Beachy Head BASE JUMPING War continues…
Last Monday, the 20th January 2020 some friends and I spent the day at Beach Head base jumping as the conditions were perfect.
We had a nice time, stayed safe, spoke to some walkers, a chaplin and a member of the National Trust. We spent some money in the café at the Birling Gap and paid for 2x 4 hours or parking in the National Trust car park (£10).
On the Wednesday (22nd Jan) I had a random person post a link to newspaper article from The Telegraph Newspaper on my Instagram page.
(Newspaper article link towards bottom of post)
It goes on to say we were “immature” and did not make any effort to contact the Coast Guard to make them aware of our jumping.
This Telegraph article sparked a debate on our secret base jumping forum on facebook, which includes most of the UK’s active base jumpers.
The Coast Guard phone numbers were shared again on the forum and base jumpers were reminded to call the numbers before making base jumps at Beachy Head so that they are made aware.
On Friday 24th January a friend of mine was listening to the radio on the way to work and heard a discussion on BBC Sussex about base jumping at Beachy Head. It was the Ramblers Association, and the RNLI slamming base jumpers at Beachy Head.
He called me and told me this at around 8:30am and I felt a red mist scudding over, so I immediately Googled the number for BBC Sussex and called them. I got through straight away and advised that I was a base jumper, local to Beachy Head and had been jumping there earlier this week. They patched me through live to the station within a minute or two.
I waited and then was instantly greeted by Mark Carter, the radio DJ live on air.
Shit. What was I going to say? Haha
I knew I had to put up some sort of defence for base jumpers, but the one thing that made me call in the first place is that we had been accused of not making the Coast Guard aware that we were jumping on Monday and Tuesday.
I will put a link to my 4 minute radio segment below, but in short I went straight on with explaining that we DID in fact call the Coast Guard before jumping on Monday, like we do every time we jump. The Coast Guard were thankful that we called (like always), so I find it somewhat offensive that we were being accused of not calling them.
In my opinion, this is what I think is happening here:
One or two local walkers/residents do not like us base jumping there, they have a bee in their bonnet for whatever reason. So they are using propaganda to influence the local MP, visitors, RNLI and the emergency services. As for the random lady that posted the Telegraph article link on my Instagram, I looked in to her and surprise surprise, she is a member of the Ramblers Association. I also believe her husband (assume a retired photographer) is the man we see with an SLR and giant lens almost every time we jump there. He is always there waiting for base jumpers so that he can take photos of them from a distance. He does this so that he can make the photos look like we are alone, and of course so we don’t spot him…but we do ;-)
Most of the walkers and Chaplins we speak with have no issue with it, in fact they hang around and watch most of the time. I have been base jumping here for 3 years and have never had a walker say anything negative about base jumping to me. It’s usually comments like “haha rather you than me”, or “how do you get back up?”.
I can’t speak on behalf of the base jumpers that were there on the Tuesday, but those jumpers have assured me that the same call was made to the Coast Guard on the Tuesday, and I believe them. These jumpers are very experienced and have been jumping Beachy Head for many years.
Occasionally, and I mean occasionally, you may get a jumper that will jump alone. This is something that we do not condone regardless of where you are jumping, it is extremely foolish. People that are new to base jumping and don’t know any other base jumpers may be tempted to do this. I have witnessed it once in my base jumping career and I advised the particular individual what I think about it. I offered them my contact details also, so if they planned to jump in my area, I could at least be there as a second set of eyes.
To non-jumpers base jumping is silly, foolish, dangerous, stupid, crazy…you name it, we’ve heard it all. However, most base jumpers are intelligent. I have met UK base jumpers that are in the following professions:
. University Professor
I have made jumps with all of them. They are not crazy, they are calculated.
We all base jump for different reasons, but most of us have our own personal risk to reward ratios that we stick to. Some jumps are simply not worth the risk of hurting yourself, for instance the jump could be easy but the landing area could be tight and unforgiving.
Would a Tennis coach, or anyone in a job that needs their legs in good working order, risk a jump that has giant boulders you need to avoid in a landing area that is already tight? Maybe, maybe not. I know I wouldn’t.
Every jump we weigh up the risk, we don’t want to die and we really could do without hurting ourselves also.
Sure, some jumps you roll the dice on more than others, but we try to do what we can to stack the odds in our favour, rather than against us.
Something that erks me when talking to non-jumpers about BASE, is being accused of being a nutter. To me, a nutter is someone that rides a motorbike on a UK road. Why? Because we have too many old people driving in the UK that fail to check their blind spots when changing lanes, thus knocking people off their motorbikes all the time. To me, THAT is not worth the risk.
Anyway going a bit off topic there…
Here is the link to the Telegraph article:
These ‘distressed walkers’ must have believed they were watching a mass suicide on Monday, as 5 of us jumped off all one after the other. We had around 7 or 8 passers-by stood watching us as well, who wanted to video it…this is why I find it hard to believe that this complaint wasn't engineered by a single entity.
And here is my response on the radio, BBC Sussex Mark Carter Breakfast Show on the 24.1.20:
Thanks for reading guys, I had to get this one out there and I’m still annoyed about it.
Since the article and radio, the guy that’s heads up our secret base jumping forum started a fund to help the Coast Guards and Chaplins at Beachy Head. At the time of writing it is up to £900.69. I’m sure it will go well over £1000, all donations from base jumpers that jump at Beachy Head.
Out of the Thousands of base jumps that get done at Beachy Head each year, I have known of 2 incidents where jumpers needed the emergency service, both of which were a few years back. That’s not bad going.
Think of how many times the emergency services are called on a Friday night in the UK to attend alcohol-fuelled fights outside bars and clubs. Do they get the same heat that we do? No.
What about A & E on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon, full up with footballers with sprained ankles, broken collar bones and head injuries? Always full of them, but that’s ok right? As it’s Football.
I’ll leave you with that.
Thanks for reading.
CREDIT: ALAN FRASER FOR PHOTO OF BASEJUMPERS (ME AND GARY).
I AM NOT A BASE JUMPING INSTRUCTOR. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. DO NOT GO AND ATTEMPT TO JUMP OFF BEACHY HEAD, WITH OR WITHOUT A PARACHUTE BECAUSE YOU SAW MY POST.
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