Future Competition Trends

Goodhart - Moffat - Schreder - Smith

SMITH: For the short term, let's say, five to ten years, we know what competition soaring is going to be like. It's going to be done with the new ships, the Sigma, Nimbus, super ASW-12, super Cirrus, super Kestrel and the like, in open class competition. Those sailplanes will be in a state of development for several years. After they've gone through continuous improvement for the next three or four years, they will remain competitive for another three or four years. We're talking about designs that have a competitive life of perhaps ten years, so we've already seen or heard what the immediate future is like. Because we can realize a considerable increase in performance right now, it is more difficult to predict what's going to happen after those ten years are past.

What we're talking about in this current development, particularly in open class competition, is the extension of the speed range of the sailplane. We have had a tendency to think that performance is limited by the maximum capabilities of an airfoil at relatively low speeds. The ratios which will become more important are those which occur at higher speeds. The Sigma project is beginning seriously to penetrate this area of extended upper end speed range. The Nimbus obviously is making improvements in terms of achieved ground speed too. But it may be doing it at cruising speeds that are not much different than we're experiencing now. However, its efficiency at those speeds is much higher than we're accustomed to. Thus it's getting higher average speeds. Sigma, in contrast, is considering cruising speeds perhaps 25 percent greater than we've been accustomed to. The solutions vary a bit. Nimbus tends to refinement of the existing. Sigma pushes a bit more into seldom used concepts

In standard class, before this session, I had few thoughts about what the future might bring. It seems clear now, after bearing Hick's comments, that perhaps the biggest area for improvement is in the structures. New structures designed to considerably decrease sailplane weight. The implication for the short term is more money. The first impact of this structural development will not be great in terms of performance but considerable in cost.

I'm not convinced that we've done all we can with airfoils in standard class. I'm not even certain that Wortmann's latest information actually is being used on standard class sailplanes at the moment.

So that may be, for competition soaring, one view of the future: wider speed range, considerably extended on the high speed end for the open class; lighter structure and some lesser aerodynamic improvement for standard class machines.

SCHREDER: I would disagree with A.J. (Smith) on the higher costs of standard class. With a little attention to detail, the HP-16 could be cheaper than the current standard class sailplanes. On the subject of competition trends in the future, I think it is simply a case of having to work harder and prepare better for competition simply because there are more good pilots. We are getting to the point where it is necessary to limit the number of contestants in the Nationals. This means that instead of people just coming for the ride or just to fly around, most of those who enter will be serious competitors. If you want to win, you will have to be a little better than the next fellow, and that means you must work harder than you have before. I can only see that it's going to get tougher instead of easier. I think that is exactly why most of you are here -- to improve your techniques and your knowledge so that you can be better. You have taken a step in the right direction already.

GOODHART: I think I will take the opportunity, since it is the last panel discussion, to be a little provocative on this subject. Maybe we need to start with a bit of basic philosophy, and the starting point I am going to take is air space. I get the impression that there is a tendency for gliding in this country to be squeezed out of the air to an appreciable extent and that really you ought to be thinking on how to avoid this problem.

Gliding is undoubtedly a minority sport. Indeed, I would go so far as to say it was a minor minority sport, and for that reason you have no pull -- no pull whatever. Perhaps that is too strong, but it is pretty close to that. I suspect and, unless you develop some sort of popularity, I believe that you may be in for a fairly hard time. There comes the question of whether you must now temper your competition to give some sort of spectator appeal.

Right now, you run competitions for competition pilots, pure and simple. Indeed, other glider pilots don't even bother to come to the competitions. There is nothing duller, unless you are a competition pilot, or possibly a crew, than going to a competition. All the chaps get into their gliders and they don't even cross the line together. They cross the line and disappear. It is dull beyond all degree. With any luck, late in the evening a few of them turn up again and that is the end of it. It isn't a spectator sport; and I wonder, therefore, whether one could not dream up a new stage of competitions; still keep the competition pilots amused; but also providing some sort of spectator appeal.

I would like to go through a few, perhaps, dream possibilities which might lead to this state of affairs. First of all. the start is at present the dullest thing you ever saw, and I am actually convinced that, if you are going to get any spectator appeal into the starts, you must get what I call the Yarbury start. I don't visualize forty on the first day, but I do visualize ten aircraft crossing the line, or trying to cross the line at a specified time. I think it is perfectly feasible. I don't believe you would come to any harm at all. I am a bit scared of forty all at once, but I believe you can certainly run at least ten in complete safety. We might find that you can run more than that across the start line.

Now this will be impressive. Chaps will enjoy watching this., I'm pretty sure that a reasonably competent bunch of pilots will be able to keep out of each other's way while crossing the start line. Well, that gets you off to a first piece of spectator appeal.

Now the next thing is that this business where they all just disappear is all very fine, but I reckon they have got to keep on coming back. You have got to run a competition with a small closed circuit, even only 50 kilometers run, so that after you have done a simultaneous start, then the first chap who reappears is the chap in the lead. Somebody on the broadcast system can whoop up with a bit of enthusiasm with so-and-so appearing; coming around the corner; somebody cheering; somebody else coming in below him-, and, you know, you can soon jazz it up into quite a show; getting everybody interested.

