Coping with Competition
Using competition butterflies to make your performance better, not worse...
Only three decades ago people would have been proud of flying 5 different formations of 6-way in one jump. Doing the same with more than 10 skydivers was only in the fields of the imagination. Seeing 8 jumpers in a movie doing four points in a row left us speechless… we dreamt of 100 folks flying together in a single jump.
As it goes with dreams, they become part of the mutual consciousness. As skydiving developed, more and more of those dreams became reality.
In Germany over the last two decades, former German 4-way champions Dieter (DK) Kirsch and Thomas (Spieli) Spielvogel have organized many big way events that also became German Records. Among them a 122-way out of one single jumpship (Antonov 12), a 200-way in national colors, as well as the present 214-way. Last year they started with a group of 71 to build a big-way sequential record with a 3-point success.
As things always have to be bigger and better, they invited this year 86 skydivers from all over Germany to top their previous record. When the participants received the ‘Dive Manual’ by email 1 week before the attempt we realized, that they meant business! In 4 pages were the slots, seating position, exit, dive, approach and tracking group patterns were minutely explained – not leaving a single question mark within us!
A formation with a 40-way base, surrounded by 8 small sectors with 5 to 6 people was to be achieved. Of course, some basic training had to be done first. Therefore the group was divided into the base 40-way and two small groups of roughly 22-24. The base showed clear fast and effective work throughout the initial jumps. The small groups instead challenged their participants in being very slow, so that they could get accustomed to a low fall-rate. Naturally after those jumps some suits were changed or sweatshirts added.
As it is imperative to have the right people invited, it is also important to have them in the right slot, meeting their capability as well as their experience. The entire preparation for the jump proved to be very effective, since all training was completed that morning.
After only four jumps the group was brought together to dirtdive an 86-way. Here, we were told not to go any faster; rather, to take our time, to see how things go… the goal of the dive, to learn how our approach and the base looks from above in reality. Since no-one felt any pressure, the first dive was very promising.
Then with only a short break, we went up again. Our sixth dive this day, the second to 16.000ft, with oxygen. To our surprise everybody still had the energy to be very concentrated and smooth in the air. We completed this formation and held it shortly before the break-off alarm.
Unfortunately the weather forecasted unpromising clouds and rain for the next day. But this event took place in Skydive Pink Klatovy, Czech Republic; a place that is famous for its great dropzone and many Skyvans. Also the weather there seems to be very in favor to our sport, perhaps their gods like us! Many times those weather Apps as well as official forecasts have been proven wrong. A small hole appeared at 5 pm and we were able to proceed with two more jumps, checking out how we would do with the second point. Again we succeeded from 16 grand and even held the second point for about 5 seconds. So, that was a new German Sequential Record!
One must point out, that due to present FAI rules only a certain percentage of the formation has to show separation before transferring to the next point. We had 8 subgroups that had to perform a maneuver. Those moves fortunately do not have to be simultaneously shown as separate, but must be correct within themselves, showing the appropriate separation and move to the next point as planned.
Apart from the fact that we, after only 8 dives, completed an 85 way with two points, everybody felt that this team had something special. Everyone was flying exactly as written in the book. Not overtaking anyone, being in the right sector and, not least, being precise with the tracking groups, thus making even the separation safe and a lot of fun.
Sometime back I heard some people saying: “flying with big groups is boring; like, dive, dive, dive, wait, dock, turn 180, track, track, track, open your canopy”. Being part of this group will definitely change this paradigm. By experiencing over and over the same precision and discipline, we all improved our flying, especially for our slot in this particular skydive. This makes the time to do some extra sequential, once the first point is completed. “The Twins” for example (two skydivers always in the same dress and mood) docked on each skydive even more simultaneously. Seeing the whole picture and other people smiling, while diving or flying in the formation, is an unmatched joy with a huge social sharing.
On the third day again there was no weather for us. The little summer 2016 was fooling around with the other seasons. The fourth day however declared itself promising, so we started at 08:00, not to miss any chances. That was tricky, because at the same time a French big-way, Pete Allum’s 30-way as well as a “Canopy piloting open tournament” with 55 competitors was taking place. But the Klatovy dropzone is remarkably effective at separating the groups with their different needs and getting them in the air. They sent 80 Cessna loads and over 20 Skyvan loads as well as the big way groups that went up. There was not one single minute without a canopy in the sky. Lovely!
This last day was very exhausting; four jumps from 18,000ft and one from 20,000 feet. This is a sport for well-trained people! Apparently the summer had ended ‘the fool mode’ and it was blue skies, sunny and hot, hot hot! If there really is a favourable sky-goddess somewhere up there, she must have been in a very positive mood – as were we. From jump to jump, the performance went better and better. Bringing us to a clear 3-point National Record sequential skydive on jump number one, with 84 people
3 point 84 way Record - Left Trail
Jump number two - to no surprise - was quite a fail. Skydiving is a brain sport and with a new record in mind, people were flying as if they had beer and wine already. Three funnel spots all over the formation happened pretty soon after exit, which resulted in a kind of “let’s get the hell out of dodge” and “track for your life” situation. Fortunately everything went fine. Number three was a big success with 83 people and 4 points, and again some time left for another point – if only another streamer sign would have been at hand to key the fifth move. But, still another German Record in the bag!
4-point 84-way Record - Lead aircraft
After a well-deserved break on jump number four and five the German team then showed again their brilliant performance, almost and very close to the fifth point (only 2 grips missing on the last point).
5-point 84-way attempt - 2 grips off
German Sequential Record
Skydive Pink Klatovy
Of course, all of this could not have happened if the pilots would not have done such an excellent performance of their own – flying every single time in absolutely the same position, relative to the other planes. Altogether this was an incredible and unmatched event, hopefully to be repeated next year and - sure thing - bigger and better!
As the record formations were similar we chose to show pictures of the 4-point record, to show the sequence. You can see more photos and video on Sequential Dr's Facebook page