Adam Woolley flying his Ventus 3 with 15M tips at Narromine and on the flight line. Adam is the new Australian 15M champion.
By Sean Young with Bruce Taylor, Matthew Scutter, Adam Woolley, Allan Barnes
Ausglide- the Australian National Championships 2022, held 2 – 16 March 2023 in Narromine, was especially significant this year. Due to the disruption caused by COVID and the extreme wet weather, the National Competitions Committee (NCC) chose to make this competition the sole decider to select the members of the Australian team for the World Gliding Championships Narromine.
So, the top two pilots in each class at this contest would not only be Australian Champions, but go on to have the chance of winning a world title. The WGC, to be held in 15M, Standard and Club Classes in December 2023, has still further importance for Australian pilots – they will be competing, not in Europe or somewhere far from home, but at Narromine with all the home turf advantages that brings.
Tobi Geiger in his Ventus 2. Tobi took 2nd place overall, beating the Diana 2 and three JS3s to secure his place on the Australian team for WGC Narromine.
Apart from knowledge of the flying conditions and area there are the logistical advantages of being able to fly their own gliders without major shipping costs and the support of Australian based crew. These advantages will apply even to pilots coming from WA.
As most WGCs are held overseas, only a few Australian pilots can consider competing in them, even if they are eligible for the team. At this contest, many of the pilots were eager to make it onto the team and represent their country on the world stage.
For some of the pilots, it may have been their last chance to fly in a world championships. For others, it was their first or best chance. Numerous motivating factors were at play as pilots around the country considered entering AusGlide.
Matthew Scutter flying his Diana 2 and on the flight line at Narromine. Matthew won the Junior WGC at Narromine in 2015 in Standard Class. In this all-or-nothing qualifying compeition, he took 3rd place behind Tobi Geiger, missing a place on the Australian team.
The decision to change the date from December 2022 to March 2023 proved to be wise. In December large swathes of eastern Australia were underwater. Paddocks around all the major gliding centres including Narromine were flooded and muddy. The water has taken months to find its way into the river systems and percolate underground. Apart from the wet weather and soaked landsacape, damaged roads made travel hazardous. Few pilots were able to make forward plans in such uncertain circumstances.
By February however, the weather had returned to a more normal cycle of high pressure systems and associated troughs moving across the continent. The water had drained towards the rivers. Crops had been taken off the paddocks and more normal gliding operations resumed.
James Nugent flew his LS3 to victory in Club Class. As the new Australian Club Class champion he now has a chance at a world podium place at WCG Narromine in December.
After many competitions that were not as well attended as in previous years, AusGlide attracted many of Australia’s top international pilots including World Gliding Champion Brad Edwards who won 15M Class in 1991 at Uvalde USA. This was his chance to once again fly for Australia in 15M. Upcoming stars Matthew Scutter and Adam Woolley were there as well, accompanied by talented junior pilots James Nugent, Tom Jamieson, David Collins and Ryan Driscoll.
Matthew won the JWGC at Narromine in Standard Class in 2015 and James came 5th in Club Class. Other previous WGC contestants included Bruce Taylor, Terry Cubley, Tobi Geiger, Mac Ichkawa who took 2nd place in 15M Class for Japan at WGC Benalla 2017, Allan Barnes and others.
By the opening day of the competition, 40 pilots had entered in total – ten in Standard, ten in 15M and 20 in Club Class.
Daniel Summers from Gliding Club of Victoria, flying his LS3a, took 2nd place in Club Class and will join James on the Australian team.
There were a potential nine racing days. It was a long and difficult contest featuring weak, blue and marginal soaring conditions mixed with some strong days with CUs up to 13,000 ft near the trough.
Rise of the Juniors
It has been wonderful to see a number of younger pilots doing so well in this competition, including James Nugent, Tom Jamieson, David Collins and Ryan Driscoll.
