Sunday, 7 March 2021

Contest report - 2021 Central Districts Gliding Championships

The timing was ideal for the 2021 event with both ends bookmarked with increased COVID19 level restrictions and less favourable soaring weather.


Held from Waipukurau Airfield and hosted again this year by Gliding Hawkes Bay & Waipukurau, the event was run as a friendly, low key regional championships and used as a training ground for new competition pilots. With the final entry list totaling 47 gliders over the three classes, there was a wide range of gliders and a good mixture of regulars and new faces for the competition period of Sunday 21st to Saturday 27th February inclusive. Despite the COVID and associated challenges, 45 gliders flew in the contest. Chief tow pilot was Neil Faulknor who was supported by five other towplanes to give a total of six available to launch the largest field for many, many years.


John Etches again kindly volunteered to act as Contest Director and scorer and managed his role with aplomb although he did insinuate it was like herding cats at times. Graham White was weather man and task setter and the weather gave him challenging conditions to set tasks in.


The club secured sponsorship for daily prizes from Vineonline of wine along with food donations for the meals put on from Bidfood and McCain Foods plus fresh apples from an orchard.


Challenging soaring conditions were a feature of the contest with the first few days 100% blue and hot. However, tasks were set and completed in those conditions on the Saturday practice day and first contest day on Sunday.


It turned out that every day throughout the contest was soarable although three of the seven days were not taskable.


With the task setter aiming to get at least about 80% of the pilots around each day’s task, some landouts were inevitable. However, with plenty of safe landout options available in the task areas, this was not a problem. Some retrieves proved to be more challenging than others. Four pilots landed in one paddock and three of the retrieve crews were left behind in locating the paddock which made it a long day. One trailer drawbar snapped off due to rust on a one way riverbank track which needed a slow and long retrieve by tow truck just to recover the trailer. Luckily a suitable trailer was available to retrieve the glider while the trailer was being recovered.


On airfield meals were provided on the Sunday with a steak BBQ, Wednesday a steak BBQ or roast chicken, along with a Friday evening meal mains of ham or steak. With Brian Kelly managing the catering, all that attended were well fed with a good variety of options and great value. With many pilots and supporters camping on the airfield, this made the dinners something to look forward to and great social occasions with the opportunity to swap stories from the days flying.


Ian Sheppard from Gliding Manawatu, along with numerous volunteers, ran the grid efficiently which was much appreciated. Thanks must go to all who helped make the event a success.

Next year’s competition (2022) is scheduled to be held in the Wairarapa with the following year (2023) back at Waipukurau. Tony van Dyk noted that 2022 contest will be the 60th edition of this event. All pilots are most welcome to join us for fun and friendly contests.

 At the final prize giving after flying was completed on the Saturday, the top pilots were announced as:

 Open class:

1st - Tim Bromhead, Ventus cT 17.6m, 3,843 points

2nd - Pat Driessen, JS1, 3,759 points

3rd - Tony van Dyk, LS8, 3,545 points


Racing class:

1st - John Robertson, Discus 2b, 2,201 points 

2nd - Alain Marcuse, LS4, 2,175 points

3rd - David Moody, SZD 55-1, 2,111 points


Sports class: 

1st - John Carter, ASW15, 680 points 

2nd –Dennis Green, PW5, 609 points 

3rd – John Chittenden, ASW 28, 296 points


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