Words by Luc Maisin / Photos by Margriet Ham-Vermeer
For the first time Skydive Flanders hosted the final event of the ISSA World Series 2019 at their drop zone in Zwartberg, Belgium. The event took place on Saturday June 22th and Sunday 23th. The club opened exceptionally on the 21st to welcome the competitors and gave them the opportunity to do some practice jumps. The weather forecast was good and it was quickly decided to do 6 rounds on Saturday so we could finish the meet with two more rounds on Sunday morning.
Right from the start Marco Hepp demonstrated his skills with a 495.26 km/h average to top his own personal best and confirming his well deserved first place on the eternal ranking. His goal for this competition was to be the first to hit the 500 barrier with the new GPS measuring rules and that looked promissing. Max Hurd also started strong with a personal best and national record of 483.92, followed by Luc Maisin 482.79 (with his new parapack Javelin Odyssey from Sunpath). Then came Henrik Raimer with 476.59 and Moritz Friess with a very good score of 472.74, considering he jumped with a new suit witch he never used before and adjusted the day before. The pace was set. This was going to be a nice battle.
Along the competition a lot of personal records were set and very close battles between different levels made this meeting really interesting and fun. After 6 rounds only 1.6 km/h between place 3 and 4, only 0.01 km/h difference between 4 and 5 and 0.62 km/h between place 7 and 8. Interesting, exciting and most of all FUN.
And then came the last rounds. What a blast! It ain't over until it's over. After analysing his graphics on Saturday night, Moritz Friess decided to change his angle slightly and then he did it again. On his last jump he managed to do an incredible and impressive 506.31 average and with that jump climbed up to the silver medal position, leaving Luc Maisin behind him for just 0,18 km/h over 8 rounds for the bronze. Max Hurt won the battle against Henrik Raimer for place 4 and 5 with only 0.91 average between them. But the undisputed winner is the very consistent and sympathetic Marco Hepp. He went home with the well deserved gold medal with 486.59 average over 8 rounds. Always willing to share his experience with the others, he deserves the upmost respect!
Marcia Ferri confirmed that she is the fastest woman on earth and Lucy Lippold made impressive improvements and has now a personal best of 406.83. Another big surprise of the competition was the amazing result of Koen Michiels who did his first speed skydives on the practice day. His personal best is now 456.92 and his competition average is 440.3 km/h, putting him in the 10 th position in the competition and 20 th in the world wide eternal ranking, leaving a lot of experienced speedskydivers behind him. If he adapts his equipment, he can easily progress a lot more.
Skydive Flanders was a perfect host for this event for providing a nice dz, plane, medals, friendly pilots and staff, as well as good sandwiches at lunchtime and an excellent BBQ on Saturday evening. Thank you to Grim Swinnen for putting this all together and thank you to Bert Ham for doing an excellent job as judge (with the help of his wonderful wife Margriet). Without them, we would have been nothing.