James flew his first competition in 2013 flying in the Australian Junior Nationals. Since then he has flown in six Junior Nationals, two Australian Nationals, JWGC Naromine plus JWGC Tabor in 2022. This was his final competition as a Junior (under 25 years old) -- and what a competition record he already has!
Ryan Driscoll, now 26 years old, also flew at JWGC Tabor as well as Vic State Championships, and Junior and Multiclass Nationals.
David Collins, age 23, flew at JWGC Szeged plus four Australian Juniors, F1GP and two Australian National Championships.
Ryan Driscoll also from GCV, flying an ASW20C, won 3rd place competing in his first Australian Nationals.
Let the Compettion Begin – 15 March
Three-hour AATs were set for all classes. It was a beautiful flying day with cloudbases of over 8,000ft and strong climbs up to 9kts were reported.
Conditions in the area around Narromine were a bit weak as the ground was wet from recent rains. But the track towards Nyngan in the northwest was over dryer ground and conditions were strong.
In this early stage of the competition, the main concern was to avoid landing out and putting yourself in a position that would be very difficult to recover from. Fortunately for the contestants, they nearly all did well. James Nugent won the day in Club Class, establishing himself at the head of his class. It would prove to be impossible to dislodge him as the competition progressed. Allan Barnes won Standard and Matthew Scutter 15M Class.
Jo Davis flying her ASW20a was in 2nd place until the last race. She was overtaken by Daniel and Ryan and finished in 4th place.
One Day at a Time
The next day proved much trickier. Bruce Taylor landed out and David Jansen missed the startline. Both ended at the bottom of the Standard Class table for the day. Tony Condon from the USA in Club Class also landed out. These three pilots now had mountains to climb to get back in contention for a podium position.
On the third day, Bruce bounced back and won the day, with David Jansen in 3rd place beaten by Scott Lennon. Matthew in 15M had a difficult day with technical and health issues. He finished in 7th place with Norm Bloch in 1st and Tobi Geiger in 2nd. In Club Class, Neil Bennett from Hunter Valley GC won the day followed by James Nugent and Daniel Summers.
The pilots with day wins don’t often win the competitions. Instead, the ones who consistently stay near the top of the field day by day, and don’t make big mistakes, are the ones to watch. By Race 4, some of the eventual leaders were already emerging.
In 15M Adam Woolley won the day getting 1,000 points, propelling him into 1st place overall. Matthew came in 2nd place, moving him up the scoreboard one position. Tobi came in 3rd, moving down one place. In Standard Class, Jack Tonkin from the UK won the day followed by Scott Lennon and Bruce Taylor. James Nugent came in 1st in Club Class flowed by Tom Jamieson with Daniel Summers in 4th place.
Bruce Taylor flying an LS8 is the new Australian Standard Class champion. Bruce is once again on the team to fly for Australia in December. Below is the view from Bruce's cockpit.
Day 6, halfway through the competition, Jo Davis was way down the field, who had finished in the top five for the first two days, then had two not so good days,. But she came into her own this day and came in 1st followed by James and Tom in Club Class.
Adam took 1st place again in 15M but gained only 774 points. Matthew cam 3rd but moved up a further two positions, but in 3rd position was still out of contention for a place on the Australian team. Bruce, Mike Durrant and Jack took the top three positions in Standard Calss.
The view from Bruce Taylor's cockpit.
20 March – 13,000ft day
This was another fast day with Matthew winning 15M flying 417km at 145kph. He was followed by Adam and Ray Stewart. Tobi was knocked back to 6th place. However, after the results came in, the leaders table in 15M had not changed. Adam Woolley was still the leader. Although Matthew won the day and gained 945 points, Adam came in 2nd and gained 909 points, enough to keep him comfortably in the lead. Tobi, despite finishing 6th, retained his 2nd place overall. Now Matthew was 134 points behind Tobi.
In Standard Class Bruce Taylor won the day for the second time in a row and third for the contest. This squeezed him into 1st place overall ahead of Scott Lennon by 4 points who did not have a great day, coming in 8th. This was a great recovery for Bruce after landing out on day 2. Jack Tonkin was now in 4th place overall, but 250 points behind Bruce.
