Maja Kuczynska – Bigger than the Sky
Stunning routine by Maja Kuczyńska
Halfway through the second weekend the 4-way Nationals completed. The unfriendly weather gods were thwarted by the slick Hibaldstow machine making use of any chinks in the clouds to claw through the meet, round by round.
Competitors worked with the management to get the meet done, taking short calls, some iffy weather and dealing with infinite patience with the many ‘kit-on-kit-off-kit-on’ situations. We trust this dropzone, we all want to get the meet done, and if weather conditions aren’t ideal, it’s generally the same for everyone. Sometimes luck plays a part in competition (mostly, you make your own luck!) and getting worse or better conditions than your rivals is all part of the game.
Four teams entered the VFS. Taking the gold with a very respectable 69 points, an 8.6 average and some impressive skydives were Omni 99; congratulations to Tim Gaines, Gregory Lucas, Sarah Boyed, Martin Roberson. Omni started out as Tequila in 2014 Nationals as a scratch team. They are ex 4-way flat flyers, mostly from BCPA , with some super ninjas in their team. Omni 99 changed their name from Tequila to help sponsorship – but the team’s trademark is still suicide tequilas (for the uninitiated, you snort the salt, drink the tequila and squeeze the lime in your eye!). Omni 99 are supported by Dunkeswell drop zone (which has a Beech 99, hence the name). They have done some serious training .. but don’t take themselves too seriously – they were doing suicide tequilas Saturday night!
Taking silver with a total of 45 points averaging 5.6 were QFX; Paul Cooper, Weed Stoodley, Michael Wilson-Roberts, Ale Daniel & Peter Hutchinson (alternate). QFX, our British VFS team for many years, has a new line up. The original was Ally Milne Pete Dennett Gary Crisp and Paul Cooper; now the only original flyer is Paul. It’s Weed’s 2nd year in the team, as for Glenn Philips and Pete were in last year. They are still sorting out their line-up, will likely be another change after nationals.
In bronze position were Excite 96 (Roy Castleman, Philip Webley, Wendy Watkins, Jim Squires) with 33 points over 8 rounds.
In fourth position were AC:DC (named after the initials of their original team members), who entered the first weekend but had to withdraw, not being able to do the second weekend of Nationals. They are a newish team with just 19 jumps and a few hours tunnel. The lovely lads from AC:DC wanted to encourage more VFS teams to enter. They said “VFS is a route to get yourselves known and thereby get on big-ways. It’s a great platform for learning. When you’re on big-ways and get pulled around a lot you have to know how to fly strongly. Learning VFS will do that for you. Flying 4-way in the tunnel is relatively cheap - and you have a big platform to work inside. The UK needs more VFS teams. We see them at tunnels but it would be great to see these teams turn up and make a bigger Nationals. AC:DC put their money where their mouths are as they came here without having done all of the blocks in the air! They scored a couple of zeroes with these tricky blocks and challenging exits but were happy to put some scores on the board, and added to the vibe. They want to ask QFX to organise some more Scrambles night for VFS, the ones ran have been excellent meeting place to find teammates, to get coaching, and generally network. Thanks QFX!
This was a massive achievement for Hibaldstow as they swept the podium with all local homegrown teams, trained by Stu Ferguson, nice one mate! A prominent figure in skydiving from his early BCPA days, Stubert loves life, skydiving is his passion and he spreads that infectious energy to everyone he meets.
Fat Birds Can’t Fly (my favourite team name) took bronze (Andy Eady, Dean Masters, Dawn Conrardy, Kane Jackson with Sam Cavendish on camera). These guys are a riot, no holds barred! They spent more money on merchandise than they have on jumps! They have Fat Birds mugs, pens, iPhone covers, beer labels, cider, flags, wristbands, you name it, the DZ is suddenly full of Fat Birds! They are super rookies as mostly team, members have just got their FS1s, they have about 20 jumps together. In silver medal position, four points ahead of Fat Birds were Trojan Rabbits also coached by Stubert, who put up a great performance under pressure. Well done John Welsh, Ryan Logan, Emma Reynolds, John Andrews and Jordan Simcoe on camera.
Taking gold with a healthy lead of 9 points were Lightning Ducks (John Norrington, Daniel Hayward, Shona Peacock, Kieran Tuffin), if their jumpsuits had been as hi-vis as their T-shirts that might have come in useful in the cloud! ;-) The Ducks are a great success story, as they haven’t trained so much, they have done just 50 jumps together as they struggled for dates in their first year together. Two of the Ducks got ‘accidentally’ drunk on the first Saturday night - they played met roulette and won! Nice one Quackers!
A shoutout to two teams who couldn’t return the second weekend but were looking in contention for a medal. Fourgasm, from Beccles, got together, did 10 jumps and 2 hours of tunnel. They were in second place when they had to quit. Fourgasm had a great time, and would like to stay together and come back next year for some unfinished business! Pajama Pumas got together as a scratch team for the first UK Skydiving League (UKSL) meet of the year at Langar. They scored one point that the entire UKSL, launching perfect stars but couldn’t get back together after releasing… they were triumphant to finally score a single point. Since then the Pumas have entered every UKSL going and were on a 6-point average when they withdrew – what a difference! It just shows the value of training and how much you can improve in a single season. They are coached at Langar by by Kate Lindsey of 4Mula, great work Kate!
