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4 Way Rotations

Home Up 4 Way Rotations 4 Way Sequential 8 Way Speed 2 Way Sequential


[ Quad ] [ Stealing Slots ] [ Rotations Intro ] [ Pilot ] [ Exit/Leave ] [ Recover ] [ Approach ] [ Dock ] [ Catch ] [ Brakes ] [ Heading ]

    CRW Rotations . .

    Click here for 4 Way Rotations competition rules.

Building a Quad

    Currently (2005), the rules allow up to 30 seconds to build the first quad on a rotations jump. Most of the top teams try to build a 3 way within 15 to 20 seconds. This allows time for the 3 way to settle and the 4th person to make a clean, no momentum dock. The stable formation sets up the the first rotator with an easy, still target.

The build can be broken down into several components:

  1. Pre-exit preparedness.
  2. Base - pin exit.
  3. 3rd exit.
  4. 4th exit.
  5. Base -pin docking.
  6. 3rd docking.
  7. 4th docking
  8. commencing the rotations.

Stealing A Slot

    Whilst being the first to a formation may be exhilarating, it is not necessarily the best thing to do for the team. 


    The technique for CRW rotations varies from team to team and even between individuals within a team. It will depend on wing loading, flying characteristics of the canopy, personal injuries or deficiencies, atmospheric conditions, compatibility, etc. The list of variables is endless. However, the objective in rotations is to have a common team purpose, to maximise equipment compatibility, and then to achieve as much discipline and consistency as possible.

    Each task in a rotations jump has an impact on someone else attempting to perform another task. A person who rotates in record time but dramatically upsets the equilibrium of the formation with a poor dock will gain a few seconds for himself but lose many more seconds for the team.

    Stack discipline is the most important factor in improving a teams rotations performance. Most people think that the speed of the rotator is the most important thing. Many lessor experienced jumpers focus on rotations speed at the expense of stack discipline. Why is this an incorrect philosophy?

    It is much easier for a rotator to move quickly from the top of the formation to the bottom if the formation has very predictable & consistent movements. It is also easier for the catcher to regain control of his canopy and the formation as he heads to the pilot role if the person who docks on him does so with minimal momentum and maximum cleanliness. To draw a parallel, excellent stack discipline allows the rotator to have an easy target to dock on. It is like playing darts with a stationary board versus a moving board.

    The easiest way to achieve a goal is to break down the goal into simpler, more manageable steps. This same philosophy can be applied to CRW Rotations. Hence the reason for the following diagram. The CRW Rotations 8 point wheel breaks down each rotation into simpler steps and allows people to understand what their responsibilities are throughout a CRW Rotations jump. 

    The following is my perception of a combination of personal experience and a strategy taught to the 2003/04 Australian Team - Crimson Mist, by legendary American CRW parachutists,  Fio Antognini and Jim Cowan. These two guys are awesome coaches and canopy pilots. Thanks for your wisdom. The following assumes a faster paced team in competition mode. The strategy will be different during earlier stages and training.


  • stacked position (feet under bottom skin at A lines).
  • maintain heading.
  • squat on top (bend knees). Sit on the second canopy.
  • load up on brakes (toggle tension) as required to control descent rate and forward speed of the formation.
  • position feet so that they are ready to leave. Ensure all suspension lines are untangled.
  • be ready to exit ("explode") off the top in a controlled manner.
  • it stops with me.
  • keep your ears & eyes open for your key/signal to begin your rotation.  

Exit / Leave

  • do not lose sight of the formation at any stage.
  • be prepared for variations in descent rate, forward speed, and heading changes.
  • do not affect/distort the canopy below you as it will affect its flying characteristics and make your job harder.
  • give one strong input on the outer toggle. You can use the drag technique here to reduce the distance you travel from the formation. This entails leaving your feet in the canopy below you as you begin to make your first input. 
  • whilst this toggle is still down, commence another strong input on the inner toggle. If dragging, you should already have your feet out by now. Otherwise the reserve packer is going to be busy. ;)
  • release the outer toggle first, followed by the inner toggle. These toggle inputs should be made in fractions of a second.
  • when you release the inner toggle you must initiate front riser input as soon as possible. This is the "explosion" referred to above. This is where you gain seconds per rotation and maintain control of your wing (parachute).
  • minimise pendulum action as you lose a great deal of time whilst suspended under an unloaded & inefficiently flying canopy.
  • pull your knees up when leaving as this reduces the impact of any pendulum action and it also helps with the force of input on the front riser.


