Extreme Sports – Get your kicks this summer..

Summer’s just around the corner, encouraging some to dust off the tennis racket or rummage round the cupboard for the cricket bat. But for some in Britain traditional outdoor pursuits are just not enough. So how do extreme sports devotees get their kicks?

Extreme sports are about exhilaration, skill and danger. They do not normally involve teams and there are very few rules. People who take part use their skills and experience to control the risks. That control is what makes them sports and not just dangerous behaviour.images

Here are just some of the extreme sports which are popular in Britain:

Kitesurfing: a growing band of enthusiasts have been discovering the thrilling combination of kite, board and waves. These kites can be up to 17 metres long. Catch a gust and you’re motoring – up, down and across the surf.

 British Ladies kitesurfing champion Jo Wilson says: “It’s always an adrenalin rush. It’s unpredictable. You could jump 5ft or 35ft. You never know if you’re going to go up in the air, and your heart is just going boom, boom, boom all the time.”

Coasteering: this is exploring the coastline without worrying about a coastal path or finding a rocky cliffy cove blocking your route. You climb, dive, swim and clamber from A to B. There are about 15 operators in the UK offering coasteering.

Sky diving: traditional parachuting just doesn’t sound risky enough, does it? So now skydiving is the name for jumping from a plane and listening to your heart pounding as youhurtle towards earth before you open your parachute at the last moment. Once you’ve got a few jumps under your parachute you can throw in some extra risks, for example try a ‘hook turn’. Dean Dunbar is a participant of extremedreams.com and his first sky dive was in 1998. Since then he’s been hooked on the buzz of the extreme, saying: “Every so often I have to go out and do something scary.”

Mountain biking: it’s been around so long that bikers are no longer satisfied with just going up and down a mountain. Nowadays thrill seeking mountain bikers want a big slope to go down very, very fast. “It’s pure mad, downhill,” according to Dean Dunbar. “People go to old ski resorts, take the chair lift to the top then bomb down – amazingly not killing themselves.”

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Vocabulary

Learn the lingo with our brief guide on the vocabulary used

 

get their kicks
get a strong feeling of excitement or pleasure

exhilaration
extreme excitement

kite
a paper- or cloth-covered frame flown in the air at the end of a long string using the power of the wind

motoring                                                                                                                 moving

surf
the foam formed by waves on the sea when they come in towards a shore

an adrenalin rush
a strong feeling of excitement mixed with fear

coastline
the shape of the land on the edge of the sea

cove
a small sheltered opening in the coastline, a bay

clamber
climb with difficulty, using both the feet and hands

pounding
beating heavily

hurtle
move very fast

throw in
add

‘hook turn’
a fast turn close to the ground used to land at high speed

hooked on the buzz of the extreme
addicted to the excitement of doing extreme sports

thrill seeking
looking for excitement

bomb down
go down with great speed

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What is Base Jumping?

BASE jumping, also sometimes written as B.A.S.E. jumping, is an activity where participants jump from fixed objects and use a parachute to break their fall. “BASE” is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: building, antennaspan, and Earth (cliff)

In the USA, BASE jumping is currently regarded by many as a fringe extreme sport or stunt.  As of 21 May 2014 the online “BASE Fatality List” records 230 deaths for BASE jumping since April 1981.

Jumper with Wingsuit                                                    Jumper with Wingsuit

History

The acronym “B.A.S.E.” (now more commonly “BASE”) was coined by filmmaker Carl Boenish, his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield. Carl Boenish was the catalyst behind modern BASE jumping, and in 1978, he filmed the first BASE jumps to be made using ram-air parachutes and the freefall tracking technique (from El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park).  While BASE jumps had been made prior to that time, the El Capitan activity was the effective birth of what is now called BASE jumping.

BASE numbers are awarded to those who have made at least one jump from each of the four categories (buildings, antennas, spans and earth). When Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield jumped together from a Houston skyscraper on 18 January 1981, they became the first to attain the exclusive BASE numbers (BASE #1 and #2, respectively), having already jumped from an antenna, spans, and earthen objects. Jean and Carl Boenish qualified for BASE numbers 3 and 4 soon after. A separate “award” was soon enacted for Night BASE jumping when Mayfield completed each category at night, becoming Night BASE #1, with Smith qualifying a few weeks later.

During the early eighties, nearly all BASE jumps were made using standard skydiving equipment, including two parachutes (main and reserve), and deployment components. Later on, specialized equipment and techniques were developed specifically for the unique needs of BASE jumping.


Upon completing a jump from all of the four object categories, a jumper may choose to apply for a “BASE number”, which are awarded sequentially. BASE #1 was awarded to Phil Smith of Houston, Texas in 1981. The 1000th application for a BASE number was filed in March 2005 and BASE #1000 was awarded to Matt Moilanen of Kalamazoo, Michigan. As of February 2014, over 1,700 BASE numbers have been issued.

BASE jumping is often featured in action movies. The 2002 Vin Diesel film xXx includes a scene where Diesel’s character catapults himself off the Forest hill Bridge in an open-topped car, landing safely as the car crashes on the ground. In the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, includes the scene in which the main characters jump with wing suits from the IFC Tower in Hong Kong and fly over the Bank of China, finally opening their parachutes to land on a moving freighter. The stunt was done live, with no special effects, by base jumpers Martin Rosén and Per Eriksson, members of the Swedish “Team Bautasten”. The scene was filmed by air-to-air camera man Mikael Nordqvist from the same team. BASE jumping from antenna towerSince the 1976 Mount Asgard jump featured in the pre-credits sequence to The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond movies have featured several BASE jumps, including one from the Eiffel Tower in 1985’s A View to a Kill, the Rock of Gibraltar in 1987’s The Living Daylights, and in Die Another Day, 2002, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond jumps from a melting iceberg. Of the James Bond jumps only the Mt Asgard and Eiffel Tower jumps were filmed live; the rest were special effects. And in 2005’s “Batman Begins”, Bruce Wayne uses BASE jumping as inspiration for his memory cloth cape. A series of BASE jumps are featured in the video for a remix of M83’s “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun”

Guinness World Records first listed a BASE jumping record with Carl Boenish’s 1984 leap from Trollveggen (Troll Wall) in Norway. It was described as the highest BASE jump.  (The jump was made two days before Boenish’s death at the same site.) This record category is still in the Guinness book and is currently held by Australians Glenn Singleman and Heather Swan with a jump from Meru Peak in northern India at a starting elevation of 6,604 metres (21,667 ft).  On July 8, 2006 Captain Daniel G. Schilling set the Guinness World Record for the most BASE jumps in a twenty-four hour period. Schilling jumped off the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho a record 201 times.

BASE competitions have been held since the early 1980s, with accurate landings or free fall aerobatics used as the judging criteria. Recent years have seen a formal competition held at the 452 metres (1,483 ft) high Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, judged on landing accuracy. Continue reading

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