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UK 4-way Nationals – Halfway Point

Words by Lesley Gale

FS 4-way Nationals 2016
NFTO  — Image by Simon Brentford

It’s been a frustrating morning at Skydive Hibaldstow, with the winds hovering just under and just over the limits, leading to a multitude more ‘Gear up’ calls than boarding calls. The first lift took off and jumped successfully across three planes, but the second was put on stand-by, still with gear on, where they waited for 10 minutes before being stood down. After three false alarms the three lift 2s eventually got airborne, only for the next cycle to be on hold. By 3pm, after 6 theoretical hours of jumping, only one round of AAA had been completed – whereas last night two rounds of AAA were completed in 2 hours!

Eventually the weather cooperated and the engine of Hibaldstow began to work in its intended manner, beginning to sing. The deep roar of Turbine G92 Dorniers taking off every 5 minutes was the drumbeat setting the rhythm, which the whole dropzone was following. Manifest calling the dance, teams walking the dives, creeping, kitting up, mocking it up, buses coming and going to the emplaning point and landing area. Planes, canopies, landings; smiles, nerves, banter: focus. Judges judging, teams watching, scores on the doors to much applause. It’s like looking at the working of an ants’ nest, with so many scurrying bodies, all individual yet in harmony, carrying out some bizarre yet undefined ritual. The frustration of the last two days has given way to delighted action, this is what we came here to do. The atmosphere is brilliant!

[There takes off another Dornier![

FS 4-way Nationals 2016 Skydive Hibaldstow Hib
Image by Rob Lloyd

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… the battle in AAA behind Satori could barely be more thrilling! See yesterday’s update for the first two rounds - but in summary, it was close at the top. 4Mula entered the day in second, one point ahead of Vision. In round 3 (19, H, E, 7) they scored an identical 22 (to Satori’s 26), well clear of Eclipse and NFTO on 19, which was also the score of Chimera, who are having a fantastic meet, and Phoenix… H4O, Helios and ACM all scored 17, showing a very evenly matched field.

Round 4 was a working jump; 12, 11, 16, a slot switcher and a pretty slow jump. Satori scored a 15, fairly early in the judging order. Hmmm.. would anyone equal or improve on that? Joey had said 4Mula’s 16th was most probably just out of time - and if it was in the grip would be out of sight due to the angle - which turned out to be the case, to a massive ‘oh’ from the crowd. This massive, purpose-built clubhouse is the perfect place to watch the judging with a super-social and sporting atmosphere, teams hi-fiving and congratulating and cheering (or jeering) their rivals.

[Mmmmeeeeooooowwww! Dorner takes off!]

FS 4-way Nationals 2016 Skydive Hibaldstow Hib
Image by Rob Lloyd

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Round 5 is a fast round: N, J, 4, G; a fast block and a great dive for a confident point flyer. N is not the easiest exit so this will favour trained teams, who will also have worked on their random sequences. It’s also one of the two dives in the meet that teams will be looking to score highly and bring up their average on an otherwise pretty slow draw. Joey Jones, player coach of said 4Mula would be looking for around a 24 or even 26 on this, let’s see, I’m watching the judging of round 5 now…

[another Dornier goes noisily airborne]

Ow1!!! Antimatter picked up 8 busts, scoring a 15 that ‘could have been’ a 23 ! SkyFool lived up to their name, building an incorrect formation. Eros did a nice 16, ACM a fluid 17, Chimera never quite found their rhythm (in the clouds!) but powered through to 18, equalled by Phoenix, Phoenix, who have not jumped together since September last year, nice one guys! Eclipse upped the ante with an absolute beaut of a dive scoring 22. Many of the teams are jumping through a bit of weather, bad luck for them but that’s the way the competition cookie crumbles!

[background roar of G92 taking off…]

Next, 4Mula… they look good but pick up a bust and have a couple of glitches on the front, where a slight vertical to build the N bit back with some burbling.. they hit 20, a good score but not what they were hoping for. Who would have thought Eclipse would beat them on this round? Eclipse trains on a shoestring (tiny budget), doing minimal jumps a year but has managed to keep the exact same line-up for 7 years and 700 jumps. NFTO did a nice 20 - but that will have hurt, they were level with Eclipse and now slipped 2 points back. Vision 99 had a sense of speed with their jump but perhaps that was their downfall as they ended at 19, one point behind 4Mula, and are now level again, at the halfway point. Wow, this fight is impossible to call! I love competition!!!

[Vrrrrooom! There takes off another G92…]

So, now Satori … the dive has a flow, a rhythm. Although it’s a mostly random dive, they are not shapes that go well together, it’s a clumsy puzzle somehow but Satori make it look elegant, like a ballroom dancing couple flowing through a difficult dance with aplomb. They have a similar sense of urgency as Vision, but supremely focussed onto sharp keys and grip releases and a controlling the close of the 4. Yet, amazingly, when the score shows in the door, it stops at 22, the same as Eclipse. Way to go Eclipse!

FS 4-way Nationals 2016 Eclipse creeping
Eclipse

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Satori still look comfortable in front with a ten point lead at the halfway point, but it’s been amazing to see the other teams snapping on their heels, inspired by this great British Team to push themselves to a point where they can equal or even better their heroes on a jump – which will inspire them to push even further! No doubt, this will also be a spur in Satori’s side when they are training next week for the World Championships soon to come in Chicago. They have not jumped together as a team for a month before the Nationals, seeing their long term goal (best performance at world meet) as being best achieved by training after this competition, using it as a stimulus – as Julia ‘Foxy’ Swallow explained in an interview on the Skydive Mag Facebook page.

[Ggggrrrrrrrr! G92 has lift-off]

Final update, an hour later: teams started round 6 but not all teams jumped as weather closed in, We are waiting for the judging of these rounds now. Latest scores can be found on the InTime website. Wheels off 07:45 tomorrow morning, Monday 22 August 2016. 

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Vision 99 FS 4-way Nationals 2016 Skydive Hibaldstow
Vision 99  — Image by Rob Lloyd

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