It was extremely close between the three top teams with only 0.6 average separating them. Die Hard took bronze with 80 points, they are a Dunkeswell team that has done a fair amount of training. Viento 99 took the silver with 84 (10.5 average). A single point ahead were the attractively named Colostomy taking gold, well done Sam Bemment, Peter Harries, Rebecca Frew, Westleigh Guest, Simon Perry and Kel Spittle. This was a very popular win with the crowd, with much cheering from the crowd. Surely that is one of the best feelings in the world, standing on stage with your medal being applauded by your peers, the most genuine, inimitable and uplifting accolade!
After a gripping battle for bronze, Langar-based team Tyrano4Them Rex, took the prize with 68 points. Sebastian Mulder, Elliot Brown, Rebecca Stevens and Sam Haste with cameraflyer Sam Lee were neck and neck all the way with Kesshin, who just lost their medal on the last round. Still, the gaily coloured Kesshin girls brightened to the DZ with their laughter and great vibes! This all-girl team is coached by John McIver, training at Hib, and were in A class last year. In silver were RAFSPA Lightning, with 74 points after 8 rounds, excellent skydiving by Danielle Hodgkinson, Andy Beney, Craig Harrop, Adam Threlfel and Colin Laker! Just one point ahead taking the AA Champion title were Tyrano4Us Rex, well done Simon Perry, Emily Sugars, Max Holmes and Jason Hobbs, with Paul Monaghan on video (pictured, top).
Also entering the meet were Triceroblox (A), and Rookie teams RAFSPA Raptor and 4Loceraptor! What’s with the dinosaur theme? Would someone Findout4us?!
All the first places in Rookie, A and AA will receive £600 funding from the BPA (subject to conditions), a very cool initiative that was popular with the crowd when announced.
A special mention to Eclipse and NFTO in equal fourth position, who made an excellent average of 17.4 on a slow draw, jostling and jousting each other all the way. Eclipse put up an amazing round 5, scoring the same as British team Satori, with about a tenth of the jump numbers! Taking bronze as they did last year were Vision 99, Pete Mather, Mike Hayes, Ady King and player/coach Steve Hamilton, with ex-4-way jumper Rich Orford on camera. Vision pulled off an outstanding last round, equalling Satori’s score, and the the only round where they scored higher than silver medallists 4Mula. Vision increased their average by the most of the medal placed teams, from 17.7 last year to 18.1. Still a very expensive four points!! ;-)
It was a fierce battle but 4Mula held onto second placed position all the way to the end, and were worthy medallists. Player/coach Joey Jones, Sian Stokes and original team members Dave Rodgers and Kate Lindsley came through in style, taking the silver medal with an 18.5 average, slightly up from last year’s 18.3. Well out in front were Satori XL, with Pete Allum, Milko Hodgkinson, Julia Foxwell and John McIver, with Gary ‘Swoop’ Wainwright on camera, who scored a 20.3 average, actually a nadge down on last years’ 20.7. It was a slow draw, made slower by the re-draw of the last rounds due to the second weekend. These guys hadn’t jumped together for a month before Nationals, and took some time to find their mojo. They knew they had undertrained for the Nationals, this is because they made their training plan to peak at the World Championships about to start in Skydive Chicago, their main goal of the year. Since the 4-way Nationals they have been training at Skydive Hibaldstow non-stop, to boost their world meet performance, using the stimulus of the recent competition learning experience to kick their training up a notch. We hope it works out for them, and wish them every success, a monster average, and to skydive like champions!
Teams had placed themselves in the correct category, with all of the medallists a similar level to the others behind them in their category. Rookie teams all belonged in rookie, being slow but visibly working on positioning and doing things right rather than rushing. It’s interesting to watch how most of the teams of all levels clearly pay for coaching; throughout the jumps you can see skydivers working for the correct pictures. It’s a great foundation for the future of British 4-way skydiving, already in a great place, with the largest belly 4-way Nationals in the world!
The standard of the cameraflying this year was exceptional, across all categories. Thanks to the judges who worked really hard to get the scores out very quickly indeed, much appreciated by competitors! All the staff at Skydive Hibaldstow should be congratulated for working tirelessly both Nationals weekends and presenting a united, organised team fulfilling all the planning they have put in over the last months. Awesome work from the pilots flying the same tight circuit through challenging conditions – the G92s take off every 3 and a half minutes!!! Respect! Noel Purcell as Meet Director ran an excellent, safe meet, supported by DZ Manager Rob Spours, who made effective weather and standdown calls throughout. The evening entertainment was stellar, with some great bands laid on in Hib’s purpose-built venue, surely the best clubhouse in the UK. Same time next year? Yes please! I’d like to extend an open invite to non-UK teams to come and join the biggest 4-Way FS Nationals in the world!
See all articles on the Uk Nationals 2016 here
Scores can be found on the InTime site here