As with all serious events and festivals, good and timely preparations are essential. So for me and the other members of the World Cup Committee, W.C. IX started the Monday after W.C.VIII!
Re-establishing membership, and roles of the members, discussing possible locations/ organisers, finding a good chairperson for this year and, of course, learn from what had been.
Based on tradition, it would be Europe's turn to organise, and some candidates were considered. Also the possibility to enlarge WC with buggying, four line events etc.
Being re-appointed as Chief judge I knew I had to make decisions on selecting judges, on rules and on compulsories. Because I was working on it for some time, inspired by the discussions during the event in Guadaloupe, and strengthened by what had happened at the All American and World Cup, I would start with rules. Given the input from flyers, lots of judges' meetings and the experience from four World Cups, I would try to write a usable international rule book.
Selecting judges for an event like this is not a simple task. Traditionally they should come from all over the world, have international experience and be known and trusted by the flyers (and the Chief judge!). Personally I don't like to make political appointments, and the judging panel of WC8 was done in a simple manner: I just picked the ones I knew were good, ones I knew and trusted. It is essential for a panel like this to not only judge but also to contribute to the development of the sport at an occasion (effectively the only one) where the best of flying--and hopefully judging--takes place. Only people that (are willing to) understand each other can do so as a team.
It is also essential to spread the knowledge, so for WC9 I wanted new judges, at least one from each continent to be involved. In the end it proved to be very difficult. Not enough judges fulfilled the requirements.
I finished the rulebook, and started with the choice of compulsories. Former problems with the way the wind window was interpreted by teams and four line flyers, and the -European- problems with the key elements made me try to develop alternative ways to define the compulsories. Unfortunately, very late, one of the World Cup Committee members suggested use of the IRBC book, although the committee and the chief judge were not asked to be involved in the development of it, and the choice of rules/ rulebook normally is to the chief judge.
But, just in time, I finished these tasks as Chief Judge and I could inform all competitors. Well, not all, since STACK took a lot of time to finalize a proposal, which then proved to be less representative than we expected.
So WCC had to make some alterations.
In the mean time, decisions had to be made about place and date of WC9. While one of the candidates for organisation had to withdraw, I talked to people in France, from the FFVL, who already had organised that other big international event. They were interested in organising WC as well!
I got the change to convince the Dieppe Festival organisers that WC would add to the festival, knowing WC would be different and far better off as part of such a famous event. "Dieppe" would provide the field (and all around it), invite the competitors and organise their lodging. The F.F.V.L.--the French federation of free flight, organising french parapente, delta flying and kite flying--would do the organising of the actual competition and take care of the judges. Since the FFVL acted also as the french part of STACK, European contacts should not be a problem.
Since my involvement with WC9 was based on several 'roles', as WCC member, chief judge and 'assistant' to both the Dieppe organisers and the FFVL, the first ones I met when I entered Dieppe the Wednesday before WC were Jean-Louis Ducret, the vice-president of FFVL, and Serge Gaillard, one of the organisers of "Dieppe". And of course Alain Gilbert, the big force behind everything "around the field", as was proved quickly when I checked and measured the field (again) and found a phone-booth missing. He had it removed to ensure the field was big enough. It now measured 107 to 115 m, slightly larger than the 105 x 105 I requested.
Thursday was reserved for a judges' meeting, unfortunately not as extensive as I hoped for, but at least enough to cover most of the 'judging details'. The final time-schedule was made, after a last check on the weather. I only got a little nervous about the next day..
Friday, pilots' meeting. Not only for the chief judge, this is the essential start of a competition. As the only opportunity to communicate everything that was prepared in the months before, (e-)mail is not enough. So the pilots' meeting is crucial. Of course the set-up is simple: introducing the officials, explaining the rules, showing the compulsories.
But this was WC. Despite the choice of "old" rules, some things could be considered quite new, other things were never explained in rulebooks anyway, like 'margins of error'. The field, with stage-in/stage-out on the same side, assisting other competitors as ground crew and so helping your opponents, it is known to veterans, and new to others. Most competitors find it logical. The French were pleased about the standard calls by the field director, all were pleased about compulsories, and the way they would be judged. Not everybody understood the consequences of the new grid and new key-elements, but most liked the idea of losing only one-third or so of their score if they missed one. Being allowed to change kites during any break longer than one minute met little comment, so did the strictness of the timing. It would be different on the field..
And it proved I could no longer postpone learning at least one sentence in Japanese: "If you don't understand something I say, please ask ..."!
Weather and wind were not that favourable to the competitors. Despite the predicted wind-direction--nicely at an angle from the sea--winds were coming somewhat turbulently from behind the cliff and buildings. Also wind speed varied a lot. Although everybody knows it is the risk of outdoor sports, some teams were unhappily surprised with high/low winds from right/wrong directions. Having the opportunity to change kites did not make it much easier, since now it proved hard to choose!
I personally was very pleased that finally ( the last time was 1991), a six person team, Shanti Air Kite team, took on the compulsories! Description and key elements were changed (compared to the 'old' STACK compulsory book) to make it more fair and even for large and small teams. A combination of the inexperience of teams and judges with the new grid, and a not precise enough description made us withdraw the penalties on the first figure, the Cascade, but the rest seemed to work well.
Although wind was strong at the start of the competition, four lines individual ballet had to be postponed due to lack of wind. We would either do three events on Saturday, or use Sunday morning.
Saturday the wind came--again--not from a very good direction. There was some rain too. At ten o'clock I was warned that a storm would arrive at eleven, sharp. The sky and the sea did not show any signs of it (not even at eleven) but to make sure we only had a short break between two events and went on with team ballet. At the end some teams (and all officials of course) had to deal with strengthened wind and lots of rain. We had to stop, and would have four line precision on Sunday.
Teams did not leave of course. They wanted the result! Unfortunately checking the input in the scoring program took more time than anticipated.
But at four it was clear. Despite a large lead at precision, Keops, from France had to leave first place to Aftershock from Japan, who stunned everybody with their six person ballet! Since the ballet counts for 70% they got a 0.9 pts lead on Keops.
On Sunday the wind came straight from the sea (according to our weather specialist, very rare that time of year) but it soon turned about 45°. It stayed very bumpy though, making it impossible to fairly judge such key-elements as "even speed" and "turns on the spot". I had to decide to have only the technical routine done by the four lines competitors.
We did not miss it for a moment. Especially Carl Robertshaw showed things that are still hard to believe! The results show that four line flying is done at high levels all around the globe, and that it is not only a 'male' event!
Prize-giving was an event in itself. Sky Dance--not defending their title--brought in the Cup, while their ballet-music was played. Both the First Time World Cup Four Lines winner and the winning team received the specially designed trophy, and the second and third place winners received a smaller version. National hymns, flags, photographers...it certainly was the official ending of World Cup IX.
Well actually it wasn't. Again the debriefing afterwards left--at least me--with lots of things to think about. Rules to reconsider/ change/ invent; compulsories etc. But mainly how can we improve WC and other events
And of course there was the meeting for WC X...
This one was a memorable event, thanks to Serge Gaillard, the "Dieppe" organiser and the FFVL.
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