Matthew Atkinson in his Ventus 2cx at Gawler.
By Sean Young
Photos by Alan Dean and Sean Young
The Sailplane Grand Prix is a series of qualifying races held in countries around the world over the course of a year. The top one or two competitors from each qualifying event are eligible to compete in a grand final SGP. This is a global event with competitors from many countries, making the winner of the SGP final a world champion.
As the name indicates, the race format is a Grand Prix. All competitors cross the start line as a group, just like a motor or sailboat race. The first glider to cross the finish line is the winner. All the gliders are 18M, there are no handicaps and all gliders have the same wing loading of 48kg/m2.
Th initial goal of the competition was to make glider racing more accessible to the wider public. SGP pioneered live tracking of races combined with live video coverage and commentary. It has proved very successful over the years and is very popular with the competitors and the worldwide gliding community.
SGP Gawler winner Pete Temple.
SGP Series 11
SGP Series 11 began in Sweden in May 2022, quickly followed by contests in Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Germany, Bosnia and Herzogovina and France.
SGP Australia was held at Gawler in January this year, and was the 8th qualifying competition. The final qualifying event in the series was held at Worcester in South Africa in January. The SGP Finals will be held at Pavullo in Italy this coming September.
Pete Temple flying a task.
The maximum number of competitors allowed in each event is 20. In the post COVID envrionment, the number of competitors was down for all the qualifying events. Gawler was no exception with just five pilots competing for a place in the finals. But they were all top competition pilots and I looked forward to an exciting week of racing as I travelled to Gawler to help out with video and commentary for the event.
Gawler Race Days
I hadn’t visited the Adelaide Soaring Club at Gawler before, and found it to be a very friendly club with great facilities located just outside Adelaide. The weather in January can produce very strong soaring conditions with the possibility of 1,000km flghts along the trough line. The region had seen higher than average rainfall this year, though not the extreme wet conditions that the eastern states had experienced. However, the Murray River, which flows from Wakerie 100km north of Gawler to the ocean to the east, was in full flood. It was an impressive sight to see.
SGP Gawler winner Pete Temple.
The weather for the week looked good with a trough moving back and forth across the area in a typical January pattern. In the end, there were some low, blue but not too windy days, but also some strong thermal days with good cloud bases. The first race day was cancelled, as a trough crossed the area, but the next six days saw good racing conditions.
Geoff Brown won the first race, completing the 235km course at 105 kph in his JS1. The second race was won by Pete Temple in his ASG29. Pete then went on to win the next four races, putting him in an unassailable position. Mac Ichikawa came 2nd on four days, securing his 2nd place overall. Geoff Brown took 3rd place overall with 17 points.
The fifth race had the longest task of 380.8km, which Pete Temple completed at the astonishing speed of 152.5 kph.
Matthew Atkinson preparing his Ventus 2cx.
Magnificent Final Day
After six races, Gawler brought magnificent soaring conditions on the final day. A trough crossed the task area bringing 12,000ft and higher cloudbases and climbs of over 10kt throughout the task area.
Geoff Brown won Race 1 in his JS1.
The 313.9 km task was won in style by Pete Temple with a task speed of 149.9 kph. Pete won five races in a row securing the top place in the Sailplane Grand Prix with a total of 30 points.
Everyone enjoyed a great atmosphere at Gawler, with lots of club activity especially at the weekends. An RAAus flying school also operates at the airport, and lots interesting aircraft can be seen. The contest was expertly organised and run by Contest Director Mandy Temple. She was aided by Referees Rob Moore and Michael Scutter and an enthusiastic team of volunteers from the Adelaide Soaring Club.
Gliding Australia President Steve Pegler was the Tugmaster for the competition.
The SGP Finals are sure to be exciting viewing for Australian Pilots. Live video, tracking and commentary will be broadcast at
The small but friendly lineup of competitors and the team at SGP Gawler.
You can watch video commentary and more from SGP Gawler at
The flight line at Gawler.
Sailplane Grand Prix Gawler
2 - 8 january 2023
1 Pete Temple ASG-29 18m 30
2 Mak Ichikawa Ventus 3T 19
3 Geoff Brown JS-1 TJ Revelation 18m 17
4 David Pietsch JS-1 TJ Revelation 18m 11
5 Matthew Atkinson Ventus 2cxa 18m 6
Full results at australia23.sgp.aero/results