Back to work for the two French 2-way CF teams, « at home » in Eloy ( « at home in America » – ed literal translation) for 3 weeks from February 18 to March 09, 2018. The choice of this dropzone, far from France, is not a coincidence.
There is of course the weather, though somewhat chilly some days and with 2 days of rain (but far from the negatives temperatures occurring in France at the same period), and more importantly the sun, a lot of sun!
The two French Canopy Formation 2-way teams for the ritual photo in front on the “Welcome to the sun”
There is indeed the dropzone, « Skydive Arizona – Welcome to the sun », where the teammates come each time with joy, as we have been regulars of the drop zone for nearly ten years and enjoy its benefits, its availability and its impressive aircraft fleet, the local spirit and their appetizing Bent Burgers!
There is also the « Roadrunner B&B », where the 8 members of the French CF Team stayed in 2017 and where we settled down again this year. The Roadrunner B&B is the house closest to the dropzone at barely 1 mile where Dan, our host, is taking great care of us by cooking « succulent » meals, delicious pastries, cakes, donuts and other muffins!
But there is especially Rigging Innovation with Sandy and Brenda Reid along with Scotty.
Rigging Innovation (RI in the following text) is one of the US manufacturers of skydiving containers. Without having the size of the « giants » of the market like SunPath or UPT, RI has nothing to envy regarding confort, quality, technology and innovations.
If we speak here about Rigging Innovations, it’s because it’s one of the main partners of the French Canopy Formation Team alongside Performance Designs, Airtec, Boogie Man and Larsen&Brusgaard. By the way, RI is the second oldest equipment partner of the team (the oldest is Airtec since 1994~95).
In 2000, the team made the choice to get five Talon 2 which we’ve been jumping until 2015. It was the first rigs from RI that equipped the French Team.
The French 4-way sequential team from 2005 during the World Cup in Eloy, equipped with the Talon 2 which will be jumped until 2015
Every member of the team remembers these first Talon 2. Every one of us jumped them at one point or another between 2001 and 2015. The first impression of the team members about the rigs was that they would not last as the fabric seemed thin and weak. They held 6000 jumps! Six thousand! Only one of the five Talon 2 did break, in 2012, when the leading edge of an agressive canopy caught the riser cover flap, tearing the lateral flap of the container.
The French 4-way sequential team from 2008 during their first World Championship, equipped with these same Talon 2
These Talon 2 were really soft and flexible, without any padding or foam in the back or the legpad, but still the best of what was made in terms of comfort at this time. Speaking about the size of the container, all the canopies from the Triathlon 99 to the Diamant 180, and also the Storm 135, 120, 107 fitted inside. The shape of the container (with the tail pocket packing, more tolerant when it comes to packed volume) allowed a big flexibility on that side, explaining why all the team members of the French CF Team jumped with them.
The teams of 4-way sequential mainly used those Talon from 2001 to 2010 before they were given to B teams.
In 2011, at a training in Eloy (again!), the team was equipped with five brand new Talon FX to the measurements of the new 4-way sequential team, smaller and lighter than the previous generations before 2007. Combined with Storm 120 and from now on equipped with regular hand-deploy, these Talon FX5 were the logical evolution towards containers developed at first for freefall, but fully compatible with canopy formation with a harness really comfortable especially thanks to the « V-flex » legstraps specific to the Talon, and a container that was streamlined but opened enough to let the canopies exit without any obstruction. Also, for the first time for the 2011 4-way sequential team, the rigs were tailor-made, which allowed the team to significantly improve their flight skills, and thus their results.
Sandy Reid with the French 4-way sequential team equipped with their new Talon FX, February 2011, Eloy
After this conclusive renewal, the 2-way « A » team composed of Rodolphe Pourcelot, Hugues Orlianges and Kevin Techer did the same as the 4-way team and got two Talon FX0 for their Storm 97 in 2012 (and one FX00 for Kevin), followed in 2014 by the « B » team composed of Charline Delay and Cindy Collot along with Olivier Plat and Alexandra Petitjean, alternate of the 4-way sequential team. In 2015, the whole 4-way sequential team renewed theirs Talon FX5s for FX0s, more adapted to their Storm 97 (and one FX1 for Laurent Stéphane Montfort 😀 ).
