One of the classic forms of formation skydiving competition is experiencing renewed popularity. Ten-way speed—in which 10 jumpers work to build a formation in the shortest time—is making a comeback. The DC-3 10-Way Speed Money Meet, hosted by Skydive Arizona in Eloy during the last weekend in December, is an indication of the new energy surrounding the discipline. Nine teams entered the two-day meet, which drew competitors from throughout the United States, as well as other countries. This event came on the heels of a 10-way competition the month before at the International Skydiving Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida that attracted 11 teams.
The meet at Skydive Arizona attracted prominent organizers and jumpers including Niklas Hemlin, Mark Kirkby, Shoobi Knutson, Ellen Monsees, Jimbob Slocum and Steve Woodford. Woodford, a longtime organizer and competitor, organized the meet. In recent years, he has coupled his passion for 10-way with Skydive Arizona’s unique capabilities to create an increasingly popular annual event. Adding to the fun and uniqueness of the event, the legendary Jones family—jumping under the supervision of family patriarch Bill Jones—entirely comprised one team. Not only did the meet attract 90 jumpers, it also saw significant performance improvements within a year. All four of the top-finishing teams had scores that would have taken the meet the year before.
The meet consisted of six rounds—two each from a DC-3, a Skyvan and a Twin Otter. Rules allowed floaters on the Otter jumps but not the others. While being a speed meet, it also had a significant sequential component. The first point on each jump was a star (or round), and then each jump had prescribed formations the teams could build to improve their scores. Each formation completed after the first point and within 40 seconds resulted in a one-second deduction from the time to complete the first point.
From the beginning of the meet, some teams were getting first points in fewer than 16 seconds. The points completed afterward proved to be significant in determining the outcome of the meet. One team even built six points after its speedstar and within the 40-second window. Four teams ultimately competed for the podium. The difference in the final adjusted times between the first and the fourth team was only 5.07 seconds.
The story of the meet—other than lots of fun and two days of perfect, if chilly, weather—was the impressive first-place team, Seek This! Not only did Seek This! beat its closest competition by a full two seconds, it did it in amazing fashion. The team—the first in the event’s history to be all female—scored the fastest six-round average in the history of the meet and also had the fastest speedstar builds from each of the three aircraft. And finally, they were the first team to ever build six points in time after the speedstar.
The members of Seek This! were Alison Bawden, Beth Bryan, Leigh Estabrook, Debbie Franzese, Michelle Haramon, Julie Kleinwort, Ginger Kuhlman, Monsees, Valerie Thal-Slocum, Bekie Thompson and Lisa Walker. (The team consisted of 11 members due to an alternate stepping in on day two.) John Lyman flew video.
Woodford reports that six teams have already confirmed for the meet in December 2019, which he’s limiting to 12 teams. For this event, Woodford is planning to include an open and intermediate division instead of just one division. Jumpers can find more information about the meet on the DC-3 10-Way Speed Meet page on Facebook.
Jim McCormick | D-12379
Estes Park, Colorado