Greg Beecroft from Beverley SS in WA flew his LS8 into 2nd place and earned a place on the Australian team.
In Club Class Jo Davis had her second day win, beating James Nugent who came 2nd and Daniel Summers who came in 3rd, moving up two places to be in 4th place behind Ryan Driscoll in 3rd place overall. James Nugent was still in a comfortable lead at 421 points ahead of Jo who had now moved up one place into 2nd overall. She was now in WGC qualifying position, 159 points ahead of Ryan.
With a potential three more contest days to go there were no guarantees, but the top positions in Club and 15M were looking more secure. The leaders just had to not land out, and finish in the top third to hold their positions.
Bruce Taylor was now tentatively in the lead in Standard Class, but with just 76 points between him and Greg Beecoft in 3rd place, he needed to keep in the top two positions for the remaining days. The same was true for Scott and Greg.
Scott Lennon from Temora GC, also in an LS8, took 3rd place in Standard Class.
A Change in the Weather
But then the weather changed. The next day on 21 Mar was taken as a rest day. On Wednesday, only three possible race days remained. The weather forecast looked difficult, causing a lot of pessimism about whether a task could be flown or not. However, two-hour AATs for all classes were set with large circles that would hopefully give the pilots enough options to avoid the forecast rain.
The conditions turned out better than forecast. There were rain showers but all of the fleet managed to get around the course and home.
World Gliding Champion 15M Class 1991, Brad Edwards, flying his JS3 in 15M configuration. Brad came in 5th place overall.
In 15M Matthew Scutter needed to gain 100 points on Tobi Geiger. Adam Woolley needed to finish in the top one-third. Tobi Geiger needed to be in the top three positions if he was to hold off Matthew.
Adam and Matthew came home together with very respectable speeds of roughly 125 kph and about 260km. Norm Bloch had a good day and came in 3rd place in his JS3 flying 281km at 132 kph
Mac Ichikawa won the day flying 290 km at 131 kph. Tobi Geiger finished 2nd flying 287 km at 135kph beating both Adam and Matthew. Tobi increased his lead on Matthew to 159 points.
In Standard Class Greg Beecroft took 1st place followed by Bruce Taylor in 2nd place, cementing his 1st place overall. David Jansen took 3rd place but Scott Lennon came in 7th. This cost him his 2nd place position overall as he was overtaken by Greg Beecroft, who was now 96 points ahead of him.
Jack Tonkin visiting from the UK took 5th place in an LS8 in Standard Class.
In Club Class, Tony Condon from the Kansas won the day flying a Cirrus. James Nugent took 2nd place but maintained his overall lead. Bernie Sizer had his best result of the competition so far, finishing in 3rd place. Jo Davis perhaps flew a conservative race coming in 15th for the day, but nevertheless maintaining her 2nd place overall. Daniel Summers moved up one position into 3rd place overall. Jo was now 74 points ahead of Daniel and James was a comfortable 470 points ahead of Jo.
The results showed that on a tricky day with showers in the task area, mixed results can reward some pilots and frustrate others.
Some of the Australian Team hopefuls may well have been content for the competition to have ended then. There were two days still left to fly, but the following day proved to be a no fly day.
Bernie Sizer from Tocumwal SC with his PIK20B on the flight line.
Last day of the competition and it was down to the wire for team selection and the competition winners.
Club Class had shaped up for a big fight for 2nd place overall between Jo Davis and Daniel Summers. With only 74 points separating them. James Nugent was comfortably in 1st place with a 530 point lead.
Standard Class could still have seen any one of the top three to take home the top position. Despite landing out earlier in the competition Bruce Taylor has managed the difficult task of working his way back to the top, but was only 53 points ahead of West Australian Greg Beecroft, and Greg was just 96 points ahead of Scott Lennon.
