Archie Jamieson and Alana Bertram in training over the Gold Coast ahead of the world championships. (Supplied: Archie Jamieson)
After thousands of practice jumps and hundreds of hours in a plane, skydiving medals are won and lost within 45 seconds, 4 kilometres in the air.
It is that tiny, thrilling window that competitors at the World Parachuting Championships on the Gold Coast say keeps them coming back for more.
“It is the most fun you can have — you have a real buzz the whole time because you don’t want to let your teammate down and you want to do the best that you can,” Australian representative Archie Jamieson said.
“You have to learn to control your adrenaline.”
For a week starting this Sunday, 600 elite skydivers from 25 countries will vie for 10 titles in the skies above Runaway Bay, including formation and speed skydiving, where competitors freefall at up to 600 kilometres per hour.
There is also Jamieson’s speciality, the two-person artistic freestyle, which involves he and his partner Alana Bertram executing difficult gymnastic manoeuvres while he films both of them in freefall.
Judges mark the pair on the execution of her moves and the quality of his camerawork.
Most of the pair’s training is conducted on actual skydives, along with stints in wind tunnels at interstate and international training camps.
Unlike many of the teams they will come up against over the next week, Jamieson and Bertram are mostly self-funded.
“Teams like the French and the USA, they do about 1,000 training jumps a year plus hundreds of hours of wind tunnel training time,” Jamieson said.
“We have a total of 50 hours free tunnel time and 400 jumps together as a team, so it makes it very difficult to compete with at that level but we think we can give them a pretty good run anyway.”
While skydiving has a reputation as a sport for daredevils, competition organiser and Australian Parachuting CEO Brad Turner said he believed they had more safety measures in place when compared with many other sports.
“It’s not a crazy people sport like a lot of people think it is,” he said.
“As long as you stick by all the rules and do the right thing it is safe as any other sport.
“We are 59 or 69 down the list of the most dangerous sports in the world these days.
“A malfunctioning main parachute doesn’t mean it is the end of it.
“We have a second parachute as a backup and also have an automatic activation device built into the system so if you are still freefalling at a certain speed it will jettison the reserve parachute for you.”
It is the first time the world championships have been held in Australia in 20 years.