Nine head-scratching competition rules

Monday, August 15, 2022

I encourage every headed to US nationals to read the skydiver’s competition manual! It is generally full of precise rules required to run the event fairly. But there are a few lines in there that make you wonder.

Some of these are just oddly phrased. Others are head-scratching remanents from the past. And just like the warning label to not shower with a blow dryer, a few make you wonder what crazy incident prompted the rule.

1) Don’t bring your own plane

Chapter 1 – 7.1.1 All practice jumps made at a USPA National Skydiving Championships site will be made only from aircraft under control of the Meet Director and at his or her discretion.

So… you can’t bring your own plane? Did this happen? And if I did bring my own otter, that wouldn’t be ok? So many questions.

2) The video guy can’t train or have fun

Chapter 1- 7.2.3 Freefall videographer’s jumps during the championships are not considered training or fun jumps.

What the hell does this even mean? And why the videographer specifically? And does that mean we aren’t training or having fun? What kind of jumps are they?

In actuality, this rule is supposed to say that it is ok for videographers to do a tandem or aff jump in between competition jumps. Not a realistic proposition anyway, and a weird thing to single out.

3) You can’t attach a motor to your helmet

7.3.1 Each team in the AE, CF, FS, VFS, MFS and WS Acrobatic events will include a videographer who will provide the evidence required to judge each round.

* The camera must be fixed static to the helmet

I know why this is here. Somebody in a freefly event attached a motor to a helmet to change the orientation instead of going head down/head up at the right time. So now… this.

4) The ground winds didn’t funnel your exit

8.5.3 Excessive wind speed during a jump is not grounds for a rejump, except in the Accuracy Landing and Canopy Piloting events.

Every ridiculous warning label has a story. My guess is an FS competitor tried to get a rejump because the ground winds were too fast.

5) A division to promote women’s athletics! Except the video. We don’t care if that is a dude.

Ch 9 – 3.2.2 The videographer on an all-women 4-Way team competing in the Open class may be either sex.

The argument for the women’s division is to promote and encourage women to compete in skydiving. But they did not go all the way – the videographer can be a guy. Because we don’t want more women videographers? I guess?

Also, this does not do much to alleviate the (usually unfair) creepy camera guy stereotype.

6) HOLY CRAP? BREAKOFF IS WHAT ALTITUDE?

*defunct* 6.4.2 Breakoff altitude 6.4.2.1 4-Way—3,500 feet

Ok, so they eventually caught this one. I still have it in my 2016 copy of the manual, though. That is right kids — suggested BREAKOFF for a 4way was 3500 feet!

Now it says much more reasonably:

CH 9 – 6.4.1 Teams are responsible to break off at an appropriate altitude to ensure compliance with the Basic Safety Requirements.

7) Small mercies

Ch 9 – 7.1.4 The minimum score for any round is zero points.

Happily, you can’t get negative points. But, for the record, if not for this rule, it would be possible if you got enough omissions, which is a -3 penalty.

8) Black is still the new black

Ch 9 – 1.5.3 Dark jumpsuits with contrasting gloves are recommended for best video judgeability.

Every wonder why the only jumpsuit color seems to be black? This is it. Belly flyers have taken this one to heart. Maybe you could try dark navy if you are feeling rebellious.

9) Won’t you go blind?

Chapter 9 – 8.1.3.7 Handholds by the jumper on their own body within a subgroup or a scoring formation are permitted.

You can touch yourself all you want when turning a piece. This one is here because someone filed a protest when a jumper touched his own body in freefall. Happily, the protest didn’t work.

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I've watched Christy develop as a competitor and coach for 17 years and I've seen her do this again and again. There is one risk when working with her. You're going to want more, lots more!

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