Sébastien Camuzet, the sky for a playground

Rather than keep their feet firmly on the ground and steer well away from danger, skydivers love nothing better than jumping out of aeroplanes into the void in the hope of sprouting wings and taking flight. one of these madmen of the skies describes how boldness comes as second nature.

Is the daring part about skydiving the first jump?

The daring part comes even before you jump. Daring is saying to myself, I have no idea what this is about and I know I’m going to be afraid; but I do it anyway, because although it doesn’t seem like it, beyond the fear, I know there’s something that will blow my mind.


So you’re addicted to risk?

More to the unknown. When you jump, you don’t have any idea what’s going to happen. So there are several different factors, the buzz and the sensation, the location…it’s not like going for a drive or anything like that. It’s special. You get on a plane, you go up and there’s an entire ritual before you jump, which all adds to the pressure.


And how did you first get this urge to fall from a great height?

When I was younger, the film Point Break had a real impact on me. And then my older brother did a skydive, which made me want to do one too. For my 28th birthday, I organised a weekend where my friends and I jumped together in pairs. It was absolutely incredible. After that, I did 150 jumps in one season.


We talk about freefall and yet there are a huge number of health and safety requirements in this discipline.

Yes and no. Once you accept the technical aspect and you are fully aware of the safety measures before jumping, there really is complete freedom. In the summer, we even jump in shorts and T-shirts and bare feet! You are in 3D, in the sky with your mates: it’s hard to imagine a better playground.


Do you get to a point where nothing at all scares you?

The fear evolves as you become more experienced; it becomes more of a frisson that keeps you on your toes. People who no longer feel fear are the ones at risk of doing something stupid.


In other words, freefalling is anything but madness.

Everyone thinks we are insane but it is actually incredibly well orchestrated. When several people jump at the same time, everyone has their place, their little patch of sky. It’s carefully choreographed so that it all happens bang on time. This requires technique and above all, an awareness of yourself and those around you. With parachuting, you have to play by the rules. It’s just the way it is otherwise people get killed.


It’s called an extreme sport yet a sense of calm and fluidity seems to be the key to the action…

Absolutely! You often hear people saying that parachuting is like falling. But it’s not – it’s flying. You touch the air, which is incredible. You play with the wind to move yourself around in complete freedom; it’s fascinating. Really, the only way to understand the pleasure is to experience it for yourself.


To the point that you forget you’re human?

Sure you do. As someone said in Point Break, ‘Use your arms, fly like an eagle baby!’ (Laughs).


Is putting your life on the line a way of cheating death, or gaining a better understanding of the meaning of life?

When you practise extreme sports, you become more responsible because you always need to be thinking about the worst case scenario. It helps you to take a step back from life’s daily problems. Freefalling has taught me about self-control, and finding my inner calm. Now I am much more aware of my strengths and weaknesses.


What makes you jump over and over again?

You’re always trying to get better. It’s quite addictive. Fundamentally, it’s about the pursuit of pleasure. Total pleasure. I’m yet to find anything else that gives me as much pleasure as this.


Sébastien Camuzet

If the sky was his playground, Sébastien Camuzet isn’t the type to have his head in the clouds. Sports coach, co-founder of the Sport Cluster Gym in Paris, actor and top-level sportsman, this busy all-rounder spins all these plates with the sole aim of achieving his dreams, surrounded by his friends. Some pursue money, others glory; but whether on stage or up in an aeroplane, he prefers to fall head first in pursuit of the ultimate pleasure.


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