The French 2-way “A” Team in 2012 with our first Talon FX0 and FX00
Finally, today (2018), the 2-way « A » team renews theirs FX0s for the same size with some nice improvements, to put their 72ft2 5 cells crossbraced canopies, the PD Tangos!
Since 2011, an impressive work has been made with Rigging Innovation, mainly with Sandy Reid, on each generation of Talon FX and on dedicated risers for canopy formation.
In heaven in the Rigging Innovations Facilities, available for the team. Assemble, pack, repairs, RI very caring for the team!
Regarding the RI containers, a new model appeared in 2012 : the Curv.
Bringing many innovations, some were transposed to the Talon FX0 of the different members of the French CF Team. In particular, it’s the case of the legpads of the Curv, particularly comfortable and adjusted that the team members of the « A » and « B » 2-way teams chose to use.
On the lasts FX0s from 2018, the side flaps were stiffened, giving the rigs a nicer look, and the magnetic riser-covers appeared. After 100 jumps of testing, the trial was conclusive regarding the canopy formation practice. The riser-covers let the risers exit without any dissymmetry (which is particularly appreciated in our discipline) and they close back in position just after the opening, eliminating the risk of a riser-cover being caught by a canopy’s leading edge.
The shape of the top reserve flap has been modified and is now flatter without any deformation caused by the reserve housing (as was the case before).
Another crucial point : the harnesses sizes. The sizes of the team members and especially the female teammates having greatly decreased since the teams from 1990/2000, we had to get harness correctly adapted to each morphology. Between the extreme, Cindy (small and light), Laurent Stéphane (high wing loading) and David (long bust, short legs), RI managed to personalize each detail so that each performer could give the best of himself. Among other things, RI shortened to the maximum the length of the harness by also reducing the size of the reserve and ripcord handle for the smallest bodies, gaining the precious centimeters required to get a properly adjusted harness.
Alexandra in her new FX0 edition 2018 and under her Tango 72, falling fast towards the green dropzone of Eloy
Finally, the last but crucial point : the simplicity of the opening sequence. Closed, the container is very nice, very« freefly friendly ». There are no gaps, nothing moves, everything is well protected. However, this doesn’t obstruct the path of the canopies, whether it is during canopy formation jumps for the main or during the periodic repack for the reserve where we test the reserve opening: once it has sprung out of the container, the pilot chute is pulled manually until the reserve has completely exited the container. The test is a success when the container, which is laid on the ground without weight, doesn’t move an inch when the reserve is pulled out…
The 2-way “A” team with the new Talon FX0
On the side of the risers, each speciality having its particularity, the work with RI continued on the development of what seem for us the most appropriate design technologically and morphologically speaking: short risers (16″ and 17 ») for Rotation and 4-way Sequential , semi-long/long risers for 2way (19″~19,5 »), stops on the fronts risers or not, « bobines », no « bobines », grip tape, big toggles, small toggles, with tubular inside or not… Even the camera guy gets his personalized risers, that’s how far we pushed the detail!!!
Soooo, the training in Eloy was really beneficial, especially concerning the equipment, and we only spoke here about RI! In the next episode, we will speak about another of our equipment manufacturers.
One particular busy jump for the 2-way “B” team with 2 video men, 1 photographer et 1 spectator !
Regarding the jumps, the 2 teams achieved their goals with around 115 jumps each. This training, very soon in the season, allowed us to make a big in-depth work and allowed each one of us to take the time needed to analyze each detail. The jumps programs were focused on small sequences, basic ones, which we tried to execute to perfection while trying each time to identify the micro-problems that interfere when they are put in « competition » moves. It was particularly the case (again!!!) of the move AD/CF which is the most time consuming transition, so the one where we have to lose the less time.
4 weeks separate the training in Eloy and the next training in France which will take place in Gap from April 07th. This break should allow each one of us to take the necessary step back and correctly assimilate the work done in Eloy.
Next episode in a few days!
The 2-way “A” team working hard with their Tango, photo Franck Eloffe