USA FF Team Selction Qualification Change

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    I open the door, see SEN #1258, Nov 3 2008. (
    In my message I wrote:
    “In the anticipation of the elimination of the 75 minute qualification, ideas have been generated to reward those that do fly over the full two year program. Aram Schlosberg and I discussed the idea of using AmCup points to reward Finals regular round “make up time”. There are various ways this could be done but my intuition says this is too large of a change for the participants and / or TSC to accept at this time. I hope my intuition is wrong.”

    The purpose of this post is to discuss the various ideas, currently from Parker, Schlosberg and Potti. Then to drive to a consenous and send a proposal to the TSC. The forum has the ability to take Polls which will aid our closure, Think we only have about 2 weeks before the TSC inperson meeting takes place.

    I will now go find by orginal idea and post. Aram will do the same.


    Chuck Markos has also been envolved with this idea. Here is Aram’s prposal from Sept 2008. JIM

    America’s Cup Bonus Points for The Finals

    The current selection program selects a team in a single 14-round contest. To qualify, a contestant has to accumulate 75 minutes over a period of about 18 months but nothing carries over to the Finals. Time accumulation was required to increase participation in local contests.

    Selection programs in other countries are a mixture of regional contests and a one or two stage finals. This benefits fliers who do well during a longer flying season. AMA has mandated a single Final – reflecting both the size of the United States as well as the difficulty of running a series of regional Finals fairly and inexpensively.

    This proposal suggests replacing the time accumulation concept with a bonus point system based on participation in the America’s Cup. The America’s Cup is a truly national contest system distributed throughout the States, designed to encourage travel. The accumulation time period will be from January 1 following the last cycle to 45 days prior to the next Finals (approximately 20 months and 50 contests).

    The America’s Cup ranking, over the entire period will be used to generate these bonus points . According to this proposal, the top half of the scoring fliers in each class (A, B and C) would be awarded bonus points, rounded down to multiples of 5. So, if 10 bonus points are awarded in a particular class, the top ranked flier would get 10 bonus points, the second 9 and the 10th ranked one bonus point .

    Using the current America’s Cup results (January 1, 2008 to September 12th 2008) as an example, there are 33 scoring fliers in F1A, 47 in F1B and 22 in F1C. This would correspond to 15 bonus points in F1A, 20 in F1B and 10 in F1C. The number of bonus points over a longer accumulation period would probably be 5 more for each class.

    At the Finals, each bonus point is converted to one second, which could be used during the regular rounds [and the flyoffs] . For example, a flier with 4 bonus points that drops 3-seconds during a regular round would continue in the flyoffs, but not for a 5 second drop. [The same would apply to the flyoff rounds].

    As an aside, the portion of America’s Cup fliers who get points, as well as their conversion rate (one point for one second) is open for discission. The top 50% 1:1 conversion is a minimalist approach.

    The accumulation will apply to all participants – particularly to the current team members wich are now exempt. To qualify, fliers will be required to participate in at least four America’s Cup contests over this period – which means posting at least three flights . This requirement is to encourage participation in contests between Finals, consistent with the current time accumulation approach .

    The FAI junior program includes scores from multiple contests. Allowing a sliver of time (literally) to be carried over to the Finals is well within the AMA guidelines.

    Aram Schlosberg Sep 13, 2008


    The idea is a point for everyone you beat. In other words – if there N fliers, the top ranked with get N-1
    seconds, the last 0 seconds.
    My version was to do this only for the top half, so not to transfer too much “bonus time” to the Finals and apply it to the flyoffs as well. It seemed that you liked the idea but excluded the flyoffs.
    I encourage you to peruse this approach with your modifications stating
    that it evolves from an earlier idea I floated (before the Finals). It actually
    has a better chance if others advocate for it – indicating a broader support.


    2010 TS Program Proposal

    This proposal only intented to be used if the current the 75 minute qualification is dropped. The purpose is to encourage continual flying throught the Team Selection program by rewarding those that do.

    Make-up time is rewarded to the top 30 flyers using the exsisting AmCup point system. The schedule would run mid-2009 thru mid-2010 AmCup schedule to include all 30 contests. Actual start stop contest TBD.