But, of course, everybody doesn't want to around 50 kilometer triangles. Round and round, say, five times around a 50 kilometer or something like that. This gets a bit tedious for the pilots, so one then comes to the idea that what people are accustomed to doing in spectator sports if identifying themselves with teams, not with individuals. It a very difficult to identify yourself with an individual because he's an individual, but you can identify if you've got the Philadelphia Planeguiders or the whatever it might be, the Elmira Eggheads or whatever.

So you come to the idea that perhaps chaps ought to fly in teams of, say, three pilots, with three tasks on one day. You put your new ace recruit into the 50 kilometer round and round race and your old hand goes off an the distance task, crawling off into the middle distance, and somebody else does the 300 K triangle on the same day. So you can get the spectators amused with three starts. All through the day chaps keep on flashing around this small triangle. Meanwhile reports come in from distant turn points and, finally, of course, the little short triangle, five times round or whatever it is, finishes and there is great excitement as these chaps come flashing across the finish line and somebody has to stop for a thermal two miles out, you know, and there he is struggling. Another chap flashes by, and it's all splendid stuff, and they cross the line at 150 miles an hour because they got their final glides wrong, as you see happening everywhere. Meanwhile, of course, reports are still coming in from the distance, and finally, late in the evening everybody is tensely waiting. It is an exciting moment when you are waiting for the people on the distant starts to call in. It isn't just whether they have done any good, but whether their team is still ahead. Maybe they were perhaps in the lead on the first two races which have already been reported. You are still waiting for this final report of their man who hasn't landed yet and it's 7:30, 7:45, you know, or even 8:00, and by golly in comes a report and you find that the other chap's gone much farther and upset the team ratings. I could see you could keep a whole day going of really good spectator sport.

Now, to do this, of course, you must live in a country where when the spectators arrive they don't stand, as I say we do in England, In a damp, wet tent, getting cold. If you have reasonable weather and you could be reasonably sure of giving the spectators a day's sport, I reckon you could build up to the point where this could become quite a reasonable spectator sport.

Now this, of course, to the purists, is an appalling thought. They are in it for what they can get out of competition flying. That is their aim in life. But perhaps there are advantages in that where you get spectators you get money. One might actually get to the point where he might find that it's possible to get a certain amount of his expenses paid, if not completely, as is true in so many other sports.

I put this out as a purely provocative line of thought of a possible future competition trend. All these experts are telling you about what is actually going to happen.

MOFFAT: I like Nick's ideas very much, and one part of it is surprisingly similar to what I had jotted down on my trusty envelope here. In no particular order, I think I see about four or five things happening in the next five to ten years that A.J. was talking about.

First, I think we will see a whole new magnitude of pilot ability. I don't think we have even begun as yet, I can look at contests I have flown in the last three or four years and I can't think of one in which I haven't had at least one spectacularly stupid day, and usually three or four. I can look at A.J. and Dick, and I think everybody here, and see that they have had their little problems too. I think we're going to get an awful lot better. I think we had better get an awful lot better or we aren't going to be sitting up here on a symposium panel. I also think we are going to see young pilots coming to the fore. The only reason we haven't seen it as yet is very simple. Cash. In countries where cash isn't a factor, mainly Poland, the best pilots are usually fairly young. For example, Wroblewski. He didn't win the Internationals in open class in a Foka for nothing. He was about 23 at the time.

The next thing I think I see in the future is a change in tasks, perhaps not quite as extreme as Nick suggests, but I think the distance day will go. It practically has already gone in Europe, all except the U.K. I think speed days have so many advantages over distance days that they will naturally triumph in quite a short time. One of the problems is that as contests get larger, distance days get less and less practical, and the basic reason for this is takeoff times. Nobody has yet solved the problem that I know of a reasonable takeoff time system for distance dashes. Nick said if you have contest management select the takeoff times whoever happens to be low on the list has had it if it takes an hour to get every ship in the air. There is no way in five to ten hours of flying time to make up an hour lag in starting -- absolutely none. On our own pilot selected times it depends very heavily on the luck of the draw as to whether you have a reasonable early choice or not on the distance dash. This was not obvious last year at Marfa simply because the weather prediction and when you could start was so far off that all of us who knew it was far off could start whenever we wanted and we started early. Had it been as it usually is, I know at least one of us, probably two of us here, would have gotten completely had, by being at the end of a list an hour and fifteen minutes behind the chap who was at the head of the list. Of course, another advantage I see in all speed days is that you can get by with a smaller crew since traveling about doesn't seem to be so important. It also costs less, and it becomes less of a driving contest and much more of a flying contest.

I, for one, would hope that if we get all speed. days, that, particularly in regional contests -- but perhaps in all contests -- we outlaw re-lights. If you outlaw re-lights, you get away from all that high speed driving, and you get away from large crews. There is no need to have more than your wife for a crew if you have a standard class ship, if there isn't that desperate problem of getting the ship de-rigged back at the base and re-rigged again in nothing flat. So I hope re-lights will tend to go. It will foster a slightly different type of flying, a rather more cautious type of flying, but it will, I think, be equally fair to all.

