Hayabusa ended up only one single point behind Airspeed in Dubai and had a significantly better starting point into the new 2-year cycle. However, Airspeed is the defending champion, and both teams have more than enough pressure to deal with. France, with two 4way world champions of 2010, has become the underdog for the gold medals.
The 2014 season still has another big meaning for Arizona Airspeed, as well. It will bring the 20-year anniversary celebration of a unique team project that was launched in 1994. The Sun Path Products NSL News had the opportunity for a live conversation with Mark Kirkby, who is one of the four founding members.
Mondial Dubai 2012 Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7 Rd. 8 Rd. 9 Rd. 10 Total Avg Rank AAA Class 5,12,E 6,D,B,K O,8,7 N,13,18 10,21,M 19,H,11 C,G,1,A 20,9,15 16,F,P,Q 2,J,4 Total Avg 1 Arizona Airspeed (US) 27 34 27 22 23 23 32 25 40 26 279 27.9 2 NMP-PCH Hayabusa (BE) 25 34 27 21 23 24 32 27 40 25 278 27.8
It is also the 20-year anniversary for Mark Kirkby, even though he does not really see it this way. He was not with Airspeed in 2004 - 2006 and was technically only a member for 17 years. However, he became a 4way world champion with Arizona Airspeed for the first time in 1995 with a 20.7 average and is the reigning 4way world champion 20 years later, after the 27.9 average in December 2012.
Mark Kirkby knows the tail slot as no other 4way competitor in the world, and he will have to forward his knowledge to the next Airspeed tail at the end of the 2014 season, as he plans to retire as an active Airspeed 4way competitor.
Wind Games 2014 Rd. 1 Rd. 2 Rd. 3 Rd. 4 Rd. 5 Rd. 6 Rd. 7 Rd. 8 Rd. 9 Rd. 10 Total Avg Rank AAA Class C,20,17 16,A,D,7 J,P,13,L N,21,22 M,8,15 K,3,6 F,4,1 B,G,H,O,10 5,18,9 Q,2,12 Total Avg 1 NMP-PCH Hayabusa (BE) 29 36 33 27 31 30 29 41 32 26 314 31.4 2 Arizona Airspeed (US) 32 35 30 27 32 26 32 38 32 21 305 30.5
The mental skills and the ability to train quick reactions during the performance are relevant and crucial components for being a top 4way competitor, and they don't fade much at all with aging. There is no reason why Mark Kirkby could not continue to win gold medals for another decade.
He still does not plan for that, and he wants to retire when the Airspeed project is in good shape. He sees the potential for continuation of the great leadership that Arizona Airspeed has always forwarded from one generation of competitors to the next one. It's a good time to step back, he says.
NMP-PCH Hayabusa won the first showdown at the Wind Games in January, and the next indoor confrontation is coming up very soon at the Paraclete XP Indoor Championship 2014. Niklas Hemlin said after losing the World Challenge 2012 and before winning gold in Dubai that "you don't win a world meet in the wind tunnel".
However, teams have always taken the world meet gold medals after winning at the Paraclete XP Outdoor Championship, and that event is coming up very soon in DeLand, exactly one week after the indoor showdown in Raeford...