Article by Rai Ahmed, Laura Jones and Paul Milburn
16 teams rocked up to 4-way AAA UK Nationals this year, and I would say at least 8 of the teams were trained in various degrees, ready to showcase their talent…
What made it interesting is that out of the top 4 teams fighting it out for a medal, 3 teams were flying with a new addition and had not managed to complete a significant amount of training with aforementioned new team member. This meant that there were going to be some tight rounds, depending upon the draw of course! And of course this was the selection meet for the World Championships next year, on Australia’s Gold Coast….
To say the draw was slow, was being kind, the jump-off, had 3 of the smallest randoms left in it! The draw was not the most straightforward, with slot-switchers in the first 5 rounds, what could be best described as a hard slog. The exits were challenging and there were only 3 rounds where you could feel yourself really push any rhythm, round 1 (K-10 -D -M), 6 (19-G-O-E) and 9 (11-F-9). The teams that messed up these rounds would also be punished. This would be a draw that would suit a trained team.
With the state of play it was anyone's game. Satori XL with only a handful of jumps with new additions, Ady King and Steve Hamilton; 4mula with a new line-up, that have not had the chance to fly with Joey due to uncertainty of UK eligibility; Chimera who had to replace Chris Judd (hope that’s the last time you spank yourself) with Jonny Flowers (of Eclipse/Microclim8 fame); and finally NFTO who had a new line up this year with everyone flying unfamiliar slots. Of all the teams, NFTO (with coach Gary Smith on site) would have to be the most trained with 170 jumps this year, followed by Chimera, 4mula and then Satori XL.
Experience paid out, with the smooth but confident flying of Satori XL claiming Gold with a 7 point lead over 4Mula in the end. 4Mula had some great jumps (with some of the calmest flying I have seen from them), equalling Satori on 4 rounds and pipping them on round 6. It was a close meet with only 2 points in it until round 6 at which point Satori's experience paid off. Taking advantage of the more straightforward rounds, they pulled away. Well done Ady on your first Nationals gold medal! (I hope you still have a sore head!)
The battle for bronze was always going to be between Chimera and NFTO – although NFTO got a good scare from Heavenly Pests on the first 3 rounds! Chimera won out in the end, they are a great team to watch and hang out with (I am their biggest fan next to Katie, I imagine), they have a fantastic work ethic and and have fun with it (probably why they were voted the ‘team of the meet’). They outscored all teams on round 3 and kept close to the top 2 on most rounds with a blip on round 7. NFTO got their act together after an edgy round 1 and put some impressive scores on the board from round 5 onwards. I see the future of our national teams in both of these line-ups, drive and energy in both and great cameradarie!
Special note should go to Antimatter; the majority of their rounds were smooth and faultless. You could see the coaching from John McIver has paid off, please stay together for another season! I was also pleased to see 4 all female line-ups within the 16 teams, good to know there is good representation of the female category in the UK. Of these, NFTO (Anna Hicks, Vana Parker, Cath Anderson, Debbie Lamsley and Simon Brentford) was the highest scoring and will represent us next year in Australia, alongside Satori XL (Pete Allum, John McIver, Ady King and Steve Hamilton, with Rich Orf on camera). Satori will also compete at the indoor World Championships, in Canada, with Katie Woods in the line-up.
For the past 2 years I have told myself that I'm done competing at FS Nationals, that the only way to be competitive was to be part of a trained team, and that I would never feel competitive on a scratched team. My inner dialogue is right in the main; however this year I've learnt to be be less critical of myself, enjoy the shorter journey (of an epic 2 day training camp!), acknowledge skill and ‘balls’ when you see it in others and to enjoy being a chapter in the book that was FS Nationals 2017. Thank you Heavenly and Pests (if you know the members of the team, you have a fair idea of who’s who!) for a short but awesome learning curve!
“What a great British Nationals !! One of the closest comps we've had in a long time. Thanks 4mula and Chimera. Pleased to have even been able to compete after going through shoulder surgery in February and came back to jumping only 2 weeks ago. Thanks to the team and everyone that supported us. Special thanks to Skydive Hibaldstow and the Swallow family for their help over the decades” John McIver, Satori XL
“Our training camp the week before nationals was a perfect opportunity to gel as a team. Things went really well and we realised we had a perfect blend of personalities that worked together. Our mindset was the key to it all - we had believed we would compete as an open team which released us from any competitive expectation, over analysis, ego, doubts, and released us to perform. It was enlightening. We performed some of the best skydives of our careers, and made people realise that Satori are beatable. I think this meet inspired 4way'ers that anything is possible.“ Dave Rodgers, 4Mula
There were 6 teams in the AA category, and it was well fought out! The draw echoed that of the senior draw was slow and clunky, so we were not expecting blistering scores. The fastest round, on round 1 with all random round (K-D-M-Q), did not allow for nerves and the teams had to get straight into it. The top 3 medalling in the teams, were all relatively well trained with some experience to bring to all 3 lineups.
