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|Go Vertical 11 Review|
by Craig Poxon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Got back from Go Veryical 11 at Skydive Portugal in Proença-a-Nova this weekend. Had a good time despite only doing 10 jumps. Ironically, I did half as many jumps on Sunday at Nethers as I did during the whole week at Portugal.
Went with a bunch of freaks from Nethers. We arrived early to a gorgeous sunny day in Portugal on saturday, but after a wrong turn, spent a couple of extra hours experiencing some of Portugal's finest minor roads. Turned up at the dropzone with time left over from kit and documents checks and registration to jump but we elected not to. The winds had picked up, we'd experienced the hilly landscape during our drive there, we were greeted by people hobbling and limping around the dropzone and after watching a few landings we decided it wasn't for us.
For the next few days the weather got progressively worse. First it was cloudy. Next day is was cloudy and wet. Then it was cloudy and wet and windy. We didn't spend much time at the dropzone for these few days, because there was no chance of jumping so I don't know if many people came and went, put off by the weather, but I don't think the 100 limit on participants was reached.
When the weather finally broke it was gorgeous and I got six jumps in that day. On the sixth jump I started to feel a bit fuzzy headed. The DZ elevation is somewhere between 1000 and 1500 feet. The plane was going to between 16000 and 17000 feet AGL so that's up to 18500 MSL. Pretty cool for freeflying, but when they were doing a pass at 13000 for the flat flyers and then two passes at 16,000+, I was getting hypoxic.
I did everything I could to minimize the hypoxia, got myself out as early as possible (although most people wanted to be out on the first pass!), put my helmet and goggles on about 12,000, and didn't move or talk unless absolutely necessary but I was still being affected, so I only did 3 jumps the next day. On the thursday, the winds really picked up. I had my first good landing (the others being adequate with heavy run-outs in minimal wind) but turned around to see people rushing out to attend a girl who had been dumped by turbulence and suffered a broken pelvis. I decided to call it a day after that even before they raised the jump limit to 500.
Photo © 2001 Ian Nicholson Photo © 2001 Craig Poxon
I took my new Crossfire 149 with only ten jumps on with me, which, with hindsight, was probably not the best idea. What with the elevation and my previous 300 odd jumps on my trusty Sabre 190, I would probably have been better off taking that. Perhaps my experience and therefore impression of the dropzone would have been different as a result.
Although the off-landings are pretty minimal the landing opportunities run the length of the runway with lots of space. Two passes helps to reduce the chance of an off-landing. The surrounding hilly countryside and trees make for turbulent conditions when the winds pick up.
The dropzone itself is good. A lot of money is being spent on it be the local authorities (the new sign on the sign of the hangar would indicate that the ultimate source of the money is from the EC!) and the facilites are growing all the time. It's a bit of a dust-bowl at the moment but apparently there are plans to seed some landing areas.
The locals are very friendly. We were well looked after by the hotel in Serta despite typical skydiver behaviour. And the locals close to the DZ were bringing back lost helemts and freebags.
There isn't a great deal of entertainment locally. There is a nightclub in Serta which only opens one night a week (Saturday) but the food and drink is pretty cheap.
I intended to do a lot more jumps so what with the weather and the high altitude I didn't really get to do much in the way of organised loads or coaching. However, there were some pretty cool dives going on. We had Andy Godwin with us from Nethers who had 900 flat dives but has now been converted to the dark side and Gordon Mission who achieved his FF2.
Not trying to put a downer on the place but there are some issues that poeple should be aware of before going. I will carefully consider before I return. Still, I enjoyed myself with some cool people and nice skydives.
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