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Bungee jumping: What do you Know?

Bungee jumping is a high-adrenaline, extreme-adventure activity that involves jumping from a great height, while connected to a long elastic rope tied to your ankles. It has been popular on a wide scale for about the past three decades.

People of all ages enjoy the rush of excitement as they jump from tall buildings, cranes and bridges. For the even more extreme adventurer, there's always the opportunity to jump from a moving object, such as a hot air balloon or a helicopter!

Bungee Jumping

© esalienko / Adobe Stock

As the person free-falls, the elastic cord stretches, sending the jumper plummeting towards the ground. Then, the cord rebounds sharply and the momentum sends them rocketing upwards again at high speed.

They continue bouncing up and down on the end of the giant elastic rope until the momentum is spent and they eventually come to a halt. This may look terrifying, but bungee jumping has a good safety record overall.

Reputable bungee operations are run by experienced and well-trained professionals. They use the most reliable, high-quality equipment and are governed by stringent safety procedures. Every care is taken to prevent something from going wrong.


Where did bungee jumping start?

Bungee jumping was based on "land diving", an ancient manhood ritual practiced in the Pacific islands. Young men's bravery was tested on Pentecost Island, in Vanuatu, when they were required to jump off high wooden stands, up to 80 feet tall, supported by only vine leaves attached to their ankles.

The vines were measured so that the young man's hair brushed the ground when he jumped! It was a test of his courage, as the elasticity of the vine would stop his head from hitting the ground with literally just inches to spare.

In the UK, bungee jumping became an adrenaline-fuelled activity for entertainment in the late 1970s, when the first jump was held off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. On 1st April 1979, members of the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club jumped from the 245ft high bridge and won massive media publicity.

In the United States, daredevils jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. In the second half of the 1980s, the first commercial bungee jumps were held in Queenstown, New Zealand, on the shores of the South Island.

New Zealand is considered a haven for extreme sports and local entrepreneur Alan John "AJ" Hackett attempted the first commercial jump there in 1986. He also bungee jumped from various bridges and other tall structures, including Greenhithe Bridge in Auckland and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

He became known as the "father of bungee jumping", and it was largely due to his efforts that the sport became popular all over the world. In modern times, special harnesses have been used for commercial bungee jumps for safety reasons.


Why are bungee cords made of rubber?

The majority of bungee ropes are manufactured from natural rubber. A number of strands of rubber are bound together by a fabric covering for strength and elasticity.

The same cord is used by the armed forces to absorb the shock from parachutes when dropping off heavy cargo. The military used the long, heavy-duty rope before it was snapped up for use in bungee jumping.

According to some sources, the term "bungee" was invented in Britain and was based on the old term for erasers. The India rubber used to make erasers was referred to as "India-bungie" in days gone by.

Natural rubber has excellent extensibility and it is very resilient, regaining its original shape even when it has been stretched to the maximum. It has amazing tensile strength and can be extended while bearing a heavy load without snapping.

For these reasons, it's ideal for bungee cords. The military specifications for bungee cords permits them to be made from either natural or synthetic rubber. Natural rubber is usually used for the bungee jumping cords, with a fabric covering braided from nylon or cotton yarn.

The natural rubber is prepared and extruded into long lengths that are between 0.09 inches and 0.12 inches thick and up to 100 feet long. The ends of the long ribbons are brought together and fed through a braiding machine. This passes them through a roller to squeeze them into a bundle. The cords must pass stringent quality control processes.


Where are the best UK bungee jumps?

The UK's highest bungee jump isn't for the faint-hearted, as it towers 400 feet tall! The famous Chepstow Bungee Jump invites participants to leap off a cliff!

People queuing up to make the leap of faith at the National Diving and Activity Centre can whet their appetite by watching other adventurers make their way to the top of the jump via a giant crane.

The activity is supervised by professional instructors, who ensure participants are properly strapped up before jumping. There's a chance to marvel at the breathtaking views before taking the plunge.

The second-highest bungee jumps, which held the record at 300 feet before the Chepstow jump was launched, are based at Tatton Park in Knutsford and Bray Lake in Windsor. They are both operated by the UK Bungee Club and participants can jump forwards or backwards.

Organisers of bungee jumps all over the world have an eco-friendly outlook and remind daredevils of their golden rule - to leave their environment exactly as they found it. This means not dropping any litter and not leaving any reminders of their experience, such as writing graffiti messages on the surrounding rocks.

Rubber is a versatile product that has many uses, aside from leisure activities such as bungee jumping. Coruba is one of the leading UK suppliers of numerous rubber products, such as safety mats, rubber sheeting, gaskets, seals and more. For information, please email info@coruba.co.uk or give us a call on 01702 560194.

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