FAI Sailplane Grand Prix RSA SGP 2020 - Round 2 Qualifier

By Bennie Henning

FAI Sailplane Grand Prix - Series 10

The Federation Aeronautique International (FAI) Sailplane Grand Prix Series 10 - Round 2 Qualifier for the South Africa SGP 2020 was held at the Potchefstroom Airfield, North West, from the 4th to the 11th of January 2020. Fourteen of the world's best sailplane pilots competed for the coveted title of South African SGP 2020 Champion. The winner goes through to the SGP World Final event in St Auban in France from 1 to 30 September 2021.

FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix Championships are gliding competitions promoted by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) that is a concept of racing in sailplanes that is both more spectacular and more easily understood by the public than conventional soaring competitions.

In a Sailplane Grand Prix, the gliders race close together around a pre-set task. A smaller number of competitors reduces the risks of the simultaneous start. A place-scoring system provides rewards for excellence in a simple and easily understood format:

· A race is typically 2-3 hours in duration and between 200 and 300 km in length.
· All sailplanes start at the same time (similar to a yacht race or Motor Grand Prix).
· The sailplanes must cross the short virtual start line above the airfield not below a set height and not faster than a set maximum speed.
· The start / finish line is close to the airfield so that spectators can observe it.
· Sailplanes race around the course. No team flying is permitted. The first one home wins as they all started at the same time and there is no handicapping.
· A place scoring system is used, with 1 point for every finisher you beat and the option of a bonus point for coming home first (similar to the F1 Grand Prix).
· The Competitions is held over several days and pilots accumulate points over the contest days. On each of the race days the top nine pilots are awarded points according to their position, the pilot amassing the most points by the end of the contest is the winner.

The purpose of a Sailplane Grand Prix is to make the sport of gliding more spectacular for the general public. This event is a great way for the South African Public to get to know the sport of soaring. This is especially important because one of the world's top Sailplanes, the JS3 Rapture that is manufactured in Potchefstroom, was used by 7 of the 14 sailplane pilots. Some of the world's top sailplane racing pilots competed in this race along with South African current National Gliding Champion and previous World Champion, Oscar Goudriaan, who was flying in a JS3 Rapture with a 34 kg thrust jet turbine, if needed to sustain flight in abnormal conditions.

AKA Vliegklub Gliding Club House

Starting Grid

The competition was held over an eight day period with all the competitors being given the same task to complete for the day, depending on the weather, tasks were either named A, B and even C.

Day 1 of the competition: 4 January

Task: Race 1A - Distance 255.84 km. 001 Potchefstroom - 032 Hartbeesfontein - 249 Rietpan - 009 Lekwena - 001 Potchefstroom.

Day 2 of the competition: 5 January

Task: Race 2A - Distance 140.35 km. 001 Potchefstroom - 020 Vierfontein - 211 Kommandodrif - 003 N12 Traffic - 001 Potchefstroom.

Day 3 of the competition: 6 January

Task: Race 3A - Distance 269.92 km. 001 Potchefstroom - 067 Lichtenburg - 035 Intersection - 009 Lekwena - 001 Potchefstroom.

Day 4 of the competition: 7 January

Cancelled due to inclement weather.

Day 5 of the competition: 8 January

Cancelled due to inclement weather.

Day 6 of the competition: 9 January

Task: Race 6B - Distance 103.64km. 001 Potchefstroom - 007 New Machavie - 211 Kommandodrif - 009 Lekwena - 001 Potchefstroom.

Day 7 of the competition: 10 January

Cancelled due to inclement weather - No contest.

Day 8 of the competition: 11 January

Cancelled due to inclement weather.

Tug Plane Launch

All competitors had minimum altitude limits for the start and finish which was 1500m (above airfield level) and 100m (above airfield level) respectively. Time was added if the height restriction or maximum ground speed of 170 km/h was exceeded which was as much as 80 seconds.

Rob Tiffin (South Africa) was the 1st to be launched on the Saturday

Maximilian Seis (France)

Dirk Windmüller (Germany)

Louis Bouderlique (France)

Eric Bernard (France)

Philippe de Pechy (France)

Marcus Nouwens (South Africa)

Oscar Goudriaan (South Africa)

Petr Panek (Czech Republic)

Ulrich Messmer (Switzerland)

Klaus Kalmbach (Germany)

Laurens Goudriaan (South Africa)

Yves Gerster (Czech Republic)

Anders Anderson (Denmark)

Eric Bernard (France) crossing the finish line

Dirk Windmüller (Germany) crossing the finish line

Anders Anderson (Denmark) crossing the finish line

Marcus Nouwens (South Africa) crossing the finish line (last day)

After many hours of flying in less than favourable weather conditions this week for South Africa, the competition was overall concluded with Days 4 and 5 and Days 7 and 8 being cancelled due to inclement weather / no contest. According to FAI rules even if there is only four days of results, the competition is valid, and for a day's task to be valid, only one aircraft has to complete the task.

Oscar Goudriaan (South Africa) walked away with the honors to be the South Africa SGP 2020 Round 2 Qualifier champion with 32 points followed by Louis Bouderlique (France) with 22 points and Marcus Nouwens (South Africa) in third place with 19 points. Well done Oscar Goudriaan for competing against the best sailplane pilots in the world. This event was well organised and handled professionally by all involved. Efficiency was of the highest standard.

For more information about the Sailplane Grand Prix, visit the website at www.sgp.aero. Next event is in Viticura, Chile for the 3rd Qualifying Round of Ten for the 10th Series of the FAI SGP.

Events 2020

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