There was high tension at Worthing Birdman this afternoon (August 16) as a newcomer nearly scooped first place.
Edgar Scukins went less than 20m yesterday and trailed the Condor class in fourth place.
However, by choosing to fly first today with barely any wind and again plunging straight into the water, he put reigning champion Ron Freeman in the tricky situation of having to jump to overtake him.
Despite going nearly 60m yesterday, Ron needed to jump twice over the weekend to overtake his competitor.
He eventually elected not to jump and the path was left clear for Tony Hughes to complete a dramatic take off and follow up his 106.5m from yesterday (August 15).
After claiming his total prize money of £12,150, Tony said he was ‘delighted’.
“Only people that have done it can describe what it’s like,” he said. “How do you describe the indescribable?
“It’s a combination of freedom and being in a completely unique place in a unique time form.”
Yesterday, he could perhaps have gone further than his final distance if he had not collided with the buoy marking 100m.
“Everything happens at incredible speed.”
“You look at that buoy getting bigger and bigger until you hit it,” he said.
“It’s a completely unforgettable sensation.”
Kevin Smith took second place after electing to jump today as well. However, his attempt saw him plummet straight into the water, to the alarm of Ron Freeman who instantly called on the nearby support team to jump in the water and help him.
Nevertheless Kevin was unharmed and took his place on the podium.
Organisers said the other three Condor competitors might not have jumped if Edgar had not gone first.
“It was a really quick decision,” Edgar said when receiving his third-place prize.
“I didn’t think a lot I just went for it.”
In the Leonardo Da Vinci class, Sean Frawley travelled from Hong Kong to take part, coming in first place.
He said he was really pleased to have gone the distance this year and when asked what brought him back for the fifth year running said it was ‘the challenge’.
Joel Hicks, from Leicester, has taken part every year of Worthing Birdman in the Kingfisher class.
He took home a prize for his costume this year after jumping on the Sunday.
He was raising money for his charity Always with a Smile.
“It’s fantastic,” he said of taking first place for his costume, “totally unexpected, over the moon.”
“I’ve been doing birdman now since it first came to Worthing. I feel like I’m part of the furniture now and wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
He dedicated his jump to his friend Rob Walton, who passed away on holiday this week.
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