Adam was in the lead in 15M but only by 35 points ahead of Tobi Geiger and Matthew was 159 points behind Tobi.
Kerrie Claffey explaining the gridding procedure at briefing. Photo Lumpy Patterson
Matthew roared home to win the day in 15M ahead of Norm Bloch and Adam. But due to four gliders landing out, the day was devalued and he only received 622 points. So Tobi, who finished 4th on the day, retained his 2nd place overall, beating Matthew into 3rd place by just 7 points. Adam Woolley finished in 1st place position overall and is the new 15M Australian Gliding Champion.
In Standard Class, Greg Beecroft won the day, putting him in 2nd place beating Scott Lennon who finished the competition in 3rd place. Bruce Taylor came home in 2nd place, winning the championship in Standard Class.
Norm Bloch from Beverly SS landing his JS3. Norm came 4th in 15M Class.
Ryan Driscoll won the final Club Class Race, followed by Daniel Summers and Michael Strathern.
James Nugent came in 9th place, one position ahead of Jo Davis. When the final scores were counted, Jo had dropped into 4th place overall with Ryan in 3rd, Daniel 2nd and James Nugent the Club Class Champion.
There were two safety related penalties given in Standard Class and at the time of writing a protest procedure is underway. Otherwise the friendly and competitive competition went smoothly.
The top two pilots in each class are eligible to fly at WGC Narromine in December.
David Collins from Waikerie flew his interesting Centrair-built ASW20F in Club Class.
Getting Ready for the World
What an exciting competition it was! Event organisation by the Narromine team, including Beryl and Arnie Hartley, was excellent as always. The Competition Director Mick Webster did a great job of keeping the championships on track and, as a pre-Worlds Championships, it was certainly the perfect preparation. Mick said, "In general the comp went well. For March, the weather was good with only a couple of days lost to weather. Tasking was also pretty good with only a few land outs. We tried out two different way to grid and hopefully these lessons will carry forwards to the Worlds."
Looking ahead to the WGC, to be held from 2 to 16 December 2023, Narromine is in great shape. Narromine Airfield has already undergone some improvements for the WGC. The glider north south runway has been widened, and a new launchpoint access road and new runway access road from the tie down have been put in.
Miles Gore-Brown flew in Standard Class.
From the Competitors
After the previous day I was being very patient, promised I wouldn’t get low, and would try to fly around in safety with a group. I started just behind about five other standard class gliders, perfectly positioned and at reasonable height after some very slow climbs. We dribbled off. I decided to go somewhere else, but never saw the gaggle again and promptly flew down to 1,100ft above the ground! There was some discontent in my cockpit, but I survived in a very weak climb and shortly afterwards accidentally ran into a cracking 6-7kt climb. I was up and running again, and I gradually learned how the thermals were structured. Many lift areas I found had about 6kts hidden somewhere, but it often took a couple of searching turns. The rest of the flight I did indeed stay high and motored along steadily, even taking a solid 3kts to final glide and home. It felt like a pretty good day for me. This gliding is a fascinating game… often with a scant whisker between disaster and a hugely successful day.
It was a very tricky day, with blue climbs to 7,000ft and a thermal wave above. I've never climbed into a wave on task before, but today the wave was actually stronger than the thermals below! I was never really in control of my situation, getting repeatedly dumped by the wave but generally managing to play the cards I was dealt fairly well. I came 3rd for the day and still leading overall. I'm just glad to have gotten around cleanly.
Wow, this flight required some mental strength! My late start was not by choice and not for lack of trying. It felt like everyone was in a different sky. All I could find was 2kts to 5,000ft, while everyone else seemed to be climbing at 5kts to 7-8,000ft - once on task, I found out that they were! I was at 3,500ft with 3min left on my PEV at 14:32. I stopped and thought, as clearly as I could, should press the PEV again or not? I decided that I could find more than 2kts at the end of the day, so decided to push it one last time. It meant the earliest start of 14:42 was possible.
