Daredevils drop onto beach

Blackpool Airgames featured base-jumpers flinging themselves from a 500 foot-high crane on the promenade and (hopefully!) hitting a target on the beach.
On the way down.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
27-8-2016
Blackpool Airgames featured base-jumpers flinging themselves from a 500 foot-high crane on the promenade and (hopefully!) hitting a target on the beach. On the way down. PIC BY ROB LOCK 27-8-2016

The idea of leaping from a 480ft crane – just 36ft short of Blackpool Tower – may not be everyone’s cup of team, but daredevils from all over the world came to Blackpool to do just that.

It was all part of the Blackpool AirgameZ, the UK’s only base-jumping festival, which attracted big crowds to 
South Promenade over the weekend.

Blackpool Airgames featured base-jumpers flinging themselves from a 500 foot-high crane on the promenade and (hopefully!) hitting a target on the beach.
Heading for touchdown.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
27-8-2016

Blackpool Airgames featured base-jumpers flinging themselves from a 500 foot-high crane on the promenade and (hopefully!) hitting a target on the beach. Heading for touchdown. PIC BY ROB LOCK 27-8-2016

Residents in the town were stunned to see the towering yellow structure on the prom and went to have a closer look.

Considered to be most dangerous extreme sport in the world, base-jumping sees the daredevils freefalling before opening their parachutes just seconds before impact, then using their skills and experience to land on targets placed on the beach.

This was a competitive event, so some of the world’s best base jumpers were in town to take part.

Among the special guests was Dan Witchall, base-jumping world champion and star of Channel 4’s The Men Who Jump Off Buildings.

International competitors included Klaus Rennz, the three-time world champion from Germany.

Organising the event was Julian Deplidge, 39, of Westbourne Avenue, Cleveleys, who was ranked second in the World Championships in 2014.

Julian, a theatrical producer by profession, said: “It does have a reputation for being one of the most dangerous sports and there is obviously that element of risk.

“If it goes wrong it will go wrong pretty quickly, but fortunately that doesn’t happen very often.

“It is more risk than chess, but personally I find the idea of doing backward flips on a motorcycle a hundred times more terrifying!

“I started with sky-diving and base jumping was a natural progression, I suppose. I fell in love with it and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Although the sport does not have an official governing body, international competitions are held throughout the world and top competitors like Klaus Rennz travel the globe to take part. He has won three of them.

Staging the event is not cheap, however, and competitors in the Blackpool event have each had to pay a fee to cover the costs.

Julian said: “It costs thousands a day to hire the crane alone, so it is not a cheap thing to stage.

“But Blackpool’s headland is perfect for this kind of thing and hopefully businesses can come in and offer sponsorship.

“It would be my dream to host an even bigger extreme sports festival here, not 
just base-jumping but BMX stunt-riders and skateboarders.

“Maybe in the not so distant future we can see that happen.”