USPA Winter Board meeting, Daytona Beach, FL - The USPA Competition Committee received a complaint about the Illinois state wingsuit record set at Summerfest 2012 (a 27-way). I was not involved in the Committee's discussion, but as one of the organizers I wanted to make available the information I have. As it has been explained to me by Scott Smith, the chair of the committee, there was a technical error in the judging that was found upon zooming in on the grid several hundred percent. The error had to do with the scaling of the grid according to the 27% rule. With this rule, a designated flyer (usually the tallest person in the formation) must fit within hash marks indicating 27% of the corner-to-corner measurement of a grid square. The reasoning is that it prevents the grid from being scaled out to an infinitely large size.
To accomplish the scaling, the two marks are placed at the head and foot of the designated flyer to make sure he or she fits. In this case, the scaling seems to have included a small part of the designated flyer's camera setup and/or tail wing (to an extent not visible without extensive zooming and examination). Since this record, the rules have been clarified to exclude any part of a helmet or tail wing from the scaling process.
This was an unintentional error that three different judges missed. The record has been rescinded with best wishes from the Competition Committee for wingsuiters to go and break the 25-way record as soon as possible. Can't wait to go do it!
Lastly, I had put in a request months ago to talk about getting rid of the 27% rule. Originally, this rule was the result of a compromise between two groups who disagreed over whether the USPA should have wingsuit records at all. It was intended to solve a problem of grid scaling that applies only to 4- and 5-way formations. In my opinion, and in the many formations I have been part of, even spacing throughout a formation is a more relevant display of skill than the exact distance between flyers.
However, partly because the IPC is testing a totally different rule system starting this year and partly because so much time in the full board was taken by the wingsuit instructor rating debate, the committee was not looking to change any current rules at this meeting. This gives us time to assemble feedback for the summer Board meeting, so please send any of your thoughts about the 27% rule my way.I will post information about what the IPC is doing whenever I get that information, and will be looking for feedback on that, too.
Thanks, and I look forward to flying with everyone in the upcoming season! Peace, love, wingsuits. -T