Magalies Gliding Club based at Orient Airfield played host to the Gauteng Regional Gliding Championships from 19 to 26 September. The week got off to a great start for the record 34 entrants but sadly the weather had the last say in the competition. Saturday the 19th, a practice day, had as close to perfect soaring weather as could be found, the rest of the week basically went from bad to worse to the extent that only two days tasks could be completed.
The regional championships were divided into three categories each strictly regulated by the governing body of international gliding the International Gliding Commission (IGC) a subsidiary of Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) for the competition to be internationally recognised, these rules differ for each class.
15-meter class, where the wingspan of the glider may not exceed 15 meters with lift-enhancing devices allowed maximum all-up mass 525 kg. Club Class, allows a wide range of older small gliders within a specified range of performances, with the scores being adjusted by handicapping, disposable ballast may be installed but must not be used in this class.
Open Class, No limitations are set for this class, lift-enhancing devices, as well as disposable ballast, is allowed to a maximum all-up mass of 800kg. Two-seater gliders can also compete in the open class providing they remain below the 800kg limit.
On Saturday 19 September the competitors had a chance to stretch their legs on a practice task, all three classes tasks were set to the west of Orient. The Club classes task was a 192.13 km with two turning points that the competitors must round within a cylinder of half a kilometre. The finish point was Orient airfield where the passing cylinder is increased to three kilometres.
The 15-meter class task was 308.77 km also with the same turning criteria as the Club Class, the Open Class were tasked with a gruelling 427.61km task which would put them in the air for over 3 hours.
15-Meter Practice Task Open Class Practice task
After a very successful practice run the teams were excited about the rest of the competition but sadly on the first day of competition, a cold front moved in over the Cape which ruined the expected good conditions and day ones task was cancelled.
Day two of the competition showed a slight improvement in conditions and tasks were set once again to the west of the field away from the Johannesburg TMA. The Club Class task was 185,92km the 15 meter Class 257.13 km sadly neither class delivered a valid result as conditions proved too demanding.
The Open Class result was a bit of an upset with relative newcomers to the open class Riaan Denner and Jason Adriaan performing exceptionally well over the 356.35km task, clocking speeds of 106,94km/h and 105,91 km/h respectively.
The conditions once again deteriorated and the tasks set out for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had to be cancelled leaving only Thursday, Friday and Saturday to get a valid result. The weather didn’t look very promising for the remainder of the week though.
Thursday morning showed a slight improvement in soaring conditions and the task went ahead as planned. The Club Class were set a task of 165km, 15-meter class contested a task of 328,41Km and the open class at 438,37km. Once again the conditions had the final say with most of the competitors returning without completing the task out landings were also becoming commonplace as pilots just ran out of energy.
Friday arrived and once again the weather was looking iffy at best, after a long wait until 2:30 in the afternoon, Club Class was cancelled and the other two Classes tasks shortened, flying got under-way only for the majority of pilots to return shortly after take-off as no lift could be found.
The final day of the competition tasks was cancelled with the lack of valid results the Club Class and 15 Meter Class could not be validated and had to be scrapped. The Open Class did however manage to record sufficient results to be declared valid. Nico le Roux walked away with the first position and the title of regional champion with 1194 points in second place was John Coutts with 1163 points and Laurence Hardman managed third place with 1151 points.
Sadly the regionals didn’t go according to plan, but that is what gliding is all about, constantly being at the mercy of the elements. The next major gliding event on the calendar is the 2020 South African Glider Nationals to be held at Kimberley from 12 to 22 December 2020. We sincerely hope the weather is better for this competition.
The sad result to this competition was by no means through lack of organisation by the Magalies Gliding Club, they hosted this competition with exemption, but the weather once again had the final say.