From the archives, this recount by Corne Vorster, written just after CF Nationals 2010, reminds us of the array of emotions our sport brings us all, hopefully throughout our skydiving careers. Worth a summertime share.
This weekend gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “No **, there I was, thought I was gonna die.” I arrived at the Rustenburg drop zone on the Friday night and was told by Andre le Roux that in order to attend an official Nationals I can’t just do the 2-way junior development event; I have to be in a 4-Way Rotations team too. So I - being a CRW "expert" with a sum total of one introductory CRW jump - thought, “What could possibly go wrong?”
The next morning, after the briefings and packing lessons, we divided into our 2-way teams. I got paired with Nico Cilliers for the 2-way junior team. He gave me a briefing on what needs to be done and off we went. Once we were in the aircraft it became more real and I had my first “What the hell am I doing?” moment of the weekend. When you first start skydiving your instructors tell you to stay far away from other canopies, but now the basic brief is “You see that parachute? Now fly into it!”.
The first jump went as well as it could have, even though I was the only one getting docked and didn’t come close to docking Nico. On the third jump I got a really positive dock from Nico that made me realize that parachutes can be very robust in the air. I also had the sudden realization that I am having fun and this isn’t as scary as I initially thought it would be.
The fourth jump of the day, I was told, was to be my first 4-Way Rotation. This is about the same time that I got nervous again. The team consisted of Nico, Sharky, Jim Stewart, myself and Gavin Chapman on camera. In the aircraft I was on about my fifth “What the hell” moment when it was time to exit. Jim had a bit of a slow pull and ended up being too low. Meanwhile Sharky and Nico had built the 2 stack, and after a couple of attempts I was able to dock it. Knowing that Jim was low, I wasn’t expecting to see another canopy behind me, when suddenly I heard someone scream, "Take me!"
Before I could wonder who had said it, I had Gavin’s canopy in my hands. After he docked, Sharky started spiralling the stack. Now THAT was fun. As we dropped off and landed I was shaking from the adrenaline and finally understood why people do CRW. It wasn’t just scary, it is a hell of a lot of fun. That night I had to buy a lot of beers for the many firsts I did. I didn’t care, it was worth it.
On Sunday morning we continued with the 4-Way Rotations with Gerrit Lambert replacing Nico. After changing the exit and dirt diving we were ready to go. From the exit, everything just went right. We built our 4-stack with me as base and Sharky, Gerrit and Jim docking in that order. When I heard “GO!” I almost froze up. "Here goes nothing", I was about to do my first rotation. I popped off the top, little brake, little left, HARD right and jumped onto my front risers. I overshot a bit, tried again and docked Jim. We did 6 rotations before we ran out of altitude. When we landed chills ran down my spine and I was the happiest man with a canopy.
At the end of the weekend I had done three rounds of 2-Way Junior and 3 rounds of 4-Way Rotations. I had an awesome experience and did things with canopies that give me a whole new respect for parachutes and the “CReW Dogs” that fly them. I now feel like I have graduated as a CReW puppy and have the line burn on my shoes to prove it. Thanks to all the “Dogs” that had the patience to provide us with such an opportunity to learn and for helping us juniors. Thanks to Rustenburg Skydiving Club for hosting the weekend and for the cold beer and quick aircraft.