Karters in fight out for Formula One finish

Saturday, October 16th, 2010 2 Comments

Two drivers with strong links to go-karting look set to fight out the 2010 Formula One championship. Spanish driver and twice winner Fernando Alonso is in a head-to-head with Australia’s Mark Webber, with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton – another junior karter – just off the pace.

Just like motor racing legend Ayrton Senna, Alonso’s father José Luis made a kart for his elder sister when she was eight, but the three-year-old Fernando Alonso showed more enthusiasm for the sport than his sister Lorena. (The above clip shows Alonso returning to karts for his local crowd in Oviedo in northern Spain, where he was born.)

Alonso’s rival Aussie racer Mark Webber was later into karting, taking it up aged 14, and winning the New South Wales championship in 1993. But Red Bull racer Webber recently returned to the karting track. He was at the Karting circuit in Milton Keynes to support fellow driver Chris Van Der Drift.

New Zealand’s Chris van der Drift was injured at the beginning of August racing in the Superleague Formula at Brands Hatch but his insurance did not cover his medical bills. The karting fundraiser was held at Milton Keynes’ go-kart circuit. ‘We’re like one big family in motor racing and if one of us finds ourselves in times of hardship then the rest of us rally round,’ Webber said.

If you want to try karting – with or without the promise of a future career in Formula One – click here.

Paintballing masterclass

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 No Comments

Tamba Bay paintball enthusiast, Mike, who claims to run the world’s fastest growing paintball website https://www.techpb.com, compiled this video on improving your paintball technique. It’s clearly aimed at ambitious paintballers who don’t mind slip sliding away. Try it if you dare. But be warned, if you’ve just had a hip replacement – it may not be for you…

If you want to try paintball check out your nearest UK paintball venue. Click here

Adrenalin junkie interview

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009 11 Comments

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Chris Edwards started early. Aged 33, he has been splattering opponents for 20 years. His career with the national squad, London Shockwave, London Nexus and Birmingham Disruption, has taken him around the globe. ‘I have never had a prouder moment than playing for my country,’ says Chris. ‘Cheesy as it sounds, when the national anthem plays, there is a sense of pride you don’t get anywhere else,’ he adds. Over the last three years, Chris has captained Birmingham Disruption, a team which plays in the SPL division within the Millennium series. ‘I was asked by two leading paintball companies to put a team of northern players together to take on the European circuit. Without companies like www.planeteclipse.com and www.phoenixpaintball.co.uk my team would be unable to travel and compete at the highest level,’ he says. Birmingham Disruption is just back from Disneyland Paris, where they beat Dramin Solid 4-3 in the final to take first place.

How did you get into it paintball?

I am a stereotype of how most people get into paintball. I went to a local indoor paintball field with a group of friends and enjoyed it so much I decided to go back. Soon the guy who owned the place offered me a job, let’s face it when you’re 13 an extra 30-quid a day goes a long way on paintballs. When I first started out, we were using pistols and science goggles with only a very limited tournament scene. Now we have advanced to such a degree we have to cap the speed of the tournament guns for safety reasons – a bit like Formula One – so most tournament series only allow ten balls per second (BPS) ramping at the>ir events. This means if you pull the trigger five times in quick succession, the gun will ramp to shoot at ten BPS for the duration of you pulling the trigger. It will cease once you have stopped pulling the trigger.

Who’s your extreme sports hero?

Anthony ‘Ledz’ Leadbetter – one of the UK’s legendary professional paintball players.

What’s the biggest thrill you’ve had playing paintball?

I have won my fair share of events, but the biggest thrill has to be playing an American series of events called the NPPL back in 2004. The venue was Huntington Beach, California. Huntington is one the biggest places in the US for surfing …also its about two miles up the road from Sunset Beach where Baywatch was filmed. However, the real thrill was playing in front of 3,000 people on centre court in a stunning location. Amazing!

COMBAT: Chris in action

COMBAT: Chris in action

What’s the best terrain for paintball?

Without doubt the best surface I have played on is something called XL TURF – what American football is played on – it is sort of a very thick Astroturf that cushions you when you dive. https://www.xlturf.ch

Explain in a sentence why someone should try paintball.

What other sport allows you to shoot someone ten times and then go to the bar with them later?

What other extreme sports are you into?

I would love to say I am into all kinds of different things, but sadly paintball has taken over my life. Pretty much every weekend I practice with my team – we tend to have one weekend off in four.

What’s the next big thing in paintball?

I’d like one worldwide format for tournament paintball. At the moment, we have too many variations. From Xball M7, seven-man, five-man and three-man, without one world governing body to make these choices, it’s going to be difficult to go forward with the sport.

What are your views on the debate between C02 versus compressed air for markers?

For me CO2 is what we are used to, but most up-to-date rental fields now use air, which is much safer and can have a compressor on site to generate its own air for the tanks.

What is your response to people who think paintball is a game for would-be Rambos?

Paintball is a very diverse sport which any size, shape or gender can play. We get a huge diversity within the sport. There are people whose lifelong dream is to play at the highest level. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who want to run around the woods playing war – nothing against these guys – they do it because they love it. A lot of people who want to play war tend to head towards Airsoft as the equipment is much more realistic.

What do you say to people who think paintball is unsafe?

Paintball is no more unsafe than playing any other sport if you look up the statistics which show injuries per 1,000.

If you’ve never tried paintball before, what would you advise to get the best out of the day?

I would approach paintball like any other sport, just go and enjoy it – take it for what it is and have fun. If you are going as a group of friends and have the choice of going to a selection of rental fields, have a look of what type of game zones the rental field has: you want to get the most out of your day so the more game zones the more fun.

