IF you’re out anywhere near Moruya Airport over the next few weeks and notice three people falling from the sky, don’t be alarmed.
If anything, you should probably cheer for them as it will most likely be the Australian parachute team performing one of several practice jumps ahead of next month’s world championships in Dubai.
The Australian team – made up of Michael Vaughan, cameraman Craig Bennett and Moruya’s very own Jules McConnel – will base themselves in the Eurobodalla for the next three weeks to put the finishing touches on their world championship preparations.
The Moruya training camp will round off what has been an exhausting year for the trio, one that has seen them travel behind enemy lines as part of their quest for world domination.
McConnel and her colleagues are eager to knock Team USA of its perch in Dubai next month after the Americans relegated the Aussies to second place at the last world cup, which was held in Russia.
So in a bid to leave no stone unturned, the Australian team flew to America recently and set up a training camp in the desert state of Arizona.
It may sound like a hectic schedule to most, but McConnel insisted the Aussies have enjoyed every moment, even if some things haven’t gone their way.
“Our preparations have been fantastic,” she said.
“We’ve just come back from America where we had fantastic weather, which is good because in winter it’s too cold to train here in Moruya.
“So we had to choose other locations and we went to Queensland, but we didn’t have much luck with the weather there.
“We planned to do about 500 jumps, but we’ve only been able to do about 300.”
Asked how much that would affect their preparations, McConnel remained largely upbeat.
“I guess it’s just disappointing, but you can’t get frustrated at the weather otherwise I wouldn’t stay in this game,” she said with a laugh.
The Australian team may not have had the weather gods on their side of late, but they have enjoyed one major advantage.
A renowned New Zealand parachute company has been working with the team to fine tune its equipment and make it the envy of all others at the world championships.
“We’ve been tweaking a few things and we’ve been working closely with this company from New Zealand to change the technology of our parachutes,” McConnel said.
“It’s all going to be to our advantage and with the training we’ve had, we’ve come a long way, we’ve improved a lot and so we’re heading into the tournament with a lot of confidence.”
However, world championship success won’t come easy – the defending world champions (USA) aside, McConnel said her team was expecting fierce competition from the Russians and French.
In what is a sport not for the feint hearted, teams at the world championships must make as many different formations possible before reaching the ground.