    Participants recieve time they carry to the finals, one second plus 1 for every flyer they place above, Maximum time of 30 participants. Currently F1A and B have well over 30 AmCup participants so it’s easy– First gets 30 sec, second 29 seconds etc. Power is currently at 23 participants so for example, first gets 23 sec, second 22 seconds etc.
    If 30 seconds is deemed to be too much then change it one second for every 2 flyers ahead of, ie 15 seconds for first place.

    The key is to be inclusive of so that all get some time. Makes the idea more acceptable to more flyers. Also no restriction on the AmCup partiocipant, that is AnCup participant need NOT be entered in the program. Sence this would be a pay and fly finals, perhaps a flyer that has not been in the program could find themself at the top of the AmCup list and decide to fly at the finals.

    Make-up time could be prorated to the number of finals flown– ie the 30 second would apply if all 14 rounds are flown. If only 7 rounds were flown, then only 15 seconds would count– this is an added complexity and may not be needed.

    The real critical aspect is how the make-up time is applied. Two way to look at it.

    A. Make-up time applied only to make up for dropped time in the regular rounds to qualify for a flyoff. All in the flyoff start with equal score .

    A. Make-up time only applied to make up for dropped time in the regular rounds to qualify for a flyoff of 4 or more flyers based on the regular Finals time. All in the flyoff start with equal score

    This year would be a good example. Only one MaxOut in F1A & B. Should the they be subject to not making the team due to this “forced” fly-off? Good qustion we must deal with.

    History– 1976 program– George X’s forced 8 person flyoff program only lasted one program– had un-anticipated consequences– much of that in the detail of the times for the FO flights. My concern is the make-up time could have its own hidden demons.

    Even though I opened the door, I’m not convinced. I am interested in the higher issue of maintaining FAI FF strength through participants– perhaps there is a better way.


    For completeness, Norm Poti recently had floated a “one second for every person you beat in the America Cup” idea which would also apply to the flyoffs.

    Incorporating the America Cup [AC] contests as part of the team selection process will emphasize 2-year participation over the entire cycle. It will also reflect the relative performance of each flier since the last Finals (akin to tennis rankings). With a few exceptions, the AC is regionally well distributed. Although points can be accumulated in small contests (travel), top rankings can only be achieved by winning one of the larger contests at Lost Hills or Muncie (head to head competition). Since the AC covers a two year period, the four best results at a single site (two in the first year, two in the second year) would count.

    Personally, I would prefer that a low number of bonus points (seconds) be transferable over to the Finals. Why? Because a 30 drop should not be bonused up to the flyoffs. Smaller drops, totaling 10-15 seconds seem more tenable. More generally, a small quantity of bonus points/time will impact some of the ranking, but is unlikely to determine the whole team. Another aspect is that too many bonus points might actually discourage fliers with low AC rankings.

    Jim’s comment about the unintended consequences of the George Xenakis’s “forced flyoff” should serve as a warning flag. We really don’t know how the idea of bonus points will actually work – so a prudent approach would be to allow a small amount and only apply it to the regular rounds.

    A bonus point system is NOT as “clean” or as “democratic” as the current “wiping the slate clean” approach. BUT it slightly increases the chances that higher (AC) ranked fliers would make the team and strongly emphasizes long term participation.

    Bill Shailor

    I applaud the efforts by some to change or improve the current format, but I don’t think awarding points at America’s Cup contests are necessary in order to get to the Finals. For all intents and purposes, we really don’t even need a selection process given the low entries we have seen in recent programs. I would favor an open Finals since all one has to do now is fly at any number of sanctioned contests to accumulate time. Conceivably, you could fly in 75 contests over a two year period, scoring one minute at each and get to the Finals.
    As far as awarding “credits” to be used at a Finals in the event of a dropped round, I don’t think that is a good idea, either. Let’s say you get a total of 14 bonus points awarded to you as a result of flying in a series of America’s Cup meets. You take those points, or time, with you to the Finals. You drop 14 rounds by one second each and use your “credits” to bump all those dropped rounds to a clean score. Have you really flown as well as the guy who didn’t drop? Or better than the guy who only dropped one flight but by 15 seconds?
    The idea is to field the best team, not to get guys on the team who, by some sort of concensus, feel they should be on the team except for a few seconds. There are no Mulligans at the World Championships and we shouldn’t pick our teams using them.
    Just my 2-cents.

