SIBU: For French BASE jump athlete Polo Raymond, Sibu is probably the only place on earth where he can leap from a building without having to worry about legal consequences.
Raymond, who was among 49 foreign participants who took part in Sibu International BASE Jump, said: “In Europe, we have to do it at night to avoid being chased after by security guards.
“Here, we can jump ‘legally’ day and night from a building. The security guards here look after us instead,” said Polo, 26.
A professional skydiving instructor with over 2,000 trainees, Raymond said as a tower jumper, he liked the 27-storey Wisma Sanyan, where the event has been held for the past eight years.
“It is a nice building with suitable height for the sport. It helps us pull off perfect landings,” he said, adding that the participants were also pleased with the event’s organising team.
Raymond said BASE jumping brought him to places such as Italy, Switzerland and the US.
“The Sibu event is my first trip to an Asian country,” he said.
He discovered the sport four years ago and thus far, he has recorded a total of 530 jumps.
Graphic designer Taya Weiss, 33, boasts a personal record of 300 jumps since 2014.
Like most BASE jumpers, Weiss capitalises on her skydiving skills.
“I came to Sibu to do 10 jumps a day,” she said of her target.
The Frenchwoman’s passion for the sport was kindled when she came across a group of people jumping from a bridge in the US.
Weiss was accompanied by her boyfriend Graham Davey, a professional diver from Canada who also participated in the event.
The three-day event attracted 52 jumpers from 15 countries, which included Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the US.
Sibu Municipal Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King said stronger foreign participation augured well for the town’s tourism sector.
“I am sure their participation will significantly help put Sibu on the world’s BASE Jump map,” he told reporters after witnessing the Dayak miring ceremony.
The ceremony saw 15 members of the Sarawak Gagong Club in Iban traditional costume performing a special ritual believed to ensure the safety of participants.
Tiong said he was optimistic that the council would meet its target of bringing in 100 jumpers next year in conjunction with Visit Sibu Year 2017.