Fortunately, I found my first 5kt climb at the line, took it to 7,000ft and judged my time for start. I crossed about 15 sec in my window and 6,300ft. I reset my brain and said, others started 15 min or so earlier than you, just put your best flight in and focus, relax, focus, relax, push, push, push. I ultimately had a good flight and achieved my damage control result. I had one low spot with 4kt climb out, but otherwise flew at 105kts all day, taking 5-6kt climbs to 6,000ft. I could see the gaggle 20-30km ahead, always 2,000ft higher. They were working together, it seemed, and were staying much higher than me. However, I felt confident that I could core from lower in stronger climbs and without any distractions when it came to thermal entry. Another thought process in my late start was, it's a blue day. Blue days usually go longer than forecast. Phew, got away with it!
Ray Stewart Kingaroy SC JS3
Eventually after the thermal sniffer fell down, we went to the B task, a 3hr AAT. I trarted at 2:41, much later than most, but with Mike Durrant. We kept each other company for the full first leg, which was below 5,000ft until almost Gilgandra when we got a nice climb to 7,700ft and then 8,400ft near Tooraweenah. I decided to turn at that point and head NW. Mike kept going towards the Warrumbungles. Met up with Miles, then had a good 3rd leg. Being a late starter I had to go longer, so I pushed deep into the 3rd turnpoint and scored a lowish save from a dust devil out of a brown paddock. That was pretty much final glide with some spare height. Better day than yesterday!
Mike Durrant from Bendigo GC in his LS8 was a podium contender until he landed out on race 6.
This was one of the weirdest competition flights I've ever experienced. It was going to be blue, higher temperatures than the day before so higher and stronger, and as it was slightly slow heating up we reverted to the B task which was a 3 hour AAT. The track was to be up to Tooraweenah on the edge of the Warrumbungles, West to Combara, South to Nevertire and home, a different direction to all the previous tasks.
After launch I climbed solidly to about 5,000ft, moved towards the start zone and had two very strong climbs to top out at just over 7,000ft. With 10 minutes to start gate opening, and wanting to leave pretty much straight away, I was pretty happy with how things were setting up... then nothing. I could not for the life of me find another climb. At gate opening I was back at about 4,000ft, and descended all the way to 1,700ft above sea level... that is 1,000ft above the ground!
I was so happy with my perseverance, all the while in the back of my mind I could hear Brad saying, "Never, ever, ever give up!" It was such a tough flight.
Mathew Scutter in his Diana 2 FES.
It was a psychotically cruel day. It was a long task with a short window and wave around the start. Only Tobi and Woolley got into the wave and started FIVE THOUSAND feet higher than the rest of us, effortlessly gliding over the tricky first leg, then getting home before the day started to pack in.
I made a conscious effort to put that aside and go into damage control mode - fast, clean flight. Either I was unable to reset or I was just unlucky as I failed to make a clean transition to the strong conditions and had to climb out from 1,000ft. Fortunately, I was not badly punished for this and would have what would otherwise be a respectable speed if not compared to the wave starters. Either my competence has to improve or my luck has to improve - and fast, too. Tobi and Woolley certainly have my attention now. The weather starts changing tomorrow, which might require some different skills, so there's some hope.
Jack Hart from Bendigo GC with his new pride and joy, an ASW20b that he flew in Club Class.
A classic Australian blue day, one that went my way with a staggering 142kph over 345km. We experienced climbs up to 13,000ft with occasional 10kt climbs.
Today I had a similar focus to yesterday, climb safely straight off tow, then head to the line, start by 14:45 as high I has I could, then go like the wind! Fortunately this is what happened and I was lucky to core a climb from a hotspot which took me to 9,500ft for the start, when my mates were forced to start from around 5-7,000ft.
I had a great run to the first TP with Tobi. We were working beautifully together, pushing each other along. Shortly after the first TP I decided to push ahead while Tobi stopped in 4-5kts, I was rewarded with 7kts to 11,500ft and got the break away.
