by Patrick O’Connor
By Patrick O’Connor
There were a few of us, this July morning to jump the local ‘E’. I had been doing quite a few solos and having some company was welcome. In the group, a 300+ jump BASE jumper, a 150 jump, a 70 jump and myself at that stage on 37 jumps. It seemed a little breezy on the walk up and I was a little worried.
Now we get to the top at the exit and I realize that the 300 jump guy is on the other side of the small amphitheatre. I ask the two others why he is not jumping. “Bah, he’s weird when it comes to slider down…”
We chuck some sticks off and conditions seem fine at the exit although getting very breezy around the corner.
150 jump: “You wanna go?” me: “Bah, I don’t mind.” …hesitation… me: “Ok, I’ll go.”
3 second delay …wham… on heading
I am flying now but it’s starting to wobble a little. This is were I regret jumping but it’s too late! Suddenly the whole left side of the canopy collapses. By reflex I pull as hard as I can on the right toggle and it seemed to work a little but still, my canopy is all over the show. I decide to go for the sea hoping to only break my legs. That worked too; although still very windy, I seemed to be far enough from the saddle causing the turbulence. At this stage I then decided to try and make the rocks to land dry and just managed that. I had one of the softest landings ever thanks to the strong head wind.
With juice still flowing full bore in my veins, I jumped out of my harness, shouted and waved to the others not to jump as if they hadn’t witnessed what had just happened. I felt very lucky to not have a scratch after that session. The 300+ jumper gave me a piece of his mind on reaching the bottom, didn’t speak to me for a while after and I felt very very lucky he just did that and didn’t punch me. There’s no describing how stupid I felt.
I went back a few days later and did a solo. I had to go back and I had to do a solo.