We’re here at the UK’s largest skydiving competitions, hosted at our very own dropzone year after year. We love this event, as we get to see the teams training, working hard and doing some pretty incredible things in the sky.
During a weather hold today (it is the UK, afterall!), we caught up with the team Antimatter. This is the last year we will all have the privilege of seeing team Antimatter competing together. It’s been a long road full of successes, so we thought it would be great to do a mini-interview with the team talking about their story. Team Antimatter consists of Henry Chow, Dave West, Blythe Davies, Ant Hill and Adam Pencharz.
How did Antimatter start out?
Blyth and Ant were in an A, AA team together called Incognito, and moved in with the big boys and girls of AAA with Jo Burns and Kyle Price and this was the start of Antimatter. Then Dave and Henry joined in 2014, and holy cow, some five years later we arrive at today!!! (But it’s worth noting that both Blythe and Ant have been on the same team for 8 years – they’re not married though)
What do you think the reasons have been for your team longevity you are spread all over the country and are from such different backgrounds?
Henry: Always do what you say you were going to do. Secondly, in training, things don’t always go well, avoid being too quick to judge, and acknowledge that it’s a team effort. When things go tits up, look to yourself first. Remember that team training is not a holiday. Everyone in the team is also committing valuable time, money and energy. So work things out together.
Dave: I think it is important to be respectful to your team mates, when the time is right, be honest and open, but also recognise when to let thinks go, just good people skills really.
Blyth: From the start, we tried to uphold the age old tradition of being gentleman skydivers. This means following certain rules.1 Don’t be a dick, 2. Do what you say you will do, 3. Ok that’s pretty much it.
Ant: Planning the year out and following that plan is good advice. Talking and working out any changes well in advance to meet everyone’s expectations, budgets and time commitments. Look to the fun first, learning second and don’t focus on failure.
Pench: We stick to the plan. I tend to be the only one to voice my opinions on major team decisions if I’m asked. As camera, I’m not spending the money, so I let the boys work it out themselves.
After all this time, why is the curtain about to drop, pardon the pun?
Ant: It’s time to look forward towards something new. Time and money are always tight in a team environment, so to do anything different requires a wind-down on team commitment, which at AAA level doesn’t produce results.
Henry: Because Blyth’s had enough. I need to think more about my financial future and be a grown up, now I’m 25 (editor: really?) I need to think about my retirement.
Dave: Blyth wants to have babies and Henry said no.
Pench: Chow finally professed his undying love for Blyth who just got married this year. It’s had ramifications.
Blyth: I’ve had enough….you get less time for murder.
Every team has its ups and downs. How have you managed conflict in the team?
Ant: Let the little things go. Plenty of talk and team chats during non-jumping time. Emotions can run high during comps, and also when training doesn’t go well, so accept that people have feelings and treat each other in the same way that you would want to be. Oh yes, and try to prank Chow to the max.
Henry: NEVER point fingers. NEVER shut people down. TALK openly.
Dave: See answer to question 1.
Blyth: I would say holding your tongue in 99% of situations is important. If you have something to say to the rest if the team, they are probably already thinking it anyway, so why say it.
Pench: Keep my opinions to my self unless asked. Then I try to weigh up the arguments and be honest.
What have been the highlights for you?
Henry: Attending the World Cup in 2017 at Saarlouis, Germany as part of team GB. It’s a shame the weather was cack and we only did five rounds. But great people, great parties, and great jumping. I had an awesome road trip with Pench.
Ant: I have loved the week long training camps that we do, everyone has focused the learning and moved us forward more than a day here or there. World Challenge competitions are a great place to meet world-level competitors and learn from them. The community of skydivers are the greatest asset this sport has.
Dave: World cup in Saarlouis was a high, any competition has a different feel to training, I’m glad we got the opportunity to do this before finishing.
Pench: For me it was the 2014 UK National Championships, the piss up after 2017 UKSL and the World Cup 2017.
Blyth: The 2017 World Cup was a highlight for me and the year of training leading up to it. Also scoring a 15+ average at one of the Hib Cup and then getting absolutely ruined afterwards.
So what’s next for you if anything within the world of skydiving?
Henry: More fun jumps, probably do more boogie events and take it easy into my retirement.
Ant: More fun weekend trips to different dropzones, use the wingsuits I bought three years ago.
Dave: I’ve been skydiving a long time now, too many years to mention here, so I’m starting to wind down now, but lots of new things to get into – mountain biking and snowboarding. You never know though, a few quiet seasons not skydiving, and I might be ready for another team (editor: we hope so!).
Pench: I’d love to carry on high level competition if my work allows. 8-way maybe? I collect rusty sheriff badges, so I’d like to dedicate some time going to the old west to find some.
Blyth: I enjoy the training more than anything and am looking for a new challenge, so if an 8 way team came along I might give that ago….#callme.
Do you have any advice for making a team a success / keeping it together?
Henry: Remember, it’s a team. Commit and act out your commitment. Remember, everyone else has also sacrificed a lot of time and money into the team.
Ant: What Henry said.
Dave: Every team you are on is an opportunity to learn, both skydiving skills and team skills (you need to learn both skillsets). For most skydivers, early teams are a stepping stone towards the team that will give you the opportunity to produce your best performance. Give your most for each team along the way, but also use each team to learn and it will make you a stronger skydiver and better team mate for future opportunities.
Blyth: You need to enjoy the training and each other’s company, so work hard at being mates and the rest is easy.
Lastly, any funny stories to tell?
Henry: At a Decathlon sports supermarket…. Pench and I got back to the apartment in our car. The other boys had the key, but we were sure they’d be here soon, as we left the DZ together…… 120 minutes later…., in 40°C heat….. no sign of them. They had gone shopping in Decathlon.
Ant: That hurts.
Ant: Pench starting the #athletes meme. Pictures of us doing things that are definitely not athletic. Dave sleeping. Eating junk. Beers….
Dave: #Cowabunga – Pench tells the story better than me.
Pench: Dave swan diving head first into a hot tub shouting “Cowabunga and a mother related explitive!”
Blyth: A few stand out moments for me 1. Drunkenly sleepwalking into Ant’s bedroom on a “training camp” (weathered out so had a holiday instead) and wee’ing on his floor…I actually have no memory of this, but I’m advised its true. 2. The rest aren’t really stories but generally taking the piss out of each other including being racist to Chow, shouting in Scottish accents, making up rumours and laughing at each other’s miss-fortunes.
Photo credits belong to Jack Davies, Rob Lloyd and of course Adam Pencharz.