I decided to track away (AWAY!) from the CU and favoured the SkySight predicted convergence to the 2nd turnpoint. I was rewarded with a reasonable run.
Tobi and I met at the 2nd turnpoint, though this time Tobi pressed on and I stayed in the 5-6kt climb to get some safety height. After leaving this climb I managed another 5kt climb to 11,000ft and set off on a 125km final glide.
SkySight again showed a convergence line. I pulled onto a 5kt climb, turned the MacCready op to 5kts and sat on 110kts most of the way home. Fantastic day, a day win.
Very interesting day today, with a forecast for very high-based cumulus out to the west of us in the task area, and the usual weaker, slower starting conditions here to begin the flight. We were flying a 2.5hour AAT, and I set up a bit of a plan in my mind about how to manage the flight. I also thought at this stage, when I am chasing from behind with not many days left, that I could afford to take some small risks.
Today I was almost last to launch, so plenty of markers around and it was a bit easier to get up. However, someone lit up a stubble fire not far from the airfield and I missed the first bubble, along with Mike Durrant who was leading the competition. Our late climb stopped short of maximum height and I decided to leave, when I ran into another climb right on the start line. Mike and I took it up to the same height as the other gliders left, and away we went.
Steve Jinks, also from Bendigo GC, looking forward to flying his Mosquito. Photo Lumpy Patterson
I took a short climb on the way to the first clouds just to ensure that I made it there, but unknown to me, Mike had outlanded. I pushed on under the first big clouds and was rewarded with a huge climb to 12,000ft. From then, I was mostly pretty high. Trying to figure out which clouds were working on such a high day is challenging, while wandering way off track chasing good lines of energy, and thinking far enough ahead to not get caught by something unexpected.
I turned for home about 120km away, not exactly sure how the glide home would go, but I ran into a solid 5.5 kts on the way to give me a good margin, then cruised back at a good speed, avoiding any drama with the sea-breeze which had ripped in a little earlier.
I feel a bit like I’ve done a Bradbury, as the three places in front of me all had tough days and I have jumped to the top of the list. Tomorrow is a rest day, and some of the remaining weather might be challenging. I’m very happy, but who knows what’s coming next?
Another fabulous day over the skies of Narromine. It was anticipated to be a strong day, but with showers coming at the end of the day, which is exactly what happened.
A 2-hour AAT was set and I started 12 min after the gate opened and came home along a edge of showers, so pretty good timing in all reality. Because of the 2hr task, I put my focus into not making any mistakes, as in, never to take a weak climb by getting low. Which is exactly what happened, I managed a 5kt average for the day and never had to grovel. Equally, at 95kts, I never pushed hard.
Tobi closed the gap to 35pts from 95pts today, but the goal of this comp isn't to win the competition, but to come 1st or 2nd and make the team.
Tony Condon from Kansas Soaring USA, ready to fly a Standard Cirrus kindly lent to him by Nick Gilbert. This was Tony's third gliding visit to Australia. He was a member of team USA at the Junior WGC Narromine 2015. Tony will be competing for the USA at WGC Narromine in December.
Australian Gliding Champions, Bruce Taylor Standard Class, Adam Woolley 15M Class, James Nugent Club Class.
Australian National Championships Narromine
Pre-World Gliding Championships
15 - 24 March 2023
1 Adam Woolley Kingaroy SC VENTUS 3 6,134
2 Tobi Geiger GCV VENTUS 2 6,081
3 Matthew Scutter Kingaroy SC DIANA 2 6,074
1 Bruce Taylor Lake Keepit SC LS8 5,737
2 Greg Beecroft Beverly SS LS8 5,707
3 Scott Lennon Temora GC LS8 5,462
1 James Nugent Sunraysia GC LS3 5,870
2 Daniel Summers GCV LS3a 5,446
3 Ryan Driscoll GCV ASW20C 5,430
Full results at soaringspot.com bit.ly/3z77qIQ