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NMP-PCH Hayabusa has two brothers in the lineup, David and Andy Grauwels, who plan to become 4way world champions in 2014. Marin and Martial Ferre did the same already in 1999 for France. Mathieu and Guillaume Bernier copied it again for France, first in 8way in 2006 and 2008, then in 4way in 2010.
Canada had the most amazing family team in the past years, Evolution with father Michel Lemay and his three sons Martin, Vincent and Benoit. As Hayabusa they have not been world champions yet, but the three brothers will try it in 2014, together with Katie Woods in the new lineup. Other teams see themselves as family too. What's behind it?
Hayabusa has not only been special due to the small-country team's world class performance level. The fact that the Grauwels brothers, David and Andy, have been training and competing together since the team was formed makes Hayabusa an unusual and unique team situation.
Not so fast - it is not unique. There is a 4-way team that has even gone a step further. This is really hard to believe or even imagine, but there was a world-class team with a lineup of only family members. Yes, I am talking about the Lemay family from Canada who call their team Evolution.
Michel decided to step back after Dubai, and his three young sons (age 28, 25, and 22) keep on going. Their goal is to become 4-way world champions as soon as possible. They didn't have any additional family members to fill the open slot, so they invited Katie Woods to become world champions together with them. She is of the same age group.
Did I mention France yet...? Brothers Mathieu and Guillaume Bernier have won two 8-way gold medals together (2006 and 2008) and 4-way gold in 2010. They recently won 8-way silver and 4-way bronze in Dubai, and they are not done yet. Together they will continue for at least one more year in 8-way.
Hayabusa's Grauwels brothers and Evolution's Lemay brothers will be in the 4-way spotlight for at least two more years. It seems at the moment as if only Arizona Airspeed will compete with the two family lineups on the very top level where a 4-way team can medal at the World Championship of Formation Skydiving. France is re-building in 4-way without brothers or sisters, and other top contenders are not in sight yet.
It's amazing that two of the three top contenders have family lineups. Can it really be coincidence? Remember that brothers Marin and Martial Ferre from France won 4-way gold medals together in 1999. Not to forget that father Tim and son John D'Annunzio just won the Paraclete XP Indoor Championship 2013 in 8-way. How about the other D'Annunzio and Verner kids who will soon fly circles around their fathers and brothers?
So it may not be coincidence then. You could assume that there is a good reason why family members combine well for a good 4-way team, or any team. Well, there are enough good reasons why this theory has quite some truth in it.
The top teams in the world are spending a lot of time together. A lot. They train together, travel together, administer their lives together to match all five different logistics and individual circumstances. They live together like a family when they are traveling, from breakfast to brushing their teeth at night. They deal with the same issues and sometimes with problematic interactions, and they always have to find a solution and move on. Divorce is a disaster like in real life and cannot be an option if a team wants to win.
Siblings know how to deal with each other, as couples do (check out 4-way world champions Eliana Rodriguez and Craig Girard) and their parents know how the family works as well. Thus, it might not be a coincidence, and it could even be an advantage if family members get together on a 4-way team. Very often, the spouses and children of skydivers turn into skydivers too, and they are familiar with the environment. The door to family lineups then opens when talent and interest go in the same direction. We will have the next two years to follow the Hayabusa, Evolution, and Airspeed families on their way to the next World Championship of Formation Skydiving. It will be interesting to see whether the Belgian and Canadian biological families have an advantage over the Airspeed family project. Airspeed families have won many times, and real French family teams have too - Belgium and Canada not yet...