Extreme B.A.S.E. World Championship Benidorm 2014
We find ourselves at the Spanish Costa Brava in Benidorm, located 45 kilometers northeast from Alicante, for the „Extreme B.A.S.E World Championship Benidorm 2014.“ The event was organized and hosted by PIXION, a Spanish media agency as well as a multitude of other sponsors. 50 years ago Benidorm was a small village of fishermen which in a matter of just a few decades turned into a city which holds the world record for the most skyscrapers per capita – Very much to the delight of the invited B.A.S.E. jumpers.
Standing on the exit ramp on top of the Grand Hotel Bali at 186 meters above the ground my initial thought was: “Well I have definitely seen easier landing areas than this one.” With 5 meters across the target circle wasn’t exactly small, however, the way towards it would definitely be a challenging one. Other landing opportunities were not in sight. Instead we had to deal with quite turbulent wind conditions, two pools, tourist crowds, tables, chairs, stages, slacklines, speakers, palm trees and plenty of other items, which have a strange tendency to magically attract parachutes. “Break a leg” – I thought, 3…2…1…base and off I went. After two seconds of freefall I opened my parachute and was looking straight into the eyes of a startled tourist who had been minding her own business, hanging up laundry on her balcony. Once again my parachute had opened 180° into the wrong direction. A brilliant start to the event!
26 participants from 12 countries had travelled to Benidorm to take part in the World Cup. The competition was judged in the classic fashion. We were judged on freefall time, opening angle of the parachute as well as the accuracy of our landing on the target circle. After a short, Spanish briefing (even the competition rules were given to us in Spanish only) on the day before, we stood on top of the roof of the Grand Hotel Bali at 7am the very next morning. Pretty damn early! Given the good wind conditions during the mornings, however, this was a good decision in my opinion because with each hour the winds picked up noticeably.
Both of my jumps during the first two rounds went very well for me and I scored almost the maximum in points on both. Only the canopy opening caused me a large penalty on both jumps since my canopy opened towards the hotel on both occasions – which happened to be 180° into the wrong direction. Still, on each occasion I still had plenty of time to resolve the situation, fly my setup for my landing approach and safely land on the target. During the second round it became obvious that this could not be taken for granted. Spanish jumper Patrick Guisasola flew his parachute into the side of the hotel and luckily landed on the porch of the hotel unharmed. Two jumpers later it was the American Brian Shannon who misjudged his landing approach and managed to take out a large chunk of a concrete wall that used to belong to the hotel – by pure force of his behind! After winning the award for the most colorful ass I have ever seen in my live, he was taken to the hospital to aid his cuts and bruises.
Luckily these already were the highlights of the event, since all remaining jumps went by without any problems. We were therefore able to see a multitude of beautiful, yet exciting jumps during the remaining days of the event in front of this spectacular scenery.
After plenty of breaks and waiting for better wind conditions we were finally able to complete the final rounds of the event. Ivan Colex from Italy ended up on the very top of the podium, while Julian Deplidge and Daniel Witchalls (both from the U.K.) took 2nd and 3rd place respectively.