey. (Polli was around the year before :-) )
For the competition we were scored on our exit, freefall time and the precise heading of the canopy upon opening. However, the accuracy landing on a target circle offered the most points to be scored. A strong, inconsistent wind turned the first test jump already into a real challenge. It was clear that the competition would not be an easy one. After two more rounds of competition jumps to day came to an uneventful close.
The second day, though, was about to get a lot more exciting than the day before. Again, the conditions were far from perfect. On the contrary, the wind speed picked up even more and due to the heat and surrounding buildings lots of uncomfortable turbulences could be felt underneath the canopy. Just like the day before my canopy opened with a 180Â° turn, which meant that I was heading straight towards the building, yet again. Landing on the target was therefore out of the question for me. I donâ€™t know if it was me, the strong winds, or simply all the Red Bulls I drank but somehow I was not warming up to the jumps from the Sapphire building in these conditions. Just when the competition came to a close and we were starting to have some time for fun jumps the event was unexpectedly brought to a hold: a Turkish worker who was trying to put up a banner ad fell from a half-meter ladder and broke his arm. The falling ladder then injured two more passer-bys. After two hours break due to the accident we could resume jumping.
Just as the Boogie-Fever started to catch the first few jumpers who were doing multiple aerials and multiways from the building, the canopy of French athlete Momo Volant opened facing the building and got caught on an antenna. Momo was hanging at roughly 50 meters altitude for roughly an hour while the firemen were trying to work their way through the chaotic Istanbul traffic. Eventually a rescue mission was attempted by using a building crane usually used by the window cleaners. Finally after almost two hours time Momo was back on the ground without any injuries and just in time for dinner. More than 10 Turkish TV stations were broadcasting live from the rescue mission and at no point did we have more spectators at the event.
Despite all the incidents during the day (two jumpers also managed to land their canopies on top of the 30 meters high awning of the building) it was still a very special moment: Victorâ€™s parents flew in all the way from Hungary in order to be part of the award ceremony and to spend the following days with us. The first place victory of the PBWC 2014 in Istanbul went to Andrey Nefedov from Russia. Places 2 and 3 went to Marco Schultz from Holland and Randall Stamper from the USA respectively. We had planned to use the next days for some fun jumps, however, due to the bad weather conditions and the incidents of the previous day neither the organizers nor the owner of the building were willing to take any more risks and cancelled that plan.
Instead we used our free time for a visit of the Sultan-Ahmed-Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) as well as a bazaar and spice market. After all a little culture doesnâ€™t hurt either. We spent the last day on a go-cart track, which was great fun for everyone. The final party of the event was held in memory of Vic â€“ and to the delight of the Dutch jumpers with an orange theme. After watching a Film about Victorâ€™s life we did exactly what he would have done as well: Party hard! Cheers buddy!
A very big thank you goes out to Can (Organiser, good boy!!) Dimitrios (professional Adrenalin Photographer, www.dimitriosphotography.gr), Hubert and Maria (PBWC Organisers), Franz (Event Judge), Traceyâ€¦. And everybody else I may have forgotten!!