The World Championships in Uvalde

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The World Gliding Championships 2012 in Uvalde are now history and by all accounts they were a full success. It was a well-run contest and put the contest pilots through 13 days of hard flying in generally very strong conditions. It was a contest for the “flapped” FAI classes - 15m, 18m and Open.

The WGC 2012 will continue in Chaves, Argentina for the “unflapped” classes – Standard, Club and World (for the last time). Incidentally, this contest will take place in Jan. 2013 but is still counted as WGC 2012.

So here are the results for Uvalde:

The 15m class was won by Sebastian Kawa flying a Diana-2. It was his 5th world championship win (surpassing Ingo Renner’s 4 wins) and put him in second place in the FAI ranking list. Sebastian Kawa also has several wins in the Grand Prix races and showed again that the Diana-2 in the hands of a competent pilot is nearly unbeatable. He is also the defending Standard class champion and will defend his title in Chaves. He has a chance of winning 2 WGC titles in one year!

The 18m class was won by Zbigniew Nieradka flying an ASG-29, repeating his win in Szeged and putting him in first place in the FAI ranking. Several other Polish pilots were also placed very well in the 15m and 18m classes, giving Poland the (unofficial) team trophy.

The Open class was technically the most interesting with many former world champions and several new designs competing for the honors. Laurent Aboulin prevailed with a brand new Quintus M, possibly setting a new direction for the Open class. This was quite an advance over his performance in Uvalde at the WGC 1991 when he ended up in 21st place in the Open class.

Second was Michael Sommer flying the EB-29 with a 25.3m span featuring shorter outboard wing panels for racing in strong conditions. He gave Aboulin a run for the money but could not quite repeat his win in Szeged.

Third was Oscar Goudraans, a 16-time veteran of WGCs (!) flying a 21m Jonkers JS-1C. He too had been in Uvalde before, finishing 28th in Standard at the WGC1991.

So what about the technical side of the competition?

In 15m and 18m there were no new designs, with the 15m class being decided between the Diana-2 and the ASW-27, and the 18m class being decided between the ASG-29 (first 3 places), and the JS-1B. A few Lak-17s, a single LS-10, and a single Antares 18 were in the also-ran category and there were no DG or HPH designs.

The Open class was a hotly contested competition not just between pilots but also manufacturers. Schempp-Hirth fielded no fewer than 7 new Quintus (23m) and Lange supplemented this with 2 Antares 23, the sister ship of the Quintus. Binder provided the EB-28s and -29s with new shortened outboard wing panels (for 25.3m), and Jonkers was able to get 4 JS-Cs (with new outboard wing panels for 21m) into the field. Surprisingly, no Schleicher ASH-30 or ASH-31 was present. Dick Butler’s 28m Concordia was flown into 7th place and Ron Tabery flew his 28.3m ASW-22 into 10th place. A facetious observer could almost conclude that wing span was more important than piloting, the Quintus representing the optimum. It certainly was a vindication of the new design direction of Schempp-Hirth’s Open class design (and Lange’s Antares 23).

Another observation: two-seaters that had become more common in the Open class seemed to be out of favor again – there were only a few and the best ended up in place 14 (an EB-28).

In this context it may also be of interest that Nimeta, the one-off design combining the 31m ETA wings with a single-seat Nimbus 4 fuselage, has crashed during flight testing and all ETAs were grounded. It may be a long time before we see again a new design with an extreme wing span.