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CRW (Canopy Relative Work)

A short history of canopy formations

Canopy formations, or like it’s still often called, CRW (Canopy Relative Work) began in the mid 70’s. It is believed that Bobby Gray and Mike ”Beanpole” Barber made the world first 2-way in 1975. After that we have seen a lot of different and bigger formations.

In the beginning jumpers made vertical formations by using the top dock method. Quite soon they saw that it became hard to dock once the formation grew bigger than a 4-way. A group of jumpers calling themselves the ”Know-Sense Team” developed a new way to build formations. They started to use docking from below, and it became possible to build even bigger formations.

The first 8-stack was made in Livermore, CA on October 23, 1977. ”Know-Sense Team” needed four attempts to complete it. Tom Courbat was organizing and Norton Thomas was the first to get his CCS (”Canopy Crest Soloist”, an award for jumpers who have docked eighth or later in a formation).

At the end of June 1978 only eight 8-ways had been built. All of them had members of the ”Know-Sense Team”participating. On July the 19th, jumpers from Thun Field, WA built the first 9-stack.

Also in 1978, the first European 8-stack was done. Jumpers from Belgium made it in Maubeuge, France. The vertical formations started to grow. Soon 10-, 11- and 12-stacks were seen in the skies. The next record, a 13-way, was the first time the record was taken out of the USA. This 13-plane was built in England 1980. Since then, the records have been broken again and again. The current world record is a 100-way diamond made in November 21, 2007!

Since 2007, there had not been any big way record attempts. But now we have two other big way categories, both sequential. There are full brake and normal (35% rule) sequential big way CF record categories.

Even nowadays, only a few countries have built national 16-ways or bigger complete diamonds: Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, Switzerland and USA. Also, there had been multinational 16-way or bigger formations over Dubai, Qatar, Belgium, Brazil, China, Portugal and Spain.

Competitions began also quite early. The first major CRW competition was held in Zephyrhills, FL. The competition was held from October 27 to November 4, 1979. All the participating teams were from the USA. There were two events, 4-way rotation and 8-way speed. The first World Cup competition was held in Zephyrhills also. The year was 1980. The US Nationals included CRW in 1982 and the first World Championships were held in Gatton, Australia in 1986.

About 20 years later, there was not enough teams in 8-way speed. So, it is now retired. Nowadays there are 2-way sequential CF and rotation in World Parachuting Championships. The 4-way sequential are still official event but future show if it will have same destination than 8-way speed.

About the author

I am skydiver from Finland. I started skydiving in 1986, and since then I have done more than 4 600 jumps; more than 3 500 of them are CRW / CF. I took part in the 46-, 50-, 53-, 64-, 65- and 100-way world records and I organized the 17-way Nordic record.

Please enjoy reading about the history of canopy formations on the site, and do let me know if you know of some piece of CF history that is missing from the pages.

CRW history collector, CFPasi