    George Reinhart



    It seems to me that an America Cup bonus system for gaining an advantage will cut down the number of flyers at the final contest.

    Since you have to pay $200 for the privilege of flying at the finals, why bother if you are coming in at a big disadvantage to those situated close to numerous America Cup contests and big bonus points.

    For us guys not on the West Coast, we are already at a big disadvantage, why not make it bigger?

    So if you cut the numbers down by half, that means each one of you will need to pay $400 to support the program.

    An open finals contest with no handicaps is preferred!


    Now a more positive approach to bonus points is to take the lessor/more inferior flyers, and give them an extra 60 seconds to their score at the finals. Then it would be more of a challenge for the top, elite flyers to show their superiority by overtaking them.

    A big head start for us goof offs who can only get to a few contests, would maybe bring more of us out to support the program.

    Roger Morrell

    The World Champs is tough, there are no Mulligans, it is very stressful, most times you have travelled to a foreign country, the conditions are different and flying on the team is different from normal flying. Even though our numbers may be diminishing we still have enough active FAI sportsmen of high enough standards to make up 3 or 4 teams…

    After every contest, Finals, included there will always be some hard luck stories, that’s Free Flight. Having the one contest selection tests the participant’s ability to really focus on that one tough contest, i.e. the World Champs.

    So just keep it like it is, the same rules for everyone, head to head in one contest. No questions about how at one contest the CD interpreted the rules differently or they had different weather, or flew 2 minutes maxes etc ..

    In the selection contest F1B can’t piggyback on F1A and F1C can’t piggyback on both F1A and F1B – that’s how it is at the World Champs, that’s different from most AM and World Cup events. You are always timed by an independent person, just like at the World Champs.

    Roger Morrell


    I have to agree with Roger. I am not opposed to making changes to the program, but my concern lies with the discussion around using the Americas Cup contests. These contests are not all the same. There are too many that have very few participants. As Roger, points out many are loosely run. They were not intended to be part of the team selection process. I am sorry I do not have an alternative solution to offer. I guess I am one of the nine happy guys.


    Aram and I laid out the idea. Per my post I even have reservations. If by the first day postings, this idea will not go far. OK

    I am interested in those that want or are OK with the Pay and Fly Finals? Am I being a 1/2 empty guy thinking the continual erosion of qualification to get to the Finals will quicken the death of our sport? Perhaps most have accepted this?

    In my post therapy session I asked what should I learn from those that make the team? Yes, Yes per Randy W, Did I do the “P”. I think so. What else? If you noticed, I listed the placing of the Team members in the last AmCup results. Many of team are not high in the AmCup– they have not flown many contests. Uhm– perhaps I’m too wrapped up in this FAI FF thing. Perhaps my 2009-2010 plan is to drop out of F1A– find something else to do. That tip launched glider looks fun! Then come Sept 2010 pull out the F1A box, fly a bit, pay my money and fly the finals with a new attitude. And if the Batiuk, Barron, McKeever and others that run our contests do the same?

    But that’s the catch—we won’t.

    Finished whinning.

    Rene Limberger

    For me, making a team, has always been (among other things) about rewarding a pilot to have the honor of representing their country. I had the honor of flying on several teams for several countries, and there was always a “special” feeling attached to flying on a team at the WC’s.

    Being competitive at the international level in modern FAI is very challenging. the level of performance is higher than ever so the natural team selection criteria should be performance. both types of performance should be considered, single event (peak) performance as well as consistent performance over a long timeframe.

    combining a performance based selection system with the attributes of “reward” as mentioned above is, to me, is the ultimate team selection. pilots should be selected to a team as a reward for their broad performance over the past 2 years since the last team selection.

    with the selection format like we currently have in the US, broad performance is not rewarded, therefore may be the ultimate killer of the sport.

    let me name 2 examples:

    Brian van Nest has been at the top of his game during the past 2 years since the last team selection. Brian has demonstarted, both nationally and internationally that he is one of the top pilots of today. Brian is both very consistent and capable of peak performance when it matters. Brian prepared extremely well for this years finals, i know, as i have been on his side along the way. During the SC FO, Brian, as always, offered to help me chase my model. While out chasing, Brian crashed with his motorbike, the bike’s exhaust landed on his inner leg and caused 3rd degree burns. This injury cost Brian the team – because the team is selected in a single-shot event.

