World Sailplane Grand Prix Racing Series
A fast demanding and highly competitive race between beautiful and highly developed sailplanes using only the sun's energy as their power source.
Grand Prix racing in sailplanes is the most competitive, exciting and exhilarating form of sailplane racing, it requires great concentration and skill to seek out and make the best use of the available energy in the air and at the same time employ tactics to gain an edge over the other competitors.
What is the race format?
Each race takes place around a closed course of about 200-300 km and usually takes about 2 hours depending on the weather conditions in the race area with up to 20 gliders competing simultaneously.
A contest will normally be over five or six days allowing the pilots the opportunity to compete in different conditions. Each race starts with the opening of a 5km long start line by the race director. The start provides an exciting spectacle with all the competitors streaming through the start together. Once across the start line the pilots choose their own route seeking out the best energy to each of the mandatory points they must pass. The successful passage of these points is verified by information from flight recorders carried in each glider. Having passed each point they must cross the finish line to record their speed.
How do you win the race?
The race winner is the pilot who has selected the best route and made most efficient use of the available energy in the sky and having completed the course is the first across the finish line. This requires excellent piloting skills to identify and use the thermal currents that will give them altitude that is then converted into speed. The energy availability is constantly changing, requiring the pilot to continually evaluate his tactics both in relation to the energy conditions and his position relative to the other competitors.
Winning the race requires a pilot to formulate a strategy that suits his/her competitive style. Some like to race ahead whilst others may wish to fly more conservatively and wait for the leaders to make a mistake. There will be many critical decision points giving each pilot the opportunity to gain an advantage when he makes the right decision and fall behind if he makes an incorrect assessment of the conditions.
Each race is a test of the pilot’s patience and tactical ability. These qualities combined with his piloting skills and ability to choose the optimum route will determine his performance. The pilot who successfully implements his chosen strategy and uses the most appropriate tactics to achieve the fastest speed will be the winner.
How do you win the contest?
On each of the race days the top nine pilots are awarded points according to their position, the pilot amassing the most points by the end of the contest is the winner.
How do you win the series.
Each Sailplane Grand Prix has between six and ten qualifying events culminating in a World final to find the World Sailplane Grand Prix champion. The World final competitors are the winners and runners up from all the qualifying events.
The first experimental Sailplane Grand Prix events were held in January 2001 in Gawler, Australia and in June 2003 in Saint-Auban, France.
The first official FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix was held from the 2nd to the 11th of September, 2005, in Saint-Auban, France.
The second FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix was held in December 2007 in Omarama, New Zealand.
The third FAI World Sailplane Grand Prix was held in January 2010 in Santiago, Chile.
The fourth FAI Sailplane Grand Prix was held in August 2011 at the Wasserkuppe, Germany.