by Simon Brentford
Since 2018, I’ve been running a competition with a difference. It’s loosely called the “6-Way Speed and Accuracy Meet” and when I say loosely, it’s all about having fun and not taking things too seriously. The competition is loosely split into 4 different sections, each with the ability to score points. And what do points win? Well not prizes, but that doesn’t really matter.
Each competition is unique, with different exits and formations. So far there’s been 5 installments of the competition run with around 4 to 6 teams each time. The level of experience required is mixed. For the most part, there will be 2 higher, 2 medium and usually 2 lower level experienced jumpers.
Whilst there’s lots of friendly rivalry, it’s mostly about having a laugh. I also try to balance each team out so that there is no clear winner before it starts.
So here’s how the 6-way’s are run (this is as close as we get to rules):
This is not your typical 6-way block exit sort of competition. We’ve had all sorts of fun exits:
The idea is to have as much fun as possible and try all the exits you wouldn’t normally do! With some of the funky exits, there maybe extra points given for success or removed for not attempting it. If I’m really honest, I want a bit of instability here and there, as long as it’s done safely.
The clock starts as soon as anyone from the team exits the airplane and stops once the 6-way star is completed. I can’t remember when, but there used to be a whole nationals discipline called 10-way Speed. And in fact, Skydive Hibaldstow also used to run an annual 10-way Frostbite Friendly too which involved speed star.
A good speed star is usually when the time between the first one letting go and the last diver is as short as possible. Getting a tight group / block out of the door is harder than you think. Presenting neatly to the slip stream is intuitively what we all aim for, but in speed star, its all about getting out as quickly as you can. Guaranteed, there will always be a few tumbles here an there.
“I have taken part in several of Simon’s 6 way events and loved everyone.
The mixture of speed, FS and accuracy along with some very interesting exits makes it great fun. Each team has skydivers from all experience levels so it makes for a great competition.”Wendy Pugh
Once the star is complete, you don’t have to hold it for a minimum number of seconds, just get it keyed and start working on your formations. Points are given based on the time your 6-way completed. So if you scored the quickest time and there are a total of 5 teams, you get 5 points. If however, you are the slowest, you only get 1.
Next up will be a series of between 3 and 5 points to remember for each of the competition rounds (and there’s 4 rounds). When I’m designing the formations, I try to work on the idea that each team will always have a couple of low experienced jumpers. You might think that having lots of blocks would be too advanced, but in fact, it makes it easier when doing 6-way as you can “baby-sit” the lower experienced jumpers with those of more ability.
It’s better to have the teams score 8 easier points over 4 harder one’s and it keeps it more exciting / faster flowing. There’s also the occasional team back loop thrown in for added animation.
After everyone’s opened their parachutes, there’s a 10-meter accuracy ring to land in. Anyone who can do a stand-up landing inside the ring (with a safe approach), will gain an extra point. It’s a skill rarely seen these days at most dropzones, but it feels good when you nail it and it’s also a good ability to have. There’s a limit of five people who can score the points which helps to keep the congestion down for those going for the ring. It also means that those who don’t feel comfortable doing accuracy can land somewhere else without feeling under pressure to have a go.