Wingsuit Progression Series
A series covering WS skydiving, from your FFC through Exits, Skydiving with Others & Safety, by Matt Gerdes & Taya Weiss...
This is the first article in a series on 8-way by Martial Ferré, World Champion (4- and 8-way), Team France. First he explains his KISS system to make 8-way slots easy to get your head around. In subsequent articles Martial will cover the secret stuff for the blocks.
When, in 2011, I started to run my annual 8-way Tunnel camps in ParacleteXP for people who had absolutely no knowledge in 8-way, one of my main concerns (and primary big task) was to give to the campers a good way to learn the program. I had to find a technique to introduce people to the main standard structure of an 8-way team so that they could better understand the logic of engineering formations. Making general simple rules in 8-way, which is so complex, is pretty challenging. What I had to do was to imagine a color system and an identification system to make the 8-way dive pool looking clearer to them.
Making simple rules in 8-way, which is so complex, is pretty challenging
Some material published on 8-way choose the single color system to identify each teammate in an 8-way team. This individual color system never satisfied me very well. It doesn’t show clearly the main standard structure that I imagine for an 8-way team. I wanted to simplify the pictures and make them more looking like in 4-way.
Here follows what I have imagined to present to people in a coaching guide that I wrote in 2011 for my Tunnel campers, and have used ever since, with great success. This year for example, we entered five 8-way teams in the Paraclete Indoor Championships. Veloce QFR4 took bronze with a 21.7 average, and all the senior teams scored above 17.
Definition: this is the main set-up that clearly identifies the different slots/positions in an 8-way team.
We can split the 8 teammates into two positions: 4 insiders and 4 outsiders:-
The 4 insiders – They are the ones who fly the closest to the center point of the formation. They are the 4-way center which is the bulk of most of the 8-way formations. Most of the 8-way formations are built around a typical 4-way formation in the center (donut, bipole, diamond, compress …). They are a 4-way team within an 8-way team.
The 4 outsiders – They are the ones who fly outside of the formation. They dock on the 4-way center. They are completing the formations on the 4-way centre.
Like in 4-way, standard sub divisions in 8-way are the 2 way pieces. But some of the blocks will use 3 way and 4-way pieces too.
Like in 4-way, pieces are joining teammates that will do blocks together most part of the time. It might be obvious. Nevertheless, in 8-way, it is not guaranteed that you will always fly with the same piece partner. Pieces might be mixed due to some specific blocks that require these changes. Be ready to sometimes leave your dear piece partner! But it’s still possible to determine regular pieces to make things clearer for newbies.
Even if it’s not 100% the case, let’s say that a 2 way piece is mostly made of one “insider” and one “outsider”. In other words, each guy in the 4-way centre will be connected with one guy from the outside. It may look obvious but you will see later when you will know the 8-way program better that this set up rule is not 100% respected and it can be sometimes confusing. There are some blocks where 2 centre guys can fly together as piece partners (for example: block 5).
In each piece, I have identified the “inside” guy with an “A” on the back and the “outside” guy with a “B”.
Like in 4-way, we have 4 different positions occupied by the 4 pieces. Instead of assigning an individual color to each teammate, I have assigned each piece a standard color.
The front piece mostly occupies the very far end of the point of the formations. On exit, in a left hand door, this piece front floats. “Yellow A” will be the point of the 4-way centre formation built by the “insiders”.
The front right piece occupies the right and front side of the formations. On exit, this piece front dives. Blue B will do some point job at the front. “Blue A” occupies the right side of the 4-way centre.
The rear left piece mostly occupies the left and rear side of the formations. On exit, this piece rear floats. “Red A” occupies the left side of the 4-way centre.
The tail piece mostly occupies the back end of the formations, mostly called the tail. “Green” A flies the tail of the 4-way centre. On the exit, “Green A” is the rear diver and “Green B” is the last rear floater.
Here are some reference pictures that could explain those code names.
The ordering may not be obvious for you now. If you look at the exit frame below, notions of “front”, “rear”, “left” and “right” will maybe appear clearer.
See the picture of an exit frame below. If you look at the color codes you will see that we have the Yellow and Blue pieces occupying the front of the exit formation when Red and Yellow occupy the rear of the exit formation. Blue piece occupies the right side of the formation and Red piece occupies the left side.
I use another reference formation to explain the standard set up of an 8-way team: the “Stairstep diamond” (Formation B) shows clearly the different positions that the 4 pieces occupy most part of the time in 8-way formations. I use this formation as a reference standard formation, since this formation really looks like the exit frame.
Shapes of 8-way formations are pretty straight and symmetric. Axis of flight is pretty predictable and consistent. Most of the 8-way formations cannot be really cheated and need to be flown shaped almost like they are designed on the paper.
Formations in 8-way are mostly made of donuts, bipoles, compressed or diamonds in the center. These formations are using perpendicular or parallel axis to be built. We could summarize the most useful axes in 8-way are like the ones used by sailors to tell where the wind comes from. See below.
When I fly 8-way, I really have these 8 axes in my mind to set up the formations. They should cover all the axes that will be needed when building formations in 8-way.
Formations in 8-way are pretty big compared to 4-way. Building formations correctly in 8-way will depend on the capacity of the 4-way centre to manage the perfect axis of flight. A 5° angle mistake in 4-way would probably mean half a meter extra move for the outside people, when in 8-way this might mean one or 2 meters for the outside people. The 4-way centre has to be really precise when it sets the axis. Yellow A (front) and Green A (rear) are mostly in charge of setting up the right axis to make the shortest moves for the others. Sometimes Blue A or Red A will have to do it (Eg, block 9).
A 5° angle mistake in 4-way would probably mean half a meter extra move for the outside people when in 8-way this might mean 2 meters!
Yellow A needs to be very accurate to fly this slot since he is outfacing most part of the time. Yellow A is like the GPS of the team. It’s one of the most difficult slot to fly in an 8-way team for sure.
Red A & Blue A will be the pacemakers of the team since they are most part of the time in charge of keying formations.
Green A will be the rudder of the ship since he participates with yellow A to set up the axis of the formations (especially in the long formations). He has a great sight on what’s going on at the front. He will key also some formations so his role can be also like a pacemaker.
Yellow B is the far front of the formations. This slot requires great skills. It requires flying precise outfacing 70 % of the time. Managing level and axis will be challenging at this slot.
Blue B is a great slot, pretty dynamic with a lot of 180° turns. It requires being precise on outfacing positions too.
Green B is the far rear of the formations in 8-way. Dealing with the unexpected changes of axis or level will be a big task. But it’s fun. This slot requires moving fast with advantage of having a greater sight of the formation than the front.
Red B is a great dynamic slot too with less outfacing stuff than blue B but still some.
Enjoy 8-way !
Next week Martial will look at the technical information for one of the blocks, using the color-coding ID system as explained. Stay tuned!