In the end there was only one point in it between the Gold and Silver medal positions, Hibaldstow’s own ‘Salty Jacks’ won out in the end with Pajama Pumas hot on their heels. They were followed closely by team Vantage, who found their form on the second day, after a slow start on Saturday. Sausage Addicts and Funtime Piglets had their time of glory at the top end of the scoreboard, while Dive Hard sadly didn’t quite match their usual excellent form – Dive Harder guys!
I look forward to seeing how many of these teams step up into the AAA Category next year and of course thank you ‘Pajama Pumas’ for entertaining us all with your mediocre jokes ;-) See you next year, depending upon how much I listen to my inner dialogue ;-)
AAA and AA article by Rai Ahmed, Heavenly Pests
In A class, Jurassic Pork (porn name) were really happy to be at the top after round 1, and even happier to launch cleanly, as they funnelled nearly every exit at UKSL, Dunkeswell, recently – and have never done a competition without funnelling an exit! Jurassic still blew one at Nationals but were mostly smooth out the door. They scored consistently well, led all the way through, and were worthy winners of their category. Jurassic are coached by Kate Lindsley but only have 12 training jumps. They took bronze at the UKSLs at Dunkeswell and Langar, and gold at Cark, so win the overall BPA medal, taking it from under the noses of Poor4Cast, who didn't skydive at their best after a terrific season, winning gold at Dunkeswell UKSL and silver at Langar and Cark. These two teams have been vying with each other at all the UKSLs.
The next two places were held most of the comp by Bacchus, and Boobasaurus Rex. Bacchus are a local Hib team, coached by Stu Ferguson, and named after the god of drink! Boobasurus are an all-female team (including camera) in their first year of competition, coached by Chris Judd. They were arguably the best-dressed team, in their tie-dye T-shirts (while Eros had the best team mugs!).
These two teams held the silver and bronze positions all the way through the meet, while RAFSPA Venom were slowly catching them up. RAFSPA Venom are a mix of RAFSPA Firefly, who entered AA last year, and two newbies who have never competed before. As their competition experience grew, their performance improved until a very exciting last round, where they scored an 11, leapfrogging over Boobasuarus into a jump-off with Bacchus for silver! Venom had a great jump-off and took the silver from Bacchus. Phew! What a finish!
A category article by Laura Jones, Jurassic Pork
The rookie category this year saw a majority of scratch teams taking their first step into the world of competitive 4-way FS, having fun being our main priority. Spirits were high and pulses were racing on day 1 with everyone trying to take a calm approach to a fairly quick first round, resulting in very close scores between all teams. Day 2 brought great weather and more joy for everyone as healthy rivalries developed and scoreboard positions changed after every round.
The question on everyone’s minds was “who would end up on the podium?” and we kept ourselves guessing until the very end. Round 4 threw the cat among the pigeons, with many teams having a jump that was well under par, and positions changing hugely on the scoreboard as a result… It was neck and neck going into the final round, with RAFSPA Shadow and Fireflies in equal first place, and just one point between Flying Fossils and Smash n Grab vying for third. In the final round female team Fireflies and RAF team RAFSPA scored exactly the same. This resulted in an exciting jump-off between them – where both teams scored 7 points! The decision for who would take gold came down to the fastest last point… RAFSPA Shadow managed to take gold away from Fireflies.
Flying Fossils had a fantastic last round and comfortably took bronze, missing out on the jump-off battle for gold by only 1 point. In fourth place were local team Smash ’n’ grab, who started training in April at a really basic level. But they have worked hard and seen results, coached by Hib’s Stu Ferguson. It was their first event and they were stoked to do as well as they did. #itsnotallabouthemedals
Big improvements were made by all teams throughout the event and I look forward to seeing everyone continue to have fun at next year’s Nationals.
Rookie article by Paul Milburn, Strong and Unstable
Skydive Hibaldstow meet management did an excellent job with weather calls, going on occasional holds but getting the jumps done whenever there was opportunity. There seemed to be hordes of blue-shirted Hib staff, making for speedy service everywhere. It's a feat of logistics to run the three G92s, dropping 5 minutes apart, and they have buses to organise too, to the emplaning point and from the landing area. Everything ran like a Swiss watch – perfectly in time with no drama. There were only 2 malfunctions and no injuries – not even in the bar! The meet finished on Sunday afternoon, with time for two jump-offs. Judging, using the InTime scoring system was excellent; fast and with no protests.
The atmosphere of cameraderie and friendly rivalry was terrific, with Hib’s fantastic bar/clubhouse facility proving the perfect place to watch the live judging, with oohs and aahs from the crowd, and hi-fives to other teams for good rounds. The spirit of fun was in full force, with pranks and good humour, which began on Friday night with Hib's funny safety video….
Some special awards were given out by Skydive Hibaldstow as spot prizes…
Chimera read out a great limerick…
There once was a team called Chimera, Whose Tail saw the ground getting nearer, He felt his heart pound, As his leg hit the ground... And now poor Chris Judd has no femur!
On the day they all shed a tear ,But they knew the end was not near, The girls used their nips, To get the Tail from Eclipse... And that’s why we won all the beer!
Watch the prizegiving, commentary throughout the competition, and the live judging of the last round in all categories, here on the Skydive Mag Facebook page.
This video interview with coach Katie Woods tells more about Chimera's success…
Scores are here on the InTime scoring system