Monday, 5 March 2018

2018 Central Districts Gliding Championships report

This year’s event was organised by Gliding Hawkes Bay & Waipukurau and held from Waipukurau Airfield. This event is run as a friendly, low key regional championships and used as a training ground for new competition pilots.

The final entry list was 22 pilots over the Open, Racing and Sports classes. The Sports class was competed in with two PW5s and a K6CR with a wide range of gliders in the Open and Racing classes. There was a good mixture of regulars and new faces for the competition period of Sunday 18th to Saturday 24th February inclusive.

John Etches kindly volunteered to act as Contest Director and scorer. Graham White was again weather man and task setter. Chief tow pilot was Neil Faulknor who flew the Lexus powered Skylux towplane being trialled by the Gliding Hawkes Bay & Waipukurau club. He was supported by Hugh de Latour in TZB, Phil Gray in the Citabria CPD and various Gliding Manawatu pilots in the Pawnee CIG.

The club secured sponsorship from Centralines (the local power lines company) along with Marisco Family Winemakers, SBS Bank and Wrightsons for daily prizes. Publicity was gained with reports and an interview on the local radio station with the local newspaper publishing the results and a photo of the winning racing class pilot and glider.

While the initial forecast for the week was not great with the possibility of a cyclone ruining the event, pilots ended up flying on the Saturday practice day along with four contest days for a total of five days flying out of eight.

Flying had some of everything with good thermals, convergences and wave on various days. Unfortunately the wave on the Wednesday was difficult to get into and short lived which made soaring a challenge. The airspace limitation of 9,500ft in the main task area dropping to lower levels to the south west and north east added to the difficulties and pilots needed to be wary of the boundaries to avoid penalties.

Mike Lennard improved from landing out to completing his first task and then repeating a task completion on the final day. Allie Thompson completed her first solo task on the last day in a Libelle.

Landouts were few and far between so the plenty of safe landout areas, including some suitable for aerotow retrieves, were barely used. Mike O’Donnell landed out at the Kowhai airstrip and also a farm airstrip and was retrieved both times by aerotow.

The Open class was dominated by Patrick Driessen with Stewart Barton and Tony van Dyk in a close tussle for second and third places. Local pilot James Foreman won the racing class over fellow Hawkes Bay pilots Jason Price and Jason Kelly. In the Sport class, reigning champion Richard Keir took an early lead but was beaten by Richard Penman on the last two days to relinquish his title.

After a good thermal day on Friday, in his jet powered JS1 Revelation, Patrick Driessen gave a demonstration of its ability with low level passes with the jet going. It was an impressive and noisy sight.

On the social side, BBQs were organised on the airfield for the Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. With flying not finishing until early evenings, these were appreciated with a good variety of steaks, salads and desserts, including fresh Hawkes Bay strawberries, provided to hungry pilots under the organisation of Brian Kelly. Donated fresh Hawkes Bay apples were again popular and consumed almost as fast as delivered. 

Hugh de Latour entertained with his limericks which included:

What's that noise? From whence is it coming?
Is there something amiss in the plumbing?
No - settle down, boys,
We call that "White" noise -
It's Graham - he's started his humming!

Hugh thought the wave day looked fine
To put a Gold Badge on the line.
"Today is the day
I'll do three hundred K"
But he missed it by two-ninety-nine!

Michael Cooper wasn't so bold,
He just wanted Silver, not Gold.
He got Silver all right -
Not for distance or height,
But endurance, turning 50 years old!

The birthday cake for Michael’s 50th was cut, eaten and enjoyed after the Wednesday evening BBQ.

Full details of tasks and results can be found on Soaring Spot at

Thanks to all who helped make the event a success.

Next year’s competition is scheduled to be held from Greytown and all pilots are most welcome to join us for a fun, friendly contest.

Some photos from the event are on the previous blog post.