BEING the best in Britain at any activity can be extremely difficult...achieving it after leaping from a plane at 10,500ft is difficult to the extreme. But a woman from Offord Cluny is set represent Britain on the world stage after winning a major skydivi
BEING the best in Britain at any activity can be extremely difficult...achieving it after leaping from a plane at 10,500ft is difficult to the extreme.
But a woman from Offord Cluny is set represent Britain on the world stage after winning a major skydiving championship.
Kate Stephens, 32, threw herself out of a plane at 10,500ft with her Team Storm skydiving squad over two weekends in August to take the British championships crown.
Miss Stephens, who lives in New Road, quit her job at a medical firm in Godmanchester in May to concentrate full-time on skydiving.
"We were absolutely delighted to win - particularly as we defeated the ladies world champions to do so," Miss Stephens said.
The championships, held in Lincolnshire, saw teams complete 10 formation skydives, aiming to complete as many shapes as possible.
The formations are captured by a photographer, who is as much a part of the team as the skydivers, and judged by professionals.
Miss Stephens estimates she has completed almost 3,000 skydives during her 10 years in the sport.
She said: "I first jumped while I was at university and got hooked. It was all about the adrenaline. The first jump is the most memorable - you are petrified beforehand and elated afterwards."
In formation skydiving, teams have 35 seconds from the moment they leave the plane to assemble themselves into as many shapes as possible.
Typically teams will manage around 18 formations in that time - one every two seconds. In 35 seconds the team will plummet to 4,000ft where they will separate before opening their parachutes at 2,000ft.
Team Storm saw off the challenge of reigning world and British champions, Team Elan, by averaging 18.1pts in their 10 jumps, compared to their rivals' 16.5pts.
The next big challenge for Miss Stephens and Team Storm will be the World Championships in 12 months.
Miss Stephens said her friends and family think her hobby is 'slightly weird', but people are generally excited and supportive.
She added: "The most dangerous part of the sport is driving to the drop zone - roads are far more dangerous than sky-diving."
The other members of the team are Sarah Smith, from Nottingham, Hannah Betts, from Cardiff, and Claire Scott, from Bicester.
The photographer is Gary Wainwright, also from Nottingham.
INFORMATION: For more on Team Storm, visit www.stormskydivingteam.co.uk