Thursday, December 15, 2016

Preview of the Australian FAI Sailplane Grand Prix

The Australian FAI/SGP contest starts on December 14th 2016 only a few weeks before the 34th World Gliding Championships to take place at Benalla also in the state of Victoria. This presents an ideal opportunity for top Australian and overseas pilots to experience top level competition in Australian conditions and put in some serious practice...

The FAI/SGP will take place at Horsham in an ideal task area renowned for strong thermal conditions during this period of the summer. Pilots can expect some booming conditions in temperatures that regularly exceed 35 degrees Celsius, heights over 12,000ft are not uncommon and oxygen systems are strongly recommended.

In an area with very few airspace restrictions allowing races in almost any direction from the airfield over open large scale farmland. The Grampian mountains lie to the south, a range of low mountains rising to about 3000ft which will make for interesting racing when weather permits races into this region.

The very competitive Australian sailplane community is very well represented with 10 of the fourteen competing pilots but the USA and New Zealand pilots will ensure there will be no easy victory. 
There are no obvious favourites to win this SGP and predicting the final podium occupiers is not easy.

There are no obvious favourites to win this SGP and predicting the final podium occupiers is not easy.

The top Australian pilot Peter Temple flying an ASG 29 and World Ranking 103 looks like  a serious contender having won both the Australian 20m class and the Multiclass nationals in 2016 and 2nd in both these events in 2015. 

Andrew Georgeson (AUS) world ranking 103 flying a JS1 is very experienced competitor in this class but was 2nd to Peter in the 2016 multiclass and will probably be looking to reverse this position in the SGP

Possible the most experienced Australian pilot is David Jansen flying an ASG 29. Despite his lower world ranking at 154 he has flown a World SGP final in Germany and several World Championships. In the hot and very tactical environment of SGP racing his broader experience may well give him an edge on his fellow countrymen.

The local Australian pilots may find themselves pushed hard by the visiting pilots from USA and New Zealand.  Hot from the USA SGP in Michigan Sean Fidler will bring his recent experience to the races and is quite capable of beating his way to the final podium. Sean is flying an ASG 29 and his lower world ranking is mostly due to his lack of International experience.

There are several pilots with little recent track record who may surprise the top ranked pilots. Rank outsider Mark Tingey (NZ) flying a JS1 who has no world Ranking has only been flying contests for 2 years in a PW5 but is keen and talented. Whatever his result the racing in Horsham will certainly sharpen him up for the EGC in Benalla.

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