2010 USPPA Sanctioned Competition at Beach Blast
2010 Mar 29 John Black's Beach Blast | See also Competition
I've proposed a slight change to the scoring method employed by the FAI.
Their scoring is based on running lots of tasks many times. The winner
of each task is awarded a huge benefit which can double his score. But
in this event, where the task is one of only 4, that would be an unfair
advantage. So the method that I've proposed is a more linear progression
of points to the best times and makes sure that you have to get the
Here is the spreadsheet to try. It only
allows 5 pilots but you can game it with different numbers of points.
First for me since Italy
It looks like I'll competing for the first time since Italy. I couldn't
fly at the Paratoys event since I ran it, but now Eric Dufour will play
Competition Director. John Black is the driving force of both this
competition and the event, a rather amazing second running of the public
beach Fly-in near Panama City, FL.
Having Eric as comp directly means another thing: someone else is
gonna win! Eric is the USA's winningest pilot and, after seeing his
Paratoys cloverleaf, he would have won that, too. But he's not competing
(honoring a promise to his wife). Plus, the entire judge team is
exquisite. CC Moisant is sharing the Judging responsibility with Eric's
wife, Elisabeth who, besides being skill pilots, are extremely dedicated
to being accurate and fair. That's what we need. I've worked with them
as an organizer and competitor, (been DQ'd by them, too), and have
always been impressed by their drive.
If everything goes right, this will be the largest competition we've
ever had. My hat is off to John Black for stepping up to a very large
plate. Hopefully he won't get indigestion
Since competitions are weighted (the more competitors, the more points
they're worth), this event may decide the U.S. National Champion.
However, points are additive for two events. So someone who competed at
Paratoys will have the greatest chance of winning the U.S. Title by also
competing here. With so few competitions that doesn't seem fair because
it favors a pilot who can travel over one who can't. But how else to
deal with it? As with many other sport's competition series, that's just
how the ball drops. The intent is to establish consistency so that the
cream rises in scoring.
I'm helping set up the thing but will have no part in running it other
than whatever they ask me to do. I'll gladly offer advice to anyone who
wants it and we plan on giving a thorough briefing beforehand so pilots
can know about strategies.
There will be a practice, probably on Thursday or Friday and possibly
followed by a run of the event. There may be another running of the
event on another day and then the pilot's best one-day score is used.
The scores are not mixed and matched. You can choose either day one or
two. That's to reward consistency. Or the scores may be averaged but
whatever method used will be determined before it starts so as to avoid
favoring any one competitor.
No set schedule has been made although one possibility is:
1100am briefing and check
of pilot registration
1145 practice run of full
competition complete with scoring.
1230 judges brief and go
over what transpired with pilots then the real thing.
1300 Competition 1st Run.
1145 Competition 2nd Run.
We'll fly the same tasks as before with one major change: instead of a
cloverleaf, we're doing the Japanese Slalom which makes more sense for a
beach site. I'll get a description of the task along with strategies up
shortly. Along with 100 other things to do.
Get your wing situated, wall built (if applicable) and, once cleared to
launch, do so without letting the wing touch down. If it does, or you
abort, reset and try again. You simply get fewer points if a launch is
started then the wing touches down again.
If it's light wind, you'll be better served by doing a forward since, if
you try a light wind reverse and have the wing come up then down several
times, that counts against you.
Slow / Fast
The purpose of this is to
reward accurate control at both maximum and minimum speeds. It's
simple--fly a straight through the Japanese Slalom in-line sticks as
slow as you can then come around and do the same thing as fast as you
can. You're timed on each run and the highest ratio scores
Note that you cannot be
observed by the judges to be doing any S-turning during the slow part of
the course. Normal corrections for turbulence are obviously OK but don't
try intentionally S-turning. There's not much room for it, anyway, since
the kicking sticks are only 50 meters apart.
A fast wing is penalized
because a 10 mph difference in speed will score a higher ratio at slower
speeds. 20/30 isn't as high a ratio as 20/10.
Part of why we use this task
is to reward slow wings which otherwise struggle in the slalom race.
Don't put too much emphasis on it because this task doesn't for much as
the slalom or landing.
Three 2-meter tall sticks are laid out in a straight line 50 meters
apart from each other, arrayed down the beach. Then another is placed 50
meters inland (or a bit less depending on room available) from the
Time starts with the first kick of stick one and ends with the last kick
The judges must see you clearly either hit a stick (with your body or
paramotor) or go around it as appropriate. Hitting the stick with your
lines does not count. Touching anything other than the sticks is
disqualifying. I'd like to see this rule change to: "being unable to
complete the task for any reason scores 0" since determining if a pilot
touched, when he may have barely done so, is difficult to judge. We'll
You've got two attempts to kick the first and last sticks and only one
attempt at every other stick. So if you miss a stick, other than the
first or last kick, don't go back and try to hit it.
This is the international scoring method. It will be adjusted to fit
USPPA's weighting and that spreadsheet will be publicized so pilots can
game the thing. For one thing, how the tasks are weighted might affect
your choice of wings.
N = number of
targets kicked or passed correctly. Flying in the wrong order will
result in a big penalty since you'll only get credit for those done
in the right order.
T = time from
first to last kick.
Q = N^3 / T
Pq = 500 * Q /
Ps = 500 – 30 * (T
– Tpmin). Minimum Ps = 0; if N < 9, Ps = 0.
P = Pq + Ps
Note: Q = pilot score,
Qmax = best score for the task, P = Total score
I know this looks unduly
complicated but the point is to make it fair and, unfortunately,
there's more to that than meets the eye. This is what FAI came up
with and, after playing around with various scoring methods, it's
Climb up to 500 feet, shut off your motor, do at least one FULL 360
degree turn so the judges can see it, then land on the target AND STOP.
Obviously you get more points for closer touchdowns. But there is a
penalty for the pilot who travels a long way after touching. So among
two pilots who nail it, the one who travels LESS does better.
The touchdown point is considered the FIRST foot that touches. If both
feet touch at the same time, and one is on the target, you've scored a
bullseye. If neither foot hits the target (a Frisbee or similar) then
the farthest point on the farthest foot is used. If your feet go touch -
touch, separated by a half-second (such that it's obvious to the
judges), then it's the first touch that counts.
This stuff really is a lot of fun. Yes pilots are competitive but we've
always had a great group and lots of war stories afterwards. If you're a
PPG2 level pilot with at least 50 flights, you should consider entering.
It's only $20 (advance) or $30 and a USPPA membership if you're not
already a member. I heartily recommend it.
This is the best possible combination of judges you could ever want and
it will be run as fair as humanly possible. One requirement is that
competitors are NOT allowed to approach the judges while the competition
is running. And remember, they're doing this as volunteers, they're
doing it for you, to the best of their ability, so be courteous. Hey,
I've had disagreements and have even been DQ'd by one of these folks
(I'll not mention any names!) but recognize that they're calling the
shots like they see them. And I REALLY appreciate their willingness to
sacrifice time for our benefit. A word of appreciation goes a long way
(but it won't improve your score).
Overall it should be a great
time. See ya there!