By Chris Bohn
“CRW dogs are just boozed out old men with sketchy gear and some demented lust for stimulation. Those wretched beasts can only satisfy the hunger by participating in horrifically twisted displays of pure nihilism as they hurl towards the ground at a disgusting rate, wrapped in each other’s canopies and lines. When they somehow manage to survive, their psychotic ramblings and jackal like laughter would suggest they’re fit only for a padded room somewhere, deep in the catacombs, below the most corrupt prison on earth.” -Jesus H. Public
While those crusty old fuckers still exist, there is a new explosion of young pups who have found their discipline and are breathing new life into a “forgotten” art. Canopy relative work (CRW) or canopy formation (CF) skydiving has been thought of as a dying discipline. The world record 100-way, back in 2007, seemed to have scratched the itch for a lot of CRW dogs as they reached an incredible milestone. The world’s largest formation was truly something magnificent but that was also CRW’s exit from the spotlight in a lot of ways.
Large formations are wonderful works of engineering and discipline but there is a new spin on classic CRW that has really caught the attention of a younger generation. Since events like Project Orange in 2013 and Project Blacklist in 2017, where disciplines mingled, CRW is starting to makes its way back into normal conversation. Project Orange included a CRW frame with an open center where a few high-performance canopy pilots swooped through the opening. Project Blacklist featured a larger version of the open frame where Will Kitto flew his wingsuit through the center. At the Dink Dink Boogie in 2017, Will Kitto also flew his wingsuit by a CRW formation, flared up and pitched his Lightning, then proceeded to dock on the formation he just flew by.
What’s next?! (Come try CRW and find out!)
What makes these magnificent displays possible and why is it important? We need to keep advancing our sport. If we just relax back with our achievements, why would anyone else want to try what’s already been done a million times? As imaginative folk, it is important to take what we have learned from the wise and keep raising the bar. This make ideas that used to be thought of as impossible, if thought of at all, very realistic. So, to answer the question of how, there is no doubt it is because of new people with new ideas. As far as why it’s important? Because it’s fucking fun.
CRW has always been a very accepting discipline. Most jumpers have been offered CRW jumps, right? So why are there still so many people who haven’t tried it? A lot of jumpers have an opinion of CRW, whether it’s based on anything more than campfire stories or not. CRW dogs have been known to play up the dangerous side, as these crooked fuckers tell horrific wrap stories while boarding the plane with all kinds of shit hanging out of their ratty old rigs. While it can be fun to play up the silliness, a few folks recognized that this was not helpful and that we were actually hurting the sport by alienating people who were uncomfortable with that side of CRW. The discipline needed a facelift.
With the latest influx of younger CRW pups and dogs has come a new surge forward for CRW. People are focusing more on the flying skills than the fuckery. Who would have thought that would be all it took to appeal to more people? The fuckery is still a very important part of CRW but it remains an afterthought and it’s not forced down the throat of those who don’t want it. With a variety of pup camps, skills camps, invitationals and big-way CRW events focusing more on the growth of the individuals as well as the community as a whole, more remarkable things have begun to happen—and they are happening with FEWER WRAPS!
More people are saying yes to safer CRW and loving it.
For some, bigger is better. During the latest Spring Fling Boogie in Lake Wales, there was a succession of jumps including a 25-way, 36-way, 49-way and two 50-ways all successfully built with no wraps or cutaways. That is truly amazing considering what big way CRW used to involve and says a lot about the ability of the organizers to engineer. It also says a lot about the fliers. There are more fliers to choose from, sure, but the general level of skill is higher than ever right now. New jumpers have risen to the occasion and this CRW train isn’t slowing down any time soon.
For those not as interested in single-point big-ways, there are plenty of organizers pulling off some amazing fuzz. Things like multiple-point, multiple-pilot, sequential small- and big-ways. A lot of the new people like these types of jumps because it is more flying, which allows people to get way more out of every jump. These invitational events and skills camps focus on building formations efficiently and smoothly, which results in faster build times—which in turn opens any size formation up with more possibilities. When everyone is flying at this level, we can build formations that shouldn’t even work and then turn them into amazing sequential jumps.
Every jump’s design has to cater to the least skilled person so when you raise the bar, starting with the students, the possibilities really start to open up. This takes the effort of the whole community to pitch in and give back. This is shown through the camps, where experienced dogs come coach for free, and boogies with the same dynamic, as well as in competition, with bringing back the pro-am class. The experienced people love to mentor the newcomers. Is it a nice gesture or just a way to get more people to jump with? You’ll have to decide from yourself.
Want to try CRW? Visit www.RawDogsCRW.com for a look at upcoming events around the U.S. and Canada. Be safe and do awesome shit! (Remember: if you wonder whether or not you have a CRW canopy, you don’t. Don’t do CRW on canopies with Microline and trailing pilot chutes. Be smart and ask questions to people qualified to answer them.)
See you at a boogie soon!
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