  • accelerate down the side of the formation by maintaining your front riser input. The input is only required for a very short time and its magnitude (time & force) will depend on your position relative to the formation. You should be positioned outside the formation away from the burble/turbulence of the formation you are rotating on.
  • let up on your risers as you approach a predefined point between the top two canopies. It is important not to front riser for too long as you will pass your docking position. This is another common area where people lose time as they travel once down past the formation, stop, and then have to travel back up a little.
  • be ready for any variations in the flight characteristics of the formation you are rotating on.
  • be ready to respond to variations in the flight characteristics of your canopy. 


  • when you reduce your riser input and progress to your toggles, try to make a smoother transition. A deep front riser input followed by a large toggle input will undermine the flying characteristics of your canopy. This will all depend upon your position relative to the formation.
  • as you release your risers, begin to introduce some toggle input. Alter your heading so that it corresponds with the formation you are docking onto.
  • throughout this process, position your canopy such that it never flies behind the formation until you make your final approach. This means moving one canopy out to the side and one canopy length backwards on the exit. Then risering down the side at an angle (heading back towards the centreline) to the formation. Then you should make the final approach by positioning your canopy just underneath that of the person you are docking on.
  • finally square up and begin matching your flying characteristics to the formation as you get close.
  • signal the catcher that you are getting close.


  • DO NOT dock with momentum.
  • if the approach is looking good, call for the next rotation a few feet out.
  • put the centre A lines into the hands of your catcher.
  • match the flying characteristics of your canopy with the formation you are docking onto.
  • dock in the same direction that the formation is flying. 
  • ensure your canopy is above the head of the catcher. This is to present better to the judges and to minimise the workload of the catcher (he does not have to move down your lines for a low dock or get his feet into your lines for a high dock).
  • do not do a riser dock as it can sometime be difficult to get your feet into the lines. A line dock is best.
  • apply brakes as required or requested by the catcher.


  • keep a visual on the rotator. Look at the lines you are supposed to be catching as they approach you.
  • present both your arm and leg for the rotator so that he has a bigger target to aim at.
  • if the approach & your catch is looking good, call for the next rotation before the rotator hits you.
  • ensure you initiate some limb movement as you call for the next rotation.
  • catch with both your feet and hands if possible.
  • keep your hands down when catching (i.e. try to catch below your hips and not above your head).
  • ensure that your catching is VERY visible to the judges - minimal movement will create uncertainty.
  • in competition, DO NOT DROP ANYTHING.
  • move down the lines quickly and in a symmetrical fashion. 
  • Do not pull the lines out in front of you at any stage as this will alter the flying characteristics of the canopy that has docked onto you (it will probably increase its relative descent rate).
  • if you have to deal with a momentum dock, sometimes it is beneficial to allow the lines to run through your hands as it passes you. If you lock your grip at the first point of contact, the dock may induce too much downward force on the formation which will lead to the second and third person spreading apart. It may also induce a swing if the momentum is sideways.
  • do not put your feet under cross connectors as you will have to take them out in a few seconds.


  • the person who docked onto you should apply sufficient brakes to assist you in moving down the lines (if required).
  • get onto your toggles as quickly as possible and apply sufficient brakes.
  • if you are moving up the lines due to excess wing loading, lock onto the centre A lines. Lock on both centre lines above your head or jam your first under the bottom skin of the canopy above (full arm stretch).
  • you can also put your arms under the bottom skin of the canopy above you and force yourself to stay down.


  • as the person above you exits, start your movement upwards. Give the rotator just enough space to get behind the formation before commencing your journey to pilot.
  • slide up the lines evenly whilst maintaining heading. One technique is to choose a feature on the horizon before you start moving up the lines. Then keep heading towards that feature. It is difficult to maintain heading whilst looking straight down.
  • this is another area where time is lost. People lose track of heading which makes the job of the rotator difficult. If the dock was bad, it makes the catch difficult. Then you have to deal with lines as you are heading towards pilot.
  • ensure your toggle pressure is even on both sides and that you are balance in your harness.
  • If the formation is swinging, do not try to correct the swing as you will more than likely make it worse. It takes incredible timing to dampen a swinging tail.
  • toggles in hand.
  • be ready to be formation pilot.



Following are notes & other ideas relevant to this section that require further development. Please ignore.

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This site is developed and maintained by Tom Begic. Send mail to Tom with any feedback.
Copyright 2005 OzCRW. Last modified: May 16, 2005