Potchefstroom in the North West Province once again hosted the National Glider Championships from the 4th to the 12th of October. In a break from the norm SSSA decided to split the National Gliding Championships into two separate competitions, one for the 15m, 2 Seaters and Club Class and later in the year the 18m, Open and Sports Class will compete in Welkom. Many of the top 18m pilots also enjoy competing in the 15m class but rarely get the opportunity.
Friday morning, 4 October, saw all the competitors arriving and assembling their gliders ahead of the official practise planned for later that same day. The conditions for the practise flight brilliant except for quite a nasty cross wind that kept the pilots very busy on take-off. The visiting pilots made the most of the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the Potchefstroom area.
Day one of the competition arrived and Potchefstroom Airfield was alive with crews doing their final preparation for a stiff eight competition that lay ahead. Every morning of the competition starts off with a weather and safety briefing for all the pilots in Potchefstroom’s wonderful clubhouse. At the briefing all the competitors are given their tasks for the day on the first day of competition the 15m Class were give a task of just over 500km with the Club Class and 2 Seaters both having to complete a task of 400km. The wind from the previous day had subsided and conditions were perfect for a great day flying, some of the pilots made the most of the amazing lift and managed to climb to altitudes of 15 000 ft for the start of their tasks.
The first day belonged to the Potchefstroom locals with Oscar Goudriaan, taking top honours with a speed of 179.5 km/h, in the 15m Class and Phillip Jonkers cleaned up the Club Class with an impressive speed of 127km/h, Natalie Luebben, flying solo in her 2 Seater manged a speed of 160km/h. the high speeds achieved opened the championships in the best way possible and everyone was looking forward to an amazing week.
Day 2 of the championships promised even better conditions than the previous day and everyone was chomping at the bit to get out there and fly. The take-off time was brought forward as there was a possibility of isolated showers later in the afternoon, so, by 10am the gliders were already gridded and ready to go. The days tasks took the gliders out to the North West of Potchefstroom a total of 406,95 km for the 15m Class and 264.72km for both the 2 Seaters and Club Class.
15 meter Class Task Day 2
Uys Jonker won the day in the 15m Class with a distance of 508 km and a speed of 169 km/, Natalie Luebben once again took top honours in the 2 Seater Class with an impressive speed of 146,6 kph and a distance of 435 km. In the Club class Wilhelm Mosehuus managed 323 km with a speed 119.8 km/h.
The weather had the final say on the third day of the competition with the Club Class task being abandoned, the 15m and 2 Seater Class did finally get to fly, albeit a much shorter task of only 140.68km. Oscar Goudriaan once again took top spot in the 15m Class with a speed of 166 km/h, Arjan Schaap and Riaan Denner came in first in the 2 Seater Class with a speed of 139,1 km/h. Everyone went to bed hoping for better weather the following day.
Arjan Schaap and Riaan Denner
All the pilot’s hopes weren’t realised and the weather on day four was not much better than the previous day. Due to the lack of lift it was decided to once again fly the alternative tasks of 375.1 km for the 15m Class and 305.4 km for both the Club and 2 Seater Classes. Unfortunately one of the Club Class pilots had to do an out landing due to the lack of lift, one of the 2 Seaters had a very scary landing, just making it over the trees at the threshold of the runway, speaking to them later they revealed that they didn’t think they would make it but had to try as there was nowhere else to land.
On the Grid
In the 15m Class Uys Jonker managed to sneak home in first place with a disappointing 121.44 km/h, Uys’ son Phillip, took top honours in the Club Class with a speed of 97.55 km/h. In the 2-seater class it was again Natalie Luebben’s turn to win the day at 120,27 km/h.
Day 5 dawned and the weather was still playing a major factor in the competition, the launch was once again delayed, finally at about midday the gliders were launched. The cold front making its way north was really causing challenging conditions for all the pilots and this was represented in the speeds for the 426,25km 15 m Class and 348.41km Club and 2 Seater Class Tasks.
