by Sarah Thompson
Since the demise of the Gliding Queensland Easter Regatta, Darling Downs Soaring Club has been hosting an Easter Regatta at McCaffrey Field, inviting all the Queensland Clubs and anyone else who is interested.
With 2020’s regatta cancelled due to Covid, and the 2021 regatta delivering on enthusiasm but not the weather with only one competition day, the excitement for this year was high. It was a nerve-wracking few weeks leading into the comp with two ‘once in a 100 years’ rain events the month. It looked as though just getting into the air would be a challenge, let alone running a comp that avoided the mud.
However, the weather gods co-operated in the end and we did get into the air, mostly avoiding the mud.
The goal of this regatta is to encourage post-solo and pre-GPC pilots to participate as an introduction to cross-country soaring and competition. Of course, experienced XC and competition pilots are also encouraged to participate. The club’s 2-seater gliders, a DG1001Club Neo and a Duo Discus, were reserved for coaching flights for low hours pilots to fly with an experienced XC Instructor or Coach.
To add to the fun and encouragement, we use a Pilot Handicap system that we have developed and continue to tweak. We take the Gliding Australia unballasted handicaps and adjust for pilot ability on a sliding scale. After each day’s flights are scored, each pilot’s handicap is adjusted either up or down depending on placing. The Libelle, for instance, had to fly more distance than the Arcus but, depending on the pilot, the handicaps can be quite varied.
Tasks of around two hours are set with task distance adjusted for each glider/pilot combination based on the handicap. Similar to Formula 1.0 – oops, SkyRace GP – a 10km start gate is used. When the gate opens, the race is on! Tasks are flown dry and in three classes, Club, Sports and two-seat coaching gliders.
Small daily prizes are awarded, as well as Embarrassment Awards for Gross Incompetence and Demonstrated Ineptitude. Pilots are encouraged to nominate their peers for these awards, and this always leads to a few laughs. Briefings were kept brief to allow the coaches to spend some time with their coaches prior to launch.
This year we had 27 Gliders and 39 individual pilots representing four of the SE Queensland Clubs. Kingaroy also kindly lent their Auto Tug CTA. For a change the weather was kind, and we flew seven out of eight days. Some people only flew for a few days, but others flew the whole comp, as final scores are based on the pilot’s best three days.
Due to the amount of rain over the previous weeks, much of the terrain was awash. This made tasking difficult and outlanding into some paddocks would have required a difficult retrieve. Fortunately, the weather enabled us to avoid much of the really flooded paddocks. There were a few paddock outlandings, but all into dryish (less wet) conditions, plus a couple of aero-tow retrieves.
Entrants included five World Gliding Competitors who each flew one or more days coaching in the two-seaters as well as some days in their own gliders. The camaraderie between pilots of all levels was outstanding and everyone made it a truly fun event. Most pilots stayed at the club, either in the Bunk House, or their own tent or caravan. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were catered by club members each day and the bar did a roaring trade each night. The Competition Director role was shared each day between Bob Flood and Mike Codling, allowing them to also participate in the competition.
The regatta saw over 10 first time competition pilots of varying skill levels, all bringing enthusiasm and in awe of fun, competitive flying. There were many ‘firsts’ through the regatta, from first competition to first outlanding, first retrieve, first day win and more. The highly sought-after Outlanding Trophy was hotly contested as contestants went neck and neck with number of outlandings.
All in all, it was a fun and competitive for all, and we look forward to next year.
Darling Downs SC Easter Regatta 2022
9 - 17 april 2022
1 David Griffin DDSC Arcus T 100 2,126
2 David Nash DDSC Discus 100 2,058
3 Lachlan Pond Sunshine Coast Std. Jantar 100 1,824
1 Mike Sabin Boonah Nimbus 3D 3,286
2 Lisa Trotter Kingaroy LS 8 2,272
3 Peter Trotter Kingaroy LS 8 2,058
2 Seater Class
1 GRL DDSC DDSC Duo Discus XL 2,274
2 GNL DDSC DDSC DG 1000/20m 1,203
3 Trevor Burke Sunshine Coast ASK 21 Mi 794
Full results at soaringspot.com bit.ly/3EEPc3b