B.A.S.E. Jumping in the land of Vikings and beautiful women
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia with a population of roughly 450,000 people is located at the Baltic Sea, about 80 kilometers south from Helsinki. I have to admit, that I have never been less prepared for a country that I was travelling to. At the time the airplane touched down I still had no idea what kind of currency, language, culture or weather conditions would be waiting for me.
Well, the strong winds blowing in from the coastline could already be felt when I arrived. All remaining questions were answered very quickly as well: currency – Euro, language – Estonian, culture – a modern and open Viking style. That was easy… so let’s start. The 30 minute cab drive from the airport to the hotel inside the city was only 6 Euros – it turned out the country wasn’t only really likeable but cheap as well! Almost all jumpers were booked into the same hotel so the first point on the agenda was a nice meet & greet with old friends and many new faces. Afterwards we went into the city to take a closer look at its many bars and restaurants.
Jüri, the organizer of the event, picked us up at the hotel the next morning and we drove along the coastline for about 30 minutes before we reached the TV tower a few miles outside of the city. It was love at first sight, when I spotted the 314 meter and 20,000 ton colossus. The architects had managed to literally build the perfect building for B.A.S.E. jumpers with plenty of height as well as an overhang. Whether the two of them had anything like that in mind when the construction started in 1975, I’m not quite sure. Back then it was built with the Olympic Summer Games in Moscow in mind.
After having dealt with the obligatory registration procedures, waivers and alike we were greeted by the Estonian B.A.S.E. jumpers and organizers Jüri, Aivar and Aleksander. Afterwards I had the honor as Safety Instructor to brief the 50 jumpers from across the world on the general rules of the event. However, since the skill level of the attending jumpers was quite high this could be dealt with rather quickly. Instead we took the lift to the observation deck, located at 170 meters height. We checked our gear one last time before the staff opened the doors to the outer ring where we could walk straight to the exit point. The winds were quite strong at this altitude. However, it was blowing from a decent direction and was also still just below the limit.
Wouter Wellen of the Tulip B.A.S.E. crew didn’t ask twice and opened the 2014 Boogie with a long, stretched-out backflip. Because of the height of the building, we could enjoy up to four seconds of freefall. This created the ideal playground for all sorts of exit variations and aerials. The first day of jumping ended without any special events. Apart from packing our canopies and taking the lift back up to the platform we didn’t have to worry about anything else.
At the end of the day I had done seven jumps in the best conditions from this beautiful, self-supporting antenna. Along with my videographer Leonid Plotiknov from Belarus I was working on footage for the current collections of my two sponsors Affliction Clothing and Zehenschuhe.de
Day 2 was exactly how the weather forecast had predicted: the storm warning was definitely not an exaggeration! It became clear pretty quickly that there would be no jumping on this day. Instead we went back into Tallinn around noon to get to know the city and its surrounding a bit more.
For the third and last day of the event the weather forecast had predicted only a very small window where it would be possible for us to jump. The winds were supposed to pick up with each hour and become as strong as the day before. We tried our best to use the three hours as best as possible but could only do a couple of jumps before the wind limit was reached. At this point the trees around the landing area were already being bent back and forth by the winds, which completely erased the possibility of a safe jump. After we had spent some time waiting for better conditions it became clear that the weather would not improve any time soon. Instead we decided to bring the Tallinn TV Tower B.A.S.E. Boogie 2014 to an end. Despite the conditions during the three days we were still able to make a total of 350 jumps from the TV tower without any accidents. The fun competition for landing accuracy was won by Dmitry Rukhlenko, Andrey Nefedov (both from Russia) and Johnny Utah (USA).
Since it almost never gets dark in Tallinn during this time of year we decided not to spend the last night in the hotel. Instead we spent another night in town and took a taxi straight to the airport the next morning. Sadly, the conditions had suited the wind surfers much better than us this year. However, the trip to Tallinn was definitely well worth it even without the B.A.S.E. context. The rumors that women make up a large part of the Estonian population and that literally all of them are stunningly beautiful are very much true. But find out for yourself!
A big thank you to all the organizers for the invitation and the amazing time in Estonia. I’m very much looking forward to the next time!