With a goal to be the top skydiving team in the United Kingdom (UK), Chimera is looking forward to winning British nationals and beating the highest average achieved at a British nationals.
Currently, the team is made up of Sarah Ashworth, Will Cooke, Laura Hampton, Pete Harries and James Woods.
The team competes both indoors and outdoors. At indoor competitions, the team is comprised of Ashworth, Cooke, Hampton and Woods while at outdoor competitions, Harries flies above the team taking video and photos of the jump.
“When we learn to skydive with other people one of the skills is being able to control your fall rate by changing your surface area. The rest of the team is constantly doing this as well to stay with each other. I’m matching their speed just about 12 ft. above them being careful not to fly into their burble; the area of dead air above them,” Harries explained.
Their indoor season runs from November to April while their outdoor season is from April to September.
Having 14-20 years of experience each in skydiving, Ashworth, Hampton and Woods were part of Chimera in since its first year of formation, while Cooke and Harries have only been on the team for two years.
“We all love that it gives us the opportunity to spend so much time with each other, as we’re genuinely very good friends. Being on the team gives us the opportunity to learn so much about ourselves and each other and we appreciate every chance we have to improve and grow,” Hampton explained about what everyone loves about being on Chimera.
Throughout the year, Chimera goes to about three to six competitions a year and usually competes against 10-15 teams.
“Just getting to put into practice all the training and seeing how you’re measuring up to other teams in the earlier comps. And then Nationals is just a huge melting pot of stress, focus and excitement. There’s nothing quite like it,” Harries said about what he enjoys about going to competitions.
Chimera trains at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, Arizona, Skydive Langar in the UK, and Skydive Hibaldstow in the UK.
“Just how easy it is to turn up and get going, even if it’s last thing in the evening. The drop zone is very accommodating for us,” Harries said about his favourite thing about skydiving at Langar.
On a good day of weather, when they’re training, the team usually jumps about 12 times a day.
When they travel to Skydive Arizona, Chimera looks forward to being coached by their coach, Niklas Hemlin, a member of the 4-way formation team Arizona Airspeed.
“His input is absolutely invaluable. He teaches us how to perform the moves but more than that, he gives us the knowledge and confidence to make our own choices and fly the moves in the best way for us,” Hampton explained about what Hemlin helps Chimera with.
“He also coaches us on the mental side of competition and has helped us to become a much stronger team under his guidance,” she added.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the team has been unable to travel to Arizona so they currently get all their coaching from Hemlin virtually.
Back in August, at the 2021 British National Skydiving Championships, Chimera came in second to the current champions in a close competition.
“Throughout the competition, we were tied with the current champions. It stayed this way right through to the last round, when we tied again and had to go for a final ‘jump off’, after which the score was still tied and we ended up placing second on the tie break rule. A massive achievement for us but also a huge disappointment. We’ll be back in 2022 to win it though,” Hampton reminisced.
Although they love the consistency of indoor skydiving and the fact it isn’t affected by weather, Chimera loves the outdoor skydiving a lot.
“Outdoor skydiving is such an incredible experience! We love the whole thing, from the flight up to altitude to the camaraderie with all the skydivers just before exit to the whole thrill of freefall and the canopy ride. We love being on the drop zone and it’s the best way to skydive,” Hampton said.
Since being on the team, Woods has had the opportunity to travel to many cities and countries as part of Chimera.
Banja Luka in Bosnia stands out to him as one of his favourite locations.
“The brief if you landed off the drop zone was to not move and wait for a helicopter to pick you up, which sounds cool until they said it was because there were still loads of un-exploded mines left over from the war,” Woods recalled.
This year, Chimera is looking forward to traveling abroad and getting coaching with COVID restrictions being lifted.
The team would love to travel to Siberia one day as they missed out on going there last year due to COVID.
“We’d also love to go to Voss in Norway as it’s known to be the home of extreme sports,” Hampton said.
As of right now, Chimera is focused on training and preparing for the 2022 UK nationals with the goal to win gold.