    Matt Gewain, like brian, has been flying exceptionally well. I had the pleasure to watch Matt fly his self-built F1C folder at various national competitions thru out the past 2 years and Matt is top class. Like Brian, Matt isn’t on the team because of the single-shot event format.

    Both Brian and Matt are what drives our sport today. They are competitive and innovative. they make others (like me) try harder to fly as well or better than them. If we don’t reward people like Matt and Brian, we will ultimately lose them to other activities and destroy our sport.

    There is many more who’s names you could substitute for Matt and Brian, but these 2 come to mind when i think who should be on the team and isn’t.

    personally, although i have been trying hard, i cannot comprehend why we need a team selection event? there is an abundance of FAI events across the country thru out the year, and the AM Cup is a wonderful system, with well thought out point system. Like the World Cup, it is virtually impossible to win the AM Cup with small events, yet one has to attend several events. A cup system helps our sport more than a single-shot event. A cup system engages pilots thru out the year, requires them to perform well on different fields, different weather conditions, different stress situations. I cannot think of any better way to pick a team than to sample a pilots performance across 2 years of Cup contests.

    I think the “standard” at which these events are run is not so important. I can tell you from personal experience that you cannot place well in the AM Cup unless you fly well, regardless of contest quality.

    I love the FF community in the US. It is a wonderfully diverse group of people from all walks of life. Every time i am out on the filed i learn something new. We each drive each other to better performance. The more times we fly together the better for all of us. Why take this away and simmer it down to a single weekend? why not compete for 2 years to gain a team spot?

    ok, if you excuse me now, i have to go back and finish my Luxembourg team application. 🙂




    I heard the Duchy of Grand Fenwick is looking for a F1A flyer 😀

    I took a different approach to flying the America’s Cup contests this year. I left my best models in the box for most of these contests and choose to save them for the finals. Primarly because I fly in the Midwest where the risk of damage is high with trees, crops, small fields and I did not have time to make major repairs.

    Until last year Alex Andriukov was not in the top 3 of America Cup results.

    My point being that you can not use the past America’s Cup contest results as the baseline for selecting the team. Because some people have different strategies for getting ready for the finals. Had the America Cup counted for the team selection I would have developed a different approach as I am sure many others would have as well.

    At the end of the day, I love flying and competing. This is my first team. I hope it’s not my last. As I said I am ok with change. So what ever the team selection criteria is I will develop a strategy to perform at the best of my abilities to make that team.


    Conceptually one could start the meter running with a series of a selected large contests, accounting for 1/3 of the score – as suggested by Chuck Markos; use the American Cup [AmCup] rankings for a tiny bonus whiff – as suggested above; or start the meter at the Finals’ first horn as we do now. Had we been using any of these three approaches and were considering a switch, many respondents would have cries foul! We like the system (the first/second /third) as it is, it works well, so don’t change a thing!

    Two arguments have been leveled against the proposed change. First, that replacing the current “75-minutes throw away qualification” with something akin to the AmCup will cause a precipitous drop in participation. A variant is that AmCup contests are not tightly run. A (reasonable) reconfiguration of the qualifying system is unlikely to change the composition of the Finalists, in my opinion. And, although there probably is some rule bending at AmCup contest by friendly timers (the roving model-less binoculars), they are likely to diminish when rankings starts to matter.

    The second argument is that the new format offers Mulliagns and is not as tough as a World Championship. Well, starting the meter running earlier (before the Finals) should not be confused with any Mulligans, and if you are maxed out on the first day, I doubt if you will sleep much before the next day of flying.

    In fact, the unique feature of the “bonus time approach” is that it actually integrates the Finals with the whole flying seasons – spanning almost two years. Integration requires some sort of accumulation or transfer between the two halves. Conceptually, instead of using AmCup rankings, we could count the number of AmCup contests attended, or tally the distance traveled to AmCup contests as a way to integrate the two. (Both are rather silly in my opinion).

    As such, other qualifying approaches are inferior. The current “75-minutes throw away qualification” is a stand alone, while the “pay your way in” approach might replenish the FFTS coffers, but at the expense of less contest flying between the Finals. However, as one of my bosses used to say, like any poison, the “bonus time approach” only works in small quantities (up to about 20 seconds and only in the regular rounds, as noted above).

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