CRW, which is an abbreviation for canopy relative work, is beginning to make noise in terms of setting records. Canopy formation is growing increasingly popular. Last year, the 21st annual Freeze Your Buns Off Boogie was the place to be. The event took place in Lake Wales, Florida at Florida Skydiving Center and was monumental for the CRW industry, which has become particularly well-known in this area. Even though it seems intimidating, this event welcomes people of all levels each year; it does not matter whether you’ve been practicing canopy formation for years or it is a new interest. Many people get the hang of it fairly quickly due to plenty of practice, and because of the many qualified jumpers, there are other forms of determining who qualifies for different jumps. For starters, there could be two or more groups that win the world record, so long as the groups actually do set the same record. Last year, two groups won world records, while they started to aim for three world records this year. The event takes place from Thursday to Sunday. Though there’s a four-day length to this event, there are people who unofficially arrive earlier than that in order to prepare adequately.
Those who train in canopy formation are beginning to turn heads. On Thursday of this year, everyone who jumped was able to perform in a way that exceeded expectations; they were separated into teams of 4 and the skydives ranged in points from 10 to 14. Teamwork was being implemented the entire time because it was important for many of the jumpers to experience the thrill of successful canopy formation. Most of the jumps were successful, but the 16-way was not completed for various reasons, including the fact that one of the jumpers had to use his reserve after feeling that something was off with his canopy. Following the cancellation of the 16-way, the jumpers returned the next day and decided to split.
The jumpers with more experience created their own group, practicing all day for a jump that ended up being comprised of 27 people — in collaboration with Mike Lewis. Canopy sizes varied and the most exhilarating part was that they would perform this at night and as a single-point jump after having jumped 4 times that day. Of course, this took much energy on the part of the jumpers; it was no easy feat — after all, CRW is a ballpark all its own. One should note that the first 2 jumps were successful, but the one that followed was a jump designed to be taken as seriously as though they were about to perform the ultimate nighttime jump. This means that they had to prepare equipment.
In terms of preparation, it was crucial that all jumpers had working radios prior to jumping, but aside from that, nighttime equipment is different from daytime equipment. Nighttime jumpsuits had to be ready for them, along with lighting requirements that illuminated their canopy formation. What made this jump slightly more difficult was the fact that canopies ranged in size. This made it necessary for the formation to go as smoothly as they planned it (as some jumpers were carrying pyrotechnics and it was vital for these pyrotechnics to remain on the edges. Ultimately, the jumpers were aboard the aircraft — and upon takeoff, the bright lights coming from the jumpers reflected their excitement and the formation that was to follow.
Despite the excitement, there was a major blow that was to follow. The cameraman was not able to capture the grips from two different jumpers, which made the jump qualify for a Guinness World Record, but not for an FAI one. Much of the beauty was captured, but those on the ground were able to see the sight as a much more unbelievable one.
The jumpers with the pyrotechnics, which as mentioned had to be in a certain order, did as they were supposed to, lighting up the formation and making the wondrous sight even more beautiful. Once they received the news that they had not won the FAI record, however, they were even more determined to win it. They came back the following morning and hoped to complete a 3-point, 25-way in efforts to beat the previous year’s record.
Working to fix the error of their ways, the final morning was successful. It started off with the first point, which was to be completed by making sure that 35% of grips — at a minimum — were dropped while jumpers changed positions. There was an emphasis on showing the grips in order to avoid making the mistake that they made the previous night. Finally, while making it to the 3rd point, the lack of breeze assisted in the smooth transitioning. By the time that they were directed to starburst, many already knew that the 3rd point had been successful. This led to the ultimate FAI acknowledgement, but the proudest moment was realizing that they had accomplished what they set out to do.