January 21, 2012 we held the first FLCPA meet of the season at SkydiveCity in Z-Hills FL. We ran the new courses to try and stay ahead of the game and get some people running them in competition. One of the nice things about the FLCPA is that its not “officially” governed by anyone (USPA/FAI) so we can make on the fly rule changes as needed. We had 44 competitors at the meet. 24 Amateur, and 20 Pro. I’ll stick to discussing the Pro class in this post since those are who run the FAI Open class rules. We make the rules a bit easier for the Amateur class and have even greater ability to adjust them to keep this class as a place to grow new pilots.
The meet was 6 rounds(2 speed, 2 distance, 2 zone acc.) and 1 mandatory practice run on Saturday morning. We finished the meet in one day. The courses were set up running running west. During distance the winds were out of the south varying SE/SW 90 degrees with a few lulls that made for a few unusually long runs(2.5-5M/S). (you can see them if you analyze the scores). During speed the winds were out of the WSW(headwind) (2-5.5M/S). During the Saturday morning briefing we let everyone know that we would be aggressively handing out yellow and red cards for unsafe approaches or attacking the gates in an unsafe manner. With the new rules, finesse would be the way to a good score, not smacking the water. 3 yellow cards were handed out total. 2 on the practice day, and one during the meet during distance. There were no injuries at the meet. The two yellow cards from the practice day were due to impacting the water and they were both pretty sore on Saturday. One competed, the other sat out from the meet.
SPEED: No issues setting up the course. We used our TAG Heuer timing system. Double beam on the entry, double beam on the exit. These new rules make it even easier and more likely the little guys will get under the 1.5M high beam on the entry and many were flying through the exit gate laid out flat(like in distance). We had one rejump due to the entry gate not triggering on one competitor. We thought judging the dragging would be an issue. At the briefing we discussed “chatter” on the water vs. “skipping” along the water. There were little to no ripples on the water and judging the drags was easier than expected.
DISTANCE: There were many who thought having the water drag at the entry would cause there to be hard impacts at the entry gate. Quite the contrary, the approaches were very controlled and not scary at all. Before starting distance we briefed everyone that the angles and approaches should look like accuracy approaches, not the old distance approaches. The ability to time the drag to be at the gate was difficult. There were a number of people getting on the water and lifting up before reaching the gate, skipping over it, or touching down just after. Putting the drag at the entry gate(not before or after) was very challenging. Most stayed controlled enough stay below 1.5M for the 50 Meters and there was very little popping up after that gate. The landings were much less scary and hard on the competitors. The height restriction seemed to do its job in saving our competitors from dangerously hard landings.
In regard to water contact after the drag, there was quite a bit of incidental water contact on the water after the entry gate. In trying to stay low until 50 meters there were quite a few toes skimming the water at the second/third/fourth water gate. If incidental water contact is not allowed, it will be very difficult to differentiate when the competitor picks up his foot as many had little toe skips on the water after the entry drag. At the speeds the competitors were moving at the entry gate, it would be very difficult for judges to differentiate the drag, from skipping and when a competitor raises his foot off the water.
My feeling on the rules is a bit different after running them.There was a lot of griping and complaining before the meet.
Here’s a link to the score sheet so you can analyze and see a ballpark of the times and distances that were put down with the wind conditions shown above. http://swoopleague.com/results/results-flcpa/
The competitors with stars before and after their names are the Pro competitors, If there are no stars, they are amateur competitors. Amateurs didn’t have to drag in any of the events, just stay below the 5 foot gates(it works like a handicap).
Just my observations…