The fantastic head to head wingsuit race

By 22/10/2014Insight
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Photo: My GoPro back cam capturing Rex Pempertons slightly later exit in the quarter finals. The start is important and we kept the same speed the rest of the heat.

The grand finale of a BASE jumping season is over. Its about to become a tradition finish up a long summer, in China, finding the fastest of us. In front of cameras, live streamed, knowing huge prize money is at stake, full of competition nerves, we give everything we have with the cutting edge of wingsuit design. 

Paul Fortun was the visionary man who believed the least organized sport of them all, BASE jumping, could be tamed into rules and a framework for competition. He believed in a future where wingsuit flyers were professional, and the genre of competing would lift us up in the same league as more known risk sports, such as skiing and surfing. Many of us disagreed, me included. I argued against it, saying the progression of our sport lied in the individual creativity lead by proximity flying, dynamic flying, acrobatic flying. Me, and many more, felt that a framework would just limit us, and that flying straightforward head to head, would feel less exiting.

WBR Finale 2008

Photo: Shane McConkey has left the platform early, but Ronny Risvik was able to catch up and became the first ever winner of a head to head race. Word Base Race 2008, Gridsetskolten, Norway.

That very first year, in 2008, Ronny Risvik from Stavanger won the finals against Shane McConkey. World Base Race in Innfjorden, Norway, became a game changer. News houses around the world showed spectacular images of wingsuit pilots giving everything they had. For the first time the worlds fastest human being was announced. It truly went viral. But more importantly was the feedback from competitors. They were exited, positively surprised and welcomed Pauls concept.

Suddenly, we all agreed a competition in wingsuit flying off a mountain was a sustainable concept, but at the same time we dreamed of a more extreme version. Proximity flying had recently become the coolest thing to do in BASE jumping, and we were waiting for the right time to see that sort of flying put into a competition. The rest is a surprising history. A young kid named Jokke Sommer was packing his canopy while World Base Race went on in 2008. A year later he started his series Dream Lines. It was followed by numerous of spectacular viral proximity flying videos, and then finally the first real terrain flying competition in Tianmen Mountains, China, in 2012. World Wingsuit League came as a bomb into our community, and suddenly we were in the spotlight for real.

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Photo: The 2014 World Wingsuit League Finals are being presented at the press centre below Tianmen Mountains, China.

So what happened? This year we saw again a straight race, at the very World Wingsuit League! Head to head. And not only did the reports say ratings were good on life TV. The pilots themselves said they went through an exiting competition. Iiro Seppanen, Frank Yang and Jeb Corliss have created something great for us all in China. And Paul Fortun was right back in 2008, a visionary as he was. It has coasted him a lot, and also for volunteers of World Base Race and later organizers. But I have a feeling right now. It feels like Paul ultimate idea of professional competing wingsuit pilots is about to happen.

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Photo: Julian Boule, the worlds best wingsuit pilot the last couple of years, is trying to explain why he keeps on winning. Will he go for his 3rd victory next year?

As one of the fortunate competing pilots, I want to say thank you to those who organize our competitions. In a community where willingness to risk sells, your concepts are all about skills. You don’t win by being bold, but simply by being good at flying. And that fashion is not likely to go out on date.

See you next year!

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  • Jhonathan says:

    Julian won’t go for another victory is Jhonathan Florez can prevent it!!!
    Well, Jhonathan couldn’t prevent it, he needs to work on his exits.

    JF

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