We finished the competition where we wanted to, but it started off a little rocky. Round one was full of points we struggle with, and it was the first world meet round one for Sam Lendle as a permanent inside flyer and also our new camera flyer Johnny Gunn. Although Sam has been our alternate for years, he has had a pretty steep learning curve since joining the team full-time two years ago. Our new camera Johnny has also had to work hard to get up to speed. They probably didn’t feel that they were where they wanted to be, but we are all really pleased with where they are at.
The level of participation in VFS is typically pretty small – usually around eight teams. This year, four of those teams couldn’t join the competition due to Covid reasons, so we had a total of four participating NACs (National Airsports Control).
Once we had arrived we only got seven training jumps – the only seven times three of our team have ever exited from a TurboLet – and the door is very different from a Twin Otter or a Caravan. We only really had two exits ready for the competition, so we had to decide how we were going to launch things. For most of the rounds, we launched a head down random A, then rolled into the first point.
We didn’t really get to see much of Siberia, since it was shuttles to the dropzone and then a bus to and from the nearby hotel every day. The weather was kind of what we were expecting – except when the sun did come out it was much warmer than what we thought it would be. Overall the meet was good, although the limited number of aircraft meant that we weren’t able to jump as much as we wanted to, and didn’t complete all ten rounds. Several disciplines were unable to finish – but otherwise, the competition was very good.
Next up for us is a team meeting to figure out what happens for the team going forwards – but we will continue to train and get ready for the US Nationals in October. The VFS shield and sword have now been won three times by France and three times by the USA – so maybe a fourth time is our next goal.