JS dominates 18m and Open Class in the 33rd World Gliding Championships

JS dominates 18m and Open Class in the 33rd World Gliding Championships

The 33rd World Gliding Championships for the 15m, 18m and Open Class were held in Leszno, Poland from 26 July to 9 August 2014. 133 pilots from all over the world gathered with the latest equipment to determine the best glider pilots. In the Open Class all eyes were on the 28m wingspan EB29 from Binder, the 23m Quintus from Schempp-Hirth and the agile 21m JS1-C Revelation, from Jonker Sailplanes. In the 18m class Jonker Sailplanes announced the new JS1-18 EVO competing against the well proven ASG18 from Alexander Schleicher and the Ventus 2C-ax from Schempp-Hirth. During the practice days some awesome weather dominated the task area, with pilots racing at high speeds down the Great Polish Forest north of Poznan. Tasks of well over 500km were common, and speeds touching 150km/h were achieved…. Weather made for the JS1-C 21 with its 59kg/m2 wing loading. The first couple of days started with good weather, with the tasks under set. Ronald Termaat from the Netherlands won day one in the Open Class, completing the assigned area tasks of nearly 400km at 140km/h. In the 18m Class the strong Polish team of Karol Staryszak in his ASG29 and Lukasz Wojcik flying a JS1-18 dominated the first 3 days. The JS1s were positioned strongly, occupying positions 3 to 6, with the Jonker Brothers creeping up in the top 6. In the Open Class, Andy Davis from the UK, followed by Killian Walbrou of France lead the Open Class after day 6, proving that the agile JS1-C 21 is formidable in any weather.
Day 6 was the game breaker for many Pilots: It was the first speed tasks and severe thunderstorms were predicted over the task area. All classes were sent to the East, and serious overdevelopment was observed towards the first turn point, even before the start gates were opened. A storm line linking cells for hundreds of kilometres from North to South prevented a direct line to the 1st turn point. Most pilots managed a way through the storm, followed by a bleak looking final glide into the 1st turn point in light drizzle. A few pilots managed to climb away over the first turn in a very broken turbulent thermal, while lower gliders had to search for other climbs near the storm. Most pilots headed off towards the 2nd turn point searching in vain for another climb. The Jonker brothers, flying with John Coutts, decided to back up the track towards some turning gaggles, just to land without converting the height they had into precious distance points. John Coutts, the master of storms, observed wind turbines changing direction, and manage to a climb in converging air masses from a low altitude, well off track. John managed a couple more climbs and was unlucky not to complete the task - he however still received maximum points for the day, and in the process wiped out most of leader’s margin. In the Open Class, Uli Schwenk took the overall lead with his second place, while Michael Sommer started his advance towards the podium.
After 2 cancelled days, the weather improved slowly, but noticeably faster than the task setter’s gut feel. Conservative task setting with devalued scoring days make it hard for the trailing pilots to make up lost points. The last day of the 2014 WGC was filled with excitement and not without reason. Every second of the day would make a difference between winning gold and losing it. In the Open Class the two frontrunners, Andy Davis from Great Britain and Michael Sommer from Germany, were separated by only 11 points. The final day was the decision maker to determine the final placement of the Top10 in each class. With the day developing too slow to the organiser’s liking, the appropriate A tasks were replaced by a shorter B-tasks only to be replaced by a conservative short C task. Uys Jonker kept South Africa’s name high by completing the race in first position with his JS1-B in the 18m Class. This moved him up into the Top 5, but was however not enough to secure him a podium position. The Polish team suffered a stressful flight, struggling to get on final glide. Finishing well after the leaders it seemed if they may have blown the day. With scores coming in, John Coutts was now ahead of Karol for a while. Fortunately for Karol a few late finishers were slow enough change the speed-distance-points balance into Karol’s favour. As Coutts bizarrely puts it: “Uys, if you flew 2 minutes slower there would have been more ‘finishers’, and a JS1 on the podium!!” Unfortunately for Andy Davis he was last on the grid, and with some delays with broken tow ropes, he did not have enough time to reach cloud base before the overcast mid-layer clouds moved in. Michael Sommer, three time World Champion, used the extra time in the air to good effect and climbed well above the rest of his class. This allowed him to complete the first weak leak without climbing, and catching up with this rivals. Michael finished the task in 1st position for the day, snatching the gold medal away from Andy Davis, who had been leading the open class since day 5. The Polish glider pilots were tops at the 33rd World Gliding Championships in Leszno. Sebastian Kawa managed to defend his World Champion in the 15-metre Class, whilst Karol Staryszak won the gold medal in the 18-metre Class and his partner Łukasz Wójcik, took the bronze medal. The Jonker Sailplanes produced glider, the JS1, achieved fantastic results in the competition. There were 15 JS1 gliders that competed in the WGC, with 5 gliders in the Top10 of both the 18m Class and Open Class. Congratulations to all JS1 pilots – You made us proud. The positions of the JS1 gliders are:
The Official Closing Ceremony of World Gliding Championships was held on Sunday in Central Market Square in Leszno. Winners were decorated with medals, there were national flags on flagpoles and the national anthems of the Polish, the German, and the British people sounded over the loudspeakers. After three weeks, 10 competition days, 6 area tasks and 4 race tasks and a few thunder storms, the Championships came to an end. The next biggest task is for the countries outside of Europe getting their gliders packed into their containers and shipped back home. The next World Gliding Championships will be held in Australia in 2016.