It’s the third and final day of the Gale of the Dead, and today the wind will reach its strongest peak. Most Buentoillitants spend today indoors if it is possible, and are provided with safety equipment to keep them from flying off if they are required to work outside. This would normally be a source of concern for most people, but there’s something about the Gale, perhaps the warmth it brings, that makes everyone relaxed. Whilst most people are still relatively sensible despite this relaxation, some do participate in very risky activities. Perhaps the riskiest activity available to Buentoillitants is the Festival of the Longest Jump, which takes place down at the docks, specifically on Expeditionary Pier.
Expeditionary Pier juts out past the docks and into the Bay of Buentoille, and it mainly resembles a long wooden walkway at this time of year. During the summer, sellers of chips, ice-cream and doughnuts will set up their stalls on the Pier, but today it would not be a wise place for them at all. The Pier was originally designed as another dock, for the legendary tallships that the Great Expedition set out to attract for trade. As they never materialised it was turned over to its modern function.
Today, members of the Fraternity of Adrenaline, and others of a reckless mentality, gather at the Pier, where they tie themselves to the handrails for safety. Many will come dressed in colourful Lycra outfits with pieces of fabric that spans the space between their arms and legs, or large coats covered in feathers, or will have attached a great number of helium balloons to themselves. Many are dragged up to the end of the pier in aerodynamic side-cars so that their outfits aren’t blown to pieces prematurely.
When it is their turn, these colourful figures will detach themselves from the railings, or step out of their side-car, and then take a running jump off the end of the pier. Assuming they have timed the jump right with a strong gust of wind, contestants can expect to comfortably exceed 100 metres, although the average is thought to be about 124 metres. Issues surround the exact measurement of the jumps, as prior to the invention of the laser distance measuring tool people tended to estimate based on well-known landmarks. This perhaps is indicative of a certain devil-may-care attitude surrounding the event; rules banning the use of ‘non-clothing surface area aids’ (for example, a paracute) are laxly enforced, and nobody seems particularly competitive about who got further, as long as they all were able to jump much further than is normally possible.
That said, there is often a certain amount of veneration of those who jump the furthest. The longest properly recorded jump was 286 metres, by Estelle Strivoille in 1996, who was aided by a feathered jumpsuit with four separate wing attachments. The achievement is perhaps only bested by Douglas Wintersheim’s jump of 1845, which was performed entirely naked, apparently reaching ‘almost the other side of the Bay,’ having been ‘shot like a cannonball by a huge gust of wind that broke the bonds of three others, pushing them into the water and causing minor injuries.’ Since we have little more information than this, there is no way of verifying which was longer.
When the rain begins to fall in gushing torrents tonight, the jumpers will take shelter in the nearby pub, The Ship Has Lost Its Cat, where two photographs hang above the hearth, one of Strivoille leaning against the bar, still resplendent in her feathered jumpsuit, despite being clearly soaked to the bone. The other is of Wintersheim smoking a pipe, a towel around his muscular shoulders, a chair back tastefully preserving his dignity.
Other festivals happening today:
The Annual Buentoilliçan Tabletop Games Gathering
The Creed of Asto’s Festival of the Cleansing Rain
The Guild of Rope Sellers’ Day of Discounts