Sky Surfing - By Lamorna Harpin

One of the most visually stimulating skydiving disciplines, the skysurf team comprises of the ‘board flyer’ and ‘cameraman’. Do you remember the skysurfing Pepsi TV commercials- this discipline has also brought skydiving as a whole into the eye of the general public.

Three Dimensional Playground

Whilst researching this article, a skysurfer remarked to me that he first became interested in skysurfing because of the diversity and different ways of flying that attracted him. He pointed out that in skysurfing you are using the whole sky to work with.
The skysurfer moves around the sky by presenting the edges of the board to the wind in different ways. This allows him to rapidly track around the sky, change his speed and direction. Fun for the skysurfer, and also for his cameraman who is trying to follow the skysurfers movements as he explores his playground. Due to the capabilities of the skysurfer to radically change his speed and direction, the cameraman will instinctively know what will be next as a fellow team member who is familiar with the sequence of the skydive.

Releasing the skysurf board

Normally, the boarder will deploy their canopy standing straight up on the board. This technique ensures that there is no possibility of catching the canopy on the board during the deployment sequence. However, as a safety back up, the skysurf board can be released by the skysurfer with a special release system- he can ‘cut away’ (release) the board by using the release cable and the board can simply fall away.
The skysurfer may also want to cut away their board when he comes in to land his canopy if he has excess forward speed and wants to run off his landing. In this case, he cuts away the skysurf board just before landing, only a few feet above ground.

Do you want to learn to skysurf?

With the British Parachute Association you are required to have a FAI or BPA C Certificate to learn to skysurf. You also need to have at least 200 skydives and at least another ‘Grade 1’ before you can start working on your SS1 (Skysurfing certificate). Skysurfing is a very physical skydiving discipline, so a certain degree of strength, health and flexibility will really help whilst learning. Due to the different dimensional planes that a skysurfer works in, it is also important that you are a good freeflyer before starting to learn to skysurf.
As with all skydiving, it is always important to gain advice and training from someone experienced in the field. Speak with your dropzone CCI who will be able to put you in contact with a suitable coach.

What size skysurf board should I start on?

A bit like a snowboard, you will probably start on a 32 inch board with your feet facing perpendicular to the board. As with learning to skydive on the AFF system, you will firstly focus on your body position, safety, and deployment. Skydivers are used to deploying their parachute in the standard belly to earth body position, and this will be the case as you start to learn to skysurf. As you progress, the size of the skysurf board will get bigger, and you will start to learn how to deploy standing up. There is always lots of time to get ready for landing your canopy, as when you are learning to skysurf, canopy deployment is around 6000ft. Finally, the progression will change your feet position from having your feet square to the board, to having them facing the length of the board, similar to a skateboarder.

Competitions - International and National

Skysurfing is judged by a panel of judges who score the team on their technical presentation of the specified manoeuvres and the teams interaction with each other and the audience. The skysurfer and cameraman are also scored on style and control whilst they complete ‘free’ and ‘predetermined’ competition rounds.

Interesting Link: - This site has nice pictures and videos of skysurfers in action.

For further information on sky sport try