If you want to try paintball check out your nearest UK paintball venue. Click here

High ropes top of the tree

Friday, October 2nd, 2009 No Comments

If you go down to the woods today, take a look up in the canopy. The object moving around in the trees could just be your accountant.  Corporate team builders, it seems, are taking the term ‘high flyers’ quite literally. Lawyers, marketers and senior executives, can increasingly be seen swinging from trees or moving around in the foliage.

This adventure activity comes under a veritable forest of titles – challenge courses, ropes challenge, teams course. Or, if you prefer the more military jargon – assault, commando or obstacle courses. And, then there’s low ropes, which is much the same as high ropes, only closer to the turf. But whatever label you care to attach to it, rope courses normally involve a combination of trees, belay and safety systems using wire rope, climbing harnesses and friction devices.

So, what is the attraction of the canopy? Is the latest craze for tree challenges a return to our evolutionary roots? Or, in an increasingly sophisticated world, is it simply the easiest way to escape? Does swinging between mother-nature’s oxygen producers specially invigorate us?  No doubt Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape, would have some thoughts.

Many scientists believe we learned to walk while inhabiting the green foliage.  Indeed, as academics at Liverpool University point out, trees are the ideal habitat to learn walking skills.  Could this explain why high ropes are so often the place we go to seek challenges? Greek soldiers are thought to have bonded for the Trojan wars using rope courses, no British Army soldier passes out without exertions on high rope assault courses, and generations of boy scouts have hung on for their lives on monkey runs.

Certainly, it is every child’s dream to build a tree house and hide from their parents in their own lofty world. Could this explain the enduring appeal of fictional creatures like Tarzan and Robin Hood? But why are trees so often the environment we choose to test ourselves? High rope challenges appear to be a right-of-passage for people of all ages from youth groups to mature executives. The Marines have a famously tough rope course, with the enticing title of the Tarzan Assault course, which eases you in with a death slide and ends with a rope climb up a 30ft near-vertical wall.

George Hébert, a French naval officer is generally credited with inventing the modern rope course, when he attempted to fuse the natural world with the obstacle challenges found on ships in the early 20th century. The US website ropes-online estimates there are now over 7,500 ropes courses in the US with up to 400 built each year.

Dave Jeffery, a creative director in the advertising industry, took to the high ropes in the New Forest. ‘The team task was described as a ”Tree Canopy” walk,’ explains Dave. ‘A series of rope adventures, including zip wires, rope bridges and tight wires with rope handrails. Challenging at the best of times, daunting if like me, you suffer from vertigo. The dilemma was fear of letting the team down versus terror of heights.’

Simon, who is a corporate lawyer, escaped with his team to Wales for weekend of activities, where the highlight proved to be the high ropes. ‘I am not the adventurous type, so I confess to being fearful. But the high ropes were by far the best activity, because everyone lost their inhibitions, totally. Dangling from ropes and swinging between trees, focuses the mind. There was lots of hysterical laughter.’

Albert is a youth worker, employed by a church charity. ‘Young people love rope courses. They provide the perfect combination of excitement, physical challenge and fun. We take groups of children from the centre of London into the country. We’ve tried a variety of these courses, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated.’ He adds: ‘Some of the courses involve having to work as a team and trust your colleagues, we have found these really powerful in helping young people learn to interact.’

Maybe we are heading back where we came from – to the trees.

Want to head for the tree tops? Then click here

Extreme wedding anniversary gifts

Thursday, October 1st, 2009 5 Comments

The wedding anniversary: an occasion for you, your chosen one and a 2,000ft fall. Whatever happened to romance? Well, it seems love now comes in all sorts of high-speed, high-adrenalin ways.

Many couples are blowing out the candlelit dinners in favour of more daring pursuits. Today’s full-on romantics are bored with sitting around in restaurants and gazing into each other eyes over the petit fours. Instead of a box of chocolates and an item of jewellery, a wedding anniversary gift is just as likely to be bungee jumping off a bridge, rafting down a river or rolling around in a plastic ball.

Milton, aged 36, and Lauren, 34, decided to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary by falling head over heels for each other again, only this time from 2,000ft above Hawaii.  Milton says: ‘I have a list of things I want to do before I leave this world, and skydiving was one of my top five. Now I can move on to the next thing.’ But was Lauren as keen on throwing herself out of an aeroplane for her anniversary as her husband? ‘I had to convince my wife for an entire year that this would be the ultimate anniversary celebration,’ he adds.

So did Lauren and Milton end up on cloud nine or crash down to earth with a bang? ‘It was definitely better than the same old anniversary dinner you have year after year,’ says Milton. ‘It was very romantic because this was something we were doing together and it connected us in a different way, all the way from the anxiety build-up to the exhilarating conclusion of our great experience.’

The high-flying couple now plan to try bungee jumping in Bloukrans, South Africa, which claims to be the world’s highest bungee jump. So would they recommend a high adventure anniversary to other couples? ‘Of course. Set yourself apart and enjoy the feeling of freedom in the skies,’ is Milton’s advice.

Five reasons for an adrenalin-racing anniversary:
1.    Don’t worry too much about what extreme sports activity you choose. You’re a giant leap ahead of those poor suckers who have forgotten it’s their anniversary and are sleeping in the broom cupboard.
2.    Keep this to yourself – you don’t want to be seen as manipulative – but in the same ways as horror movies are known to get the adrenalin racing, a pulse- racing day may just led to a high activity evening of adventure.
3.    No-hassle surprises with everything sorted out are always a hit.
4.    If your partner is less than able at the chosen sporting activity, don’t worry; it’s a chance to show your caring side. If you have one.
5.    A shared experience of danger will bring you closer together. Remember the marriage vow – ‘Til death do us part’.

You can check ideas for your wedding anniversary on: theactivitypeople.co.uk