Coping with Competition
Using competition butterflies to make your performance better, not worse...
The well renowned trio organized an amazing and successful event. For the fourth year in a row Sequential Games put together a team of amazing skydivers towards a very challenging goal over the pretty beautiful landscapes of the Czech Republic.
The venue was Skydive Pink Klatovy, which once was described to me by a good friend as “Paradise”. Now I know what he meant and I couldn´t agree more. The Pink Skyvan Fleet, huge grass landing areas, tents for packing, a cool circus tent for debriefs and a friendly staff are more than any skydiver could ever ask for. If you fancy staying on site, they have comfortable rooms, a bunkhouse and a camping area. There are two delis at the dropzone, and a restaurant just a few steps away. Long break between jumps? Don´t worry just hop into the pool!
Skydive Pink Klatovy once was described to me by a good friend as "Paradise
So, the date arrived and although some luggage didn’t make the connecting flights, we all got here -106 skydivers ready to be challenged and build this intricate formation. The Klatovy 17 Rings they called it, but we later found out that it was inspired by a mandala known as the Flower of Life. There were seventeen six-way donuts linked together surrounding one another.
We all knew the plan; we got the manual for the dive a few days in advance. It could be noticed that everyone had studied it. Anyway, they put big printouts up outside the tent just in case. And off we went, it was time to get to work. But the first day is all about the training jumps. We divided into three groups. The base, which was the seven rings in the middle got together. Then, the five rings from the left made one group and the remaining five from the right made the third group.
Unfortunately, Milko couldn’t join us. And he was devastated for it, but he is working in a top-secret project which EVERYBODY KNEW ABOUT 😊. It was the kind of amazing opportunity that NOBODY should miss. His mission, should he choose to accept it; was to train some agent called Ethan Hunt. Whomever he may be! Patrick took over and led the base, and Herman ran Patrick’s sector. We had world class acts Andrey Veselov, Gary Wainwright and Henny Wiggers on camera.
Dieter’s and Herman’s group went first (the outsides). The jumps looked really neat from the ground. They got both groups together for the third jump. It didn’t go very well for us in the base. Our first jump was a little messy, with a lot of fall rate issues. But we knew what had to be done. A few adjustments here, a couple more there; and there it was: a solid base in the next jump. By the third jump we even made a second point; just for the fun of it.
We had an event dinner planned for that day at the drop zone. We had a great evening! As Dieter says, we are like a family; and that was a pretty good family dinner.
The next day we were all eager for the big jump. We loaded the planes and went for it. It was´t a bad jump but it was not great either. It was the first time the outer rings saw the real base. Therefore, as you can imagine, there were several issues. But did I mention that this was a great team? Everybody knew what had to be done. And so, we went for the second try. The improvement was huge, 12 rings had built nicely and 4 of the remaining seemed to be building correctly and in great shape.
We earned a break. Enough time to go for a swim or have a nice lunch. But it might not have been long enough, for the next skydive was rubbish. So, another long break we had; but apparently it didn’t help us either. The base funneled, followed by a grip frenzy and the dive went annoyingly bad again. I cannot tell what happened. Maybe we all thought we had it and we got complacent. We didn’t even debrief that last jump. There was no point. Instead, they played for us the video of the second jump of the day; which so far had been our finest. The captains know what they are doing, and the team needed some words. Dieter and Patrick had the perfect ones to put the right mindset on us.
It is well known that at the Klatovy 100way challenge the magic happens on the third day. We were supposed to meet at the briefing area at 08.30hrs geared up and ready to go. The weather was a little dodgy and some of us didn’t think we’d go up. But there was no announcement and our instructions were to meet in the briefing area with gear on ready to go! So, we did.
It is well known that at the Klatovy 100way challenge the magic happens on the third day.
There was an amazing vibe going on at the dirt dive, as if we were all tuned in. It was very silent. Everybody was focused and the sky began to clear up. We could hear the engines starting and we boarded right away. The climb took a while, but it was calm all the way. The red light came and we stood up. Then the light turned white and the door got opened. And the green light came. It was time to go!