Attie Jonker manged to extract the best result in the 15m Class with a speed of 162.64km/h, Jaco Burger manged a speed of 114,89 km/h to win the Club Class and Natalie Luebben once again took the 2 Seater Class with a speed of 128,88km/h.
The Tasks on Thursday were cancelled due to the terrible weather, a decision that wasn’t taken lightly many aircraft, glider and powered were sent up to asses the conditions and with the combination of minimal lift and deteriorating visibility the final call was made.
The weather had definitely changed now as the front had well and truly arrived; everyone was walking around in winter jackets as the temperatures had dropped drastically overnight. The cloud base was very low but was expected to rise to about 11000ft later in the day so everyone was still hopeful that some flying could take place. Launching started at 12:30 and took longer than usual as one of the tug planes could not be used, as a result of the delay it was decided that a shorter task would be flown. Three of the competitors decided to abandon the task as the conditions weren’t anywhere close to good, one pilot had to do an out landing. The majority however did manage to complete the task making it viable to count towards the overall competition scores.
Oscar Goudriaan managed the best performance in the 15m Class with a speed of 140.16 km/h and distance 280,48 km, in the Club class Phillip Jonker won the day with a credible speed of 101,18 km/h and a distance of 177.06 km. Natalie Luebben joined by Linda Hutchings on the day managed 238,07 km at 79.36 km/h to once again come out tops in the 2 Seater Class.
The final day of the SSSA Nationals arrived and the weather was looking great, tasks for the day were set to the south of Potch. The 2 Seater class will again be flying the same task as the Club Class, and B & C tasks had been set, but everyone hopped that the “A” task would be flown, as the current leaders’ points were very close in both the Club & 15m Classes and anything could happen which would change the leader board.
Gridding commenced and everyone was expecting the first launch at 11:30 this however didn’t pan out and the launch was first delayed to 12:00 and due to the late launch, the Club Class had to fly the “B” task which was significantly shorter. The gate finally opened for the Club Class at 12.26 and the 318,9 km task was a “GO”. Shortly after them, at 13.05 the 2 Seaters were underway for their 363,61 km Task, and the 15m Class just moments later at 13.15, they were flying a 400.52 km Task.
As expected, it was an excellent final day with very good conditions. Attie Jonker took top honours with a speed of 162,19 km/h and his brother Uys taking second place with 161,97 km/h. In the Club class Jason Adriaan won the day at 115,02 kph but would that be enough to change the leader board. Natalie Luebben once again took top honours all but cementing her position as national champion with a speed of 142,6km/h.
After the flying was done and dusted it was time to relax with a few cold ones and enjoy the sheep on the spit that had made everyone hungry the whole day as it was braaiing and of course wait for the final results.
Overall in the 15m. class 1st Attie Jonker 5161 pts, 2nd Oscar Goudriaan 5144 pts, and 3rd Laurens Goudriaan 5026 pts.
In the Club class Wilhelm Mosehuus 4685 pts, 2nd Phillip Jonker 4647 pts, and 3rd Jason Adriaan 4438 pts.
In the 2 Seater Class Natalie Luebben took 1st place with 5238 pts 2nd place belonged to Arjan Schaap and Riaan Denner with 4020 pts.
The Klaas Goudriaan Memorial Trophy awarded to the winner of the 2 Seater Class. 2018 winner Arjan Schaap and 2019 winner Natalie Luebben. The trophy was presented by Elly Goudriaan, widow of the late Klaas Goudriaan. Klaas was passionate about gliding, especially the development of gliding among disadvantaged people. The trophy represents a young boy whose passion for aviation and specifically gliding is obvious.
Competitions like this would not be possible without a multitude of people that give of their time and energy to make it all happen.
Special thanks to the untiring tug pilots - Rowan, Uys, John, Phillipe, Riaan and Laurens. Sven for his excellent work supplying the competitors with very accurate weather information throughout the competition, The task setters, Safety officer and Operations coordinators. Jannie and his wonderful mother for the excellent catering throughout the eight days for all the competitors and organisers, the remote scorer Maneste who is based in Pretoria and of course holding it altogether, Oscar Goudriaan as the contest director.
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