Tunnel Competition Mindset
Ignoring distractions and finding the flow at an Indoor Skydiving meet...
In the run-up to the 3rd FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving at Gravity, Bahrain we asked commentator Regan Tetlow to share his thoughts on the competition…
The Anchor is responsible for the flow of the show, to be fluent in the language of television and in charge of building the atmosphere and filling in the story as the sporting action takes shape. His main responsibility is to the broadcast, you have to step back from the sporting action to maintain an overview of the broadcast. Anchors monitor time-keeping and being the connection to the gallery, Floor Manager and ultimately the Director.
My role is also to monitor the commentary to be a bridge to the public that are not familiar with some sporting technical terms. Whereas, the event specialists or play-by-play commentators focus solely on the sporting action of their specialist discipline.
It seems to have chosen me. I started as a commentator in canopy piloting and from that was asked to get involved in other broadcasts as the anchor role.
I was a DJ in my teens. That’s how I got familiar with presenting and using microphone. I became a full-time skydiver in 2004 and in 2005 was asked to present and commentate the swoop competition on the beach in Empuriabrava, King of Swoop. Then in 2009 I was asked to be the main presenter at the brand-new Dubai International Parachuting Championships, covering all events. It all came from there.
I have seen a massive change since my first commentary. That was the first wind games in 2014. It was just me, a microphone and one camera. We have now progressed to a full outside broadcast.
Having informed specialist commentary is key to a good show. We always try to have experts who not only know that discipline but who can present and be engaging. I am very lucky to work with the best in the field from indoor skydiving, canopy piloting, gliding, ballooning, Wingsuiting, Paragliding, Jetski racing and recently Drone championships.
My overall approach is to get what the Event Organiser or Director wants on the screen. This mainly involves the steady build-up of the overall picture. It’s like starting with a blank canvas and using all the information from competitors to results to paint a picture of the event. It’s about finding stories as they develop and weaving those threads into the overall picture.
I’m always looking for the story. That’s not always who is winning. It could be a tight battle further down the pack, or an athlete with an interesting story, you never know when it’s going to be many things crop up.
Again it’s about identifying the stories. If you start to build the picture then it becomes exciting not only to the audience but to us in the studio as well.It can be a marathon session. But my mother worked in the cotton mill for long shifts – what I do is a privilege.
The best advice I got as a competitor was to just go and do what you can do. There is no point trying to be better than your average. Know your level. Go out there and do it.
I have worked there on two previous occasions. The first Arab cup and the Flight Fighters. My first impression was how friendly everyone was on the staff and how much light and colour there is. It’s really cool place. I’m looking forward to being back.
I’m looking forward to the production. The tunnel have been able to secure EpicTech, who I have worked with before. They are a young, very talented, professional production team who know what works. I’m stoked to be working with them again.
Purely from a production point of view, the secret to success is minute-to-minute planning. Looking at previous successful competitions and what they have done to make the show smooth, professional and engaging.
From a production point of view Gravity have put a lot of effort into the details of the event. Making sure they have all the equipment needed and professional specialists looking after the broadcast. We have had many emails and calls over the summer looking at the finer points of the production to ensure a fantastic result.
That’s a good question. Back in the late 90s my 4 way team was one of the first non-AAA (senior as it then was) to invest into using a coach and tunnel time. That was at the original SkyVenture tunnel in Orlando. UK outdoor skydiving built up to over 70 teams at the nationals. Now, as we know, the numbers this year‘s Nationals were down a lot. There is an interesting discussion happening about that right now.
It has to be at the world meet in Montreal last year. The Facebook live was going viral, an incredible number of people who have never seen tunnel flying before were suddenly watching and commenting live… I always remember one person whose impression of what they were watching changed within four comments and 15 seconds. It went like this…
“WTF IS THIS????”
“This has to be the most stupid sport ever”
“WTF is ACTUALLY GOING ON???”
“Oh to be honest this is pretty cool”
The Olympic Committee is all about taking the sport and making it understandable. We have to ask ourselves what that means. We have to take a good, hard look at each discipline from an outside perspective, and be honest about which elements are interesting, comprehensible and exciting. We could end up with something very different for the Olympics than the competitions we have now. Who knows?
Thank you for asking me for this interview Lesley. It’s always a pleasure to be part of your work.
Pro skydiver. Presenter. Emcee. Actor. Voiceover talent.