[Courtesy of Branwell McClory branwell_m "at" yahoo.com, July 1999]
I just attended my first IMAC contest as a competitor. Here are some of the things I learned that some of you that are considering competing might find useful.
The first thing is that a good caller is invaluable.
So, you have practiced the sequence, all is well, then you step up in front of the judges. Suddenly it's like you've taken a brain fade pill.
Having a good caller will solve this little problem. Have the caller call roll direction especially on cross-box maneuvers. Have the caller call maneuver placement like center, end box ect. If you have a "Sharks tooth" maneuver, get him to call the up line if you aren't familiar with it. I.E. Is the first part of the maneuver a 45 degree up or a 90 degree up.
If you haven't worked with the caller before, get one of those little stick planes and hand fly the sequence with the caller. Work out any issues you might have with the language of the sequence and change it if it makes it easier for you or the caller. If there are several segments to a maneuver and you are not quite sure of the flow, get the caller to walk you through it.
Get a calm person to be your caller. If you're half rattled, getting a rattled caller is not going to help you much.
The unless you are totally familiar with the sequence, the caller is just as important as you. You need to work with the caller as a team.
In Free Style: Treat the free style as you would the sequence part of the event. Write down your sequence and have your caller call it. Don't just wing it. If you haven't flown it much to the music, write in queues to the sequence that the caller can call that will help you with the flow. If you rely a lot on 3D, have a backup sequence if the weather is not appropriate for 3D, i.e. windy.
Fill all 4 criteria of the free. Focusing on just one of the 4 won't be enough to make up for neglect in the other three.
Read the rules and be familiar with them.
Any way, I really enjoyed my self, meet some good people and learned a lot. A good success.