I dived out of the lead plane and got to my slot as I looked the sequence of the build going smoothly as planned. It was my turn to turn and take my grip. The cross reference was very important to keep the shape of the fragile 6way donuts. It was very hard work; but you could feel the help of your teammates docked behind you. It was hard to know for sure, but we could feel the magic that Patrick likes to talk about. My group and I tracked away in the second wave and we were all euphoric. When we landed, many of us were shouting loudly and high-fiving. We couldn’t confirm it, but it sure felt that we had done it. We all gave our best and had an amazing skydive.
I was packing when I heard Patrick giving an announcement. This time we would not debrief each sector separately; we would debrief altogether instead. We all knew then; we had done it… And you could hear cries of joy everywhere. We had the Flower of Life - the Klatovy’s 17 Rings - in our pocket. It was official, we all are now the Lords of the Rings.
we all are now the Lords of the Rings
We saw the video and the jump wasn’t perfect. At some point the base slid and rotated a few degrees. But the team was tuned up. The approaching trajectories of everybody moved with the base, as if we were all one single piece already. If the background didn’t give us away, we could easily say that it was the camera men who rotated. It was an amazing team job. Everybody did their bit, and we have sweet pictures to prove it!
Mission accomplished! The job was done… but we still had 6 more jumps to do and the fun had to keep going, and the team needed to remain challenged. The organizers thought a two-point 106way with complete breaks would do the trick. And they were damn right about it. A TRUE SEQUENTIAL!
It was time to get to work again. We kept the same exit order from the 17 Rings, but the formation was brand new. Yet, it was simple. Everybody facing straight in this time. The goal was the complete break sequential.
We jumped and got the first point with plenty of time so the key was given. Everybody let go. It was an amazing feeling to fly a no contact 106way. We have great pictures of it. But after the pictures were taken; it was as if we entered a grip frenzy mode. Chaos. No second point for us! Our second attempt went a little better, but still not good enough. For the third attempt, we tried something different. The points were inverted. The second point became our first one. But that didn’t do the trick either. It was worse in fact; there was a huge funnel in the base. It was a big mess! I guess at this point what we all wanted was to celebrate. After all we had built the Rings!
The time came then to get our well-deserved event t-shirts. The group photo-session followed up.
We wanted the sequential and there were only 3 jumps left, so a few changes were made in the formation. Also, we were now only 104. Siân had to fly back and somebody was grounded. Herman had been a great safety officer and he wouldn´t allow anything risky getting by him. We were all very grateful.
The weather wasn’t as good as it had been with us this time; but the weather hold was a godsend for some of us still with a headache from last night’s celebration. About two hours later we had our window and went for it. Once again, it was a beautiful skydive. Everything went so smoothly. The formation was quiet and perfectly on level. Flying it felt so peaceful. But we didn’t complete the second point, we were only a few seconds away. If we’d gone to full altitude we would have nailed it for sure. The weather was lousy the rest of the day and we couldn’t jump any more. But there was another event dinner planned at the drop zone for this day, and of course, we had a great time!
the weather hold was a godsend for some of us still with a headache from last night’s celebration
The final day of the event arrived. We had been close, but no 2-pointer yet. Two more attempts to go. And again, we got that magical feeling. All the way from the dirt dive. Everything was so peaceful. We went for it, and again: a beautiful skydive. It felt heavenly to fly it. I couldn’t see much but I suspected we had it. Then I saw Patrick through the formation and my suspicions were confirmed. Patrick wears a Kiss helmet, a fan favorite. The Kiss truly is a great helmet, but I’m sorry Tony; not even the Kiss’ visor was big enough to see the entire smile in Patrick's face. Oh boy, he was really enjoying himself!
not even the Kiss’s visor was big enough to see the entire smile in Patrick's face
The debrief confirmed it. We had built a 2-point 104way with complete breaks and there was still one jump to do…
But we were like junkies. Two points won’t do the trick any more. The only option was to go for three. Our last jump was amazing again. We got the same amazing feeling during the jump. Unfortunately, we remained only two grips short of that third point, see above video. Still, it was an amazing way to end an incredible event.
106 skydivers from 21 different countries, a great camera team, an amazing dropzone and a great crew of pilots. All of it was the recipe for success put together by our great captains. I can´t wait till the next year to do it again…