Wingsuit Progression Series
A series covering WS skydiving, from your FFC through Exits, Skydiving with Others & Safety, by Matt Gerdes & Taya Weiss...
Blue skies, sunshine and happy faces… the penultimate day of the championships looked certain to make up for lost time to weather and put enough jumps in the bank to call it a meet [6 rounds are required]. The electricity problems of yesterday have been sorted, the manifest is working again and it seemed the stars were in alignment.
With the first call once again at 6:45am this 4-way was a test of stamina and not for the faint-hearted. Round 4 (M, 4, 1) the Belgians had a clean 25 to USA’s clean 24, and Canada’s ‘dirty’ 22, losing 2 points to busts; one incomplete formation and one to the slightly questionable centre point rule – as whether or not the centre points of the 2-way cats in block 1 appear to cross depends on the camera angle.
As mentioned last report the puzzle (O, 14, A, P ) was a potential high-scorer that could make a lot of difference on the board. Canada and USA both made blistering skydives,with Airspeed proving the faster team scoring a 31 to Canada’s 28. It’s hard to see how the Belgians could better the jump but we knew they’d give it their all… Hayabusa produced a scorching skydive that made you dizzy watching it. Their 540 turns and foot placement at the close were impeccable. They scored a clean 33, to much applause.
The puzzle – 7, 11, 12 – saw an interesting array of set-ups for the 7s (buddies); most teams such as Airspeed favored a zig-zag set-up but some of the top teams (Hayabusa and the French) opted for a P (sidebody). The facing set-up (zig-zag) probably makes for faster cleaner side bodies due to better visuals but the P is a quicker move to the 11. The French scored a fast and furious 20, the Canadians had beautiful verticals on their 11 and 12 block moves, also scoring 20. Airspeed were outstanding with a 22 and Hayabusa answered that with a fast dive equalling 22. With 6 rounds done the Belgians look set to win their first ever World Championships, being a comfortable 8 points ahead of Airspeed, and having beaten or equalled them on every round. Airspeed in turn have pulled ahead of Evolution by 7 points, who are 19 points clear of nearest rivals the French.
This one really put the cat among the pigeons. The puzzle was 22, 20, 15, the majority of teams scored 11-13s. The Russians had a great round and put a 16 on the board. To everyone's amazement the French funneled their exit, eventually salvaging a 13 by going balls-out. Airspeed made a good 17 points. The weather had been deteriorating over the last few hours, and Hayabusa left in rain, making the first point not visible. The Belgians would have scored a 19 but lost one to make 18. But the real surprise of the round were the Canadians who had an incredibly quick jump, scoring an amazing 21… to win the round. Even without Hayabusa's NV they still beat them, and pulled back 4 points on Airspeed to now lie just 3 points behind, with 2 rounds to go.
Hayabusa were told to rejump by the judges and we are waiting now for them to go back up.
France and USA are going round for round in a thrilling battle, with the Golden Knights taking round 4 and edging into a 1-point lead. Great Britain extended their lead over Canada in round 4; both teams lost the first 2 points to camera angle.
The exciting round 5… In fourth place, Canada made a solid jump but it don’t look particularly fast. Kaizen, the Brits, did a good jump with just one wee fumble / assist and the last grip on the O an inch away on the freeze frame, which showed 20. It was so nearly 21 but in the end was bust down to a 19… still 3 points ahead of Canada and extending UK’s lead to a convincing 7 points halfway through the comp, sitting pretty in third place.
A clean 27 Points to the fast sharp French filles, who skydived with a real sense of urgency and high awareness of the last grip from all team members… The Americans made a very consistent jump that looked (and was) slower, scoring a possible 25, but bust down to a 22, for camera angle on exit and an incomplete formation. So the French slip back in front to lead by 3 points at the halfway mark.
This proved to be the turning point of the meet, with the French extending their lead to 8 points by the close of round 7. Round 8 was eventful, with the white cloud getting thicker by the minute. The French were last out, and their camera lens misted up making them just black spinning dots in a max of dewdrops. Their probable 16 could not be seen so only 8 points were awarded, and they are also waiting to for a rejump.
The Turbolets don’t make it easy for anyone on exit, the prop blast giving the slipstream extra force, and troubling camera flyers and the 4-ways. A lot of the teams are choosing to start their exits mostly inside the large door but are having problems flying a clean solid exit. The result is an unusual number of NJs on the first two points, and teams struggling with piece moves just out of the door. GB’s female team had some disastrous contact with their camera on round 6 funnelling part of the formation as well as adding some NV [not seen on video] busts.
On the other hand, Justin Price, Airspeed’s new cameraman, is ripping it up, taking the side of the door in preference to holding the rail. Their round 7 exit in particular, was a joy to watch, as Airspeed popped out a zig-zag, split into 2 side bodies and started rotating before you could say ‘buddies’.
After today's rejumps for the Belgie boys and the French fillies, the teams have 2 more rounds to do tomorrow, the last day of the meet. The top three look decided in both events but there is an outside chance that Evolution could outscore Airspeed again. 3 points more would mean a jump-off for bronze medal. Whether this happens or not, for the Canadian team to outscore Hayabusa and Airspeed, especially on a 3-block jump is outstanding and they should feel proud. This is all the more remarkable by the fact that three of the Lemay brothers in Evolution (Martin, Benoit and Vincent) are also competing in VFS! Plus JC, their 4-way FS cameraman, is also a flyer within the VFS team. They are in third place in VFS and will take at least bronze medal in FS 4-way. Respect!
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