The team consisting of Sarah Smith 30 (Whatton, Nottingham), Hannah Betts 29 (Cardiff), Kate Stephens 32 (Huntingdon), Claire Scott 34 (Marsh Gibbon, Bicester) and cameraman Gary Wainwright Wainwright 35 (Nottingham) managed to beat off fierce competition from 10 other teams including the reigning World and British Champions, and clinched the gold with a massive 16 point victory!
The team knew that to secure victory and therefore a place to represent GB at next years World Championships they would have to put in a lot of hard work, and so in May this year they gave up their jobs in order to train full time. They made just under 700 skydives, training both in California and at Skydive Langar near Nottingham as well as making use of the Bodyflight Wind Tunnel near Bedford.
Team training can prove to be very expensive however the team were very lucky to secure some sponsorship with an insurance company in order to make this dream happen. In return for this support, the team will be working with a number of women’s and children’s charities in association with the sponsor. The team will be embarking on a number of projects that will keep them busy in-between their training camps.
The World Championships will be held in France in August 2008, and the team hope to make around 1000 training jumps between now and the competition. They will continue to train in Perris Valley, California under the watchful eye of their American coach Dan Brodsky Chenfeld (multiple World Champion), as well as at the Bodyflight Wind Tunnel in Bedford.
left to right: Hannah Betts, Claire Scott, Gary Wainwright, Sarah Smith, Kate Stephens
photos Gary Wainwright
Hannah – "It's great to be able to compete alongside the men as well as the women, and even greater to beat them, we really hope it encourages more women to go and have a go at what is seen as a 'male dominated, dare devil sport!'"
Sarah – “On paper it looked like a long shot, but our team was committed to training hard and giving everything we had to performing our best. I am now looking forward to representing the UK next year!”
Kate – “I am really excited we have won, but now we have our sights firmly set on the world championships in August next year so the work has already begun to keep us very much focused on our ultimate goal”
Sparky – “The result hasn’t really sunk in yet. Not the fact that we won, but the fact we obliterated the competition by such a massive margin!!”
Who is Bodyflight Storm? www.stormskydivingteam.co.uk
Bodyflight Storm was formed early in 2007 with the aim of competing at the British National Skydiving Championships which takes place in July / August each year. The team’s aim was to compete in the Open category of 4-way formation skydiving, with the goal of qualifying to represent the UK at the 2008 World Championships. Despite the team only just being formed, they were already considered as a talented high profile team with numerous World and National titles between them.
The team members have also been working to raise money and awareness of various charities, including the British Red Cross and Orphancare Malawi. Next month the team are setting up their own charity in partnership with the team's main sponsor, an insurance company, to use sport as a tool to empower women and children in the UK and Spain.
What is competition skydiving?
4-way formation skydiving is one of the most popular forms of competition disciplines within the skydiving world. It is about speed, accuracy, determination and strength, with the single goal of building as many formations as possible. The discipline is practised in freefall at speeds reaching 120mph, and consists of four people performing a series of several formations repeatedly within 35 seconds. The fifth team member, the camera person, films the jump and the footage is then watched by the judges to score the team's performance. It's not about looking pretty in the air or looking good when you land; in the same way as a football team wins a match by scoring the most goals, a 4-way team will win a competition by correctly completing more formations and thus scoring more points than the other teams.
Bodyflight Storm are unique in the fact that they are a women’s team in a male dominated sport. Yet despite being an all female team (except for the cameraman Gary Wainwright), they still managed to beat a number of all male line ups.
Despite being “girls” you have to commend them for their physical toughness and the phrase “no, pain no gain” often springs to mind. Making 16 jumps a day in heats of 100+ degrees whilst carrying injuries ranging from a dislocated thumb (only realised after 200 jumps!), sprained ankle, chipped ankle bone, concussion, torn shoulder ligaments, torn knee ligaments and broken ribs is not for the faint hearted!
An element of strength is definitely needed to do this sport, both for hanging onto the side of an airplane as well as for moving each other around the sky! The team follow an intensive body conditioning and weight training programme to help equip them for the pressures of 3 week gruelling training camps where they can make 150 – 200 training jumps.
Also to watch the girls fly, they appear to combine their aggression with technical accuracy better than their male counterparts who prefer to just use the force! This coupled with their sheer determination as well as their trust and respect for one another gives them the winning combination and the edge over other teams.
Claire Scott – 07812 060 215 firstname.lastname@example.org
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images