posted Jun 13th, 2006 -
The first Grand Prix event in Great Britain this year was scheduled for May 13 - 14. Unfortunately, the NSL News story on May 16 had to report bad news since the meet was completely weathered out. However, there was already great interest in May, and the participation at last weekend's new attempt to launch the 2006 season reflected the excitement of the UK teams to finally get it going.
The 23 teams used all four competition classes to show where they are at the beginning of the competition season, and the meet included fierce races for the first Grand Prix medals in 2006. Especially the A Class (7) and the Rookie Class (9) enjoyed great participation and competition.
Perris AirKix at the Grand Prix event
Event organizer Andy Scott expressed his great experiences at the meet in Langar with a summary of the event: "What a great weekend - the draw was slow as hell (shame round 7 was not in earlier) but good fun all the same."
The slow competition draw for the AAA/Open Class teams surely did not allow record scores, and UK's national 4-way team in the female category, Perris AirKix, could not respond to France's 17.9 average on the weekend before. However, Perris AirKix still had enough work to fend off the charge by Bodyflight Rage.
The competition between Perris AirKix and Bodyflight Rage was an indirect competition between two wind tunnels, SkyVenture AirKix and Bodyflight Bedford, which are both located in close proximity to London. The Bodyflight Rage line-up included former XL member Steve Hamilton who has been working at the Bedford tunnel for a while.
Bodyflight Rage with Steve Hamilton
Perris AirKix won the AAA/Open Class competition by five points and maintained the top position in Great Britain. The British national team in the Open Class for the World Meet 2006, the British Army team DeLand Brits, did not attend the competition. Perris AirKix and the DeLand Brits are probably not too far from each other's scoring levels, and the British national championship this year might become an interesting showdown, unless both teams will already attend any of the other two Grand Prix events, which are scheduled for dates prior to the World Meet 2006 and the BPA Nationals.
Andy Scott reported that the record turnout of 23 teams led to a slower than planned turn-around time of about three hours per round. Of course, he was glad to see so many teams attending and appreciated that all teams were dealing well with this situation.
A Class winner Escondido
The British Parachute Association (BPA) once again provided free coaching services to support the development of the new teams. Perris AirKix and the Bodyflight teams were also on hand to help with the jump preparations at the creepers and at the mockup.
Andy Scott said that great weather helped a lot, except for a windy spell, which kept the teams on the ground on Saturday afternoon. This seemed to be a welcome break in Langar and happened at the right time since England played its first game at the World Cup Soccer Saturday afternoon, as Andy Scott added:
A Class silver medalist 4Fit
"The windy conditions were okay, we got to cheer on England and then resume jumping later to finish round three. Time was tight then on Sunday. But we were able to finish round six okay. Actually, we really needed to have two jump-offs for the tied places in the Rookie Class and in the A Class. But we had to use the count-back rules to determine the winners."
The toughest competition took place in the grass root level classes, which had the best participation, as well. Four teams were in the race for the first place throughout all six rounds of the A Class competition. Each of these four teams won or tied at least the highscore for one round, and only three points separated the team in 4th place (Qi - 50) from the gold medal position (Escondido - 53).
Rookie Class winner 100%
The situation was almost exactly the same in the Rookie Class. Three teams were separated by three points after six rounds in the field of nine Rookie Class teams. Team 100%'s 15-pointer in the last round of the competition became the meet winner when 100% and JCB were tied in first place after six rounds and there was no time for a jump-off.
The same three points also separated the teams in first and second place of the AA Class competition. Bodyflight Storm and Damn Zebra exchanged blows round by round. Damn Zebra took a 1-point lead in round one, and both teams tied their scores exactly in the following three rounds. Bodyflight Storm won back the single point in round five, and both teams went into the last round of the meet tied in first place. Storm's 17-pointer in round six finally won the meet by three points.
AA Class winner Bodyflight Storm
Andy Scott observed the record participation and the exciting competition with great pleasure and can expect even greater things to happen this year:
"The continued growth of our competition scene this year bodes well for an even bigger national championship. The 4-way competition is scheduled for August 19 - 21 at Hibaldstow near Lincoln. I would hope to see some foreign teams turn up and compete in our event, which is open for guest teams. It's a great party and a very slick competition, with the three turbine dorniers providing the completion of about seven rounds per day in good weather. The same four competition classes will be used once again, and it always proves to be a hit."
The next two events of the British Grand Prix 2006 are scheduled for July 1 and July 29. The last competition of the 2006 season is the re-scheduled one that makes up for the lost meet in May, and it will take place on the NSL Playoffs 2006 weekend, September 16.