The meet in Prostejov in the Czech Republic underway and a competition update will follow shortly. Our preperation went well and although the weather was pretty miserable for most of the week that we were here we managed to get 23 training jumps in. We had planned on doing 50 jumps for the week which was the number that we felt would get us to a comfortable place for the meet. The plan was to work on exits since the Let (the airplane that is being used in the competition) is slightly different to an Otter and very different to an Angel, and then to do a few draws and make refinements here and there. At this stage it is too late to make any major changes to techniques so our coach Pete focused on the softer skills such as communication, timing, rhythm, good builds and all the finer points which we sometimes neglect in favor of drilling techniques. 3 rounds into the meet I can say that this was a valuable exercise.
We found that exiting the aircraft was much more difficult than we expected. There is a single bar on the outside of the plane and Outside Center sometimes has a tough time to hold on and pick up grips, especially on Tail. The center of gravity is just too far back and a proper launch is tough to achieve. We experimented with a few approaches and finally determined that some exits (such as an E) are best launched from inside the plane with OC standing close to the door and Point and IC quite far inside the plane. A lot of teams seem to be exiting like this. Some exits enable OC to be outside which Warren appreciates since the camera slot is pretty windy if there is no-one up front to break the air a bit. The Let has a lot more air than an Otter due either to run in speed or the prop wash or both so getting settled on the outside is somewhat of a delicate process.
Surprisingly we found that jumping with Pete yielded a few observations that we had not made before. With Amy in the team we always try and do the techniques which we have been coached. Pete allowed us to experience small changes to some of our techniques, some of which felt really nice. We subsequently explored these a bit further in the tunnel in Prague the eve before the competition and ended up making a couple of small changes here and there, despite my previous statements that technique training was over at this stage.
So we met Amy and Warren and Meggan at the wind tunnel in Prague on the eve of the 24th. They had all just flown from South Africa via various routes. Amy and Warren put on their best (tired) smiles and we jumped into the tunnel for four 15 minute sessions each. We did 4-way and Warren worked on his freeflying since we needed someone to rotate with us. As expected we were rusty as a team and we tried to go way too fast and it was pretty messy. This continued into the second session, despite our intention of slowing to down and flying cleaner. We then did a full B slot session with Alex and Amy switching slots on the top pair and Andre and Bailey switching slots on the bottom pair. This was a very successful session and we felt a bit of rhythm finally starting to creep in. Our fourth and final session we were back in A slots and it went much better taking into account that everyone was pretty fatigued at this stage.
After the tunnel sessions we jumped onto the train and made the 3 hour journey to Prostejov. We arrive at about 04:00 in the morning, grabbed a few hours of sleep and was at the DZ by 09:00. The team had received brand new Vector containers from UPT and Amy and Warren had not yet jumped their new gear so we planned on doing a couple of jumps just to get familiar with the gear, the DZ and each other in the air. We ended up doing 3 jumps and then finishing early so that we could get a good nights rest before the first round the next morning. We actually planned to do just 2 jumps but the final jump we funneled the exit which was the first time it had happened so we repeated that exit one more time just to remove the doubt that it had sown. Success was had and training was done and it is time for the meet.
Alex obo SAVOLO