At least in America, and probably all over, the thing that is probably going to be most important in the next little while is development of some sort of one-design class. I hope it will be a small one; I hope something around the size of a 1-26 but the general configuration and very much of the performance of the present-day standard ships. The German Hildago was a 13-meter ship (42 foot span) with 226 pound empty weight and a glide ratio reputedly up around 36. It did very well in the German Nationals in the open class a couple of years ago. It was to me an indication of what can be done.

Lastly, I think we ought to see -- we have to see -- very, very much more competition available than we have now. I am thinking of things not so much like more Regionals because Regionals are really, in a way, bad. Unless you have unlimited vacation time to get to more than one Regional and the Nationals in a year, it pretty much over-extends most of our vacation time. I know some people that like to do one or two other things besides soar with their vacations. A lot of people's wives, for example. What I am talking about is the kind of thing that is so common in yacht racing at the moment. The weekend series. I think this would fit beautifully with what Nick was just talking about, and what Dick -- in his usual pioneering sort of way -- was already doing early in the 1960's. That is, having short races with the turn points maybe only 20 miles away, in which you went round and round if you felt like distance or you made three circuits if you felt like speed. I flew one of these contests at PGC, and it was really one of the most enjoyable contest dates I can remember. We had a distance day. It was 20 miles out, 20 miles back, as many times around as you could manage. You always had somebody in sight, you always had somebody about whom you could say, "Well, he's only three miles ahead. I'm going to get him," and see whether you did get him or not. There was something to compete about, not that endless boredom of cat's cradle days where if you do see anybody, you haven't the faintest idea if he's going in the same direction as you happen to be.

I hope to see us having Saturday and Sunday series that would extend over, say, a spring series, summer series, fall series, as we do in small boat racing, where you could put together not just one day but a series of days. These races don't have to be long; they could be 50 kilometers, 100 kilometers. I would like to see them short enough so that you could rent a 1-26 and compete. You could have a 1-26 class if you happen to have a lot of 1-26's around, as we do at our airport. I think this sort of thing has to be explored.

I think something that Jim Herman was talking about recently is very important, too. We have got to have some means to train the people that are going to run these contests because we really don't have any mechanism at all at the moment for training people who are eager to run contests but who really don't have a clue as to how to go about it. I think we need some sort of book on that. Maybe That's the thing to have a symposium on sometime.

Those are the things I'd like to see in the future: particularly a one design class; hopefully ships that wouldn't cost much over $4000 or $5000; light ships; and easy ships to handle. I hope we see younger pilots. I hope we see all speed days. I hope we see a whole lot more competition, and competition that you don't have to take a week's vacation to go to.

Question And Answer Period

Comment: Regarding the it no re-light" rule, not having retrieve accidents or re-light accidents is reason enough for such a rule. I understand that they're doing this extensively in Europe now. In fact, I think it's the standard rule in most of the countries. I don't like any rule that takes away pilot options during the contest, but I think that, as George (Moffat) says, this is going to be fair to everybody because you'll all be operating under the same rules. About all it will do will be to make the brash pilot perhaps hesitate a little bit about dashing out with the knowledge that we can always reassemble and take a re-light.

Comment: (Goodhart) I should say I agree 100 percent that it would be a valuable rule. We don't have it in U.K. and I don't see us getting it, actually, for a while yet; but it is, as just confirmed, common in Europe now and I think universal.

Question; Since we're discussing this, I wonder if someone would point up the reasoning behind wanting this rule. I don't quite understand the reasoning behind it.

Answer: (Seibels) It would eliminate the temptation for crews to go charging about the countryside at 150 knots on the surface trying to locate their pilot after an off-field landing; disassemble the ship; get it back to the field; throw it back together; get off before the start line closes. I think there is a lot of inherent danger involved in this system. I have seen it during meets. I have had my hair stand on end at some of the near misses some of these people have had cruising around the back roads in South Carolina at something well over 30 miles an hour above the speed limit -- which is all considered good sporting until you kill an innocent farmer coming out of his driveway. We had a fatal accident in South Carolina back in the 1940's that stopped soaring down there for about 20 years and I don't want to see that happen again.

From a competitive standpoint, I think it could conceivably lead a brash pilot into having advantage over the rest of the field. Let's assume we have a weak day and some guy goes charging out on the course before the rest of the pack thinks it's possible, and it isn't possible, and he lands 10 to 12 miles out. The day slowly improves. The rest of the field goes out under these slowly improving conditions and struggles around the course. By the time he's back to the airport, reassembled, and gets a re-light, the weather has peaked and he has the advantage -- through no merit of his own -- of flying around the course under the strongest part of the day as a result of his mistake.

Comment: (Moffat) I feel pretty strongly that the present re-light rule is dangerous and unnecessary. I, too, have seen people take off in sailplanes that were very casually assembled. I've taken off in sailplanes that were very casually assembled. I had my tug, one day at El Mirage, nose over on takeoff because the pilot was frantically trying to get the thing into position so he could get me off one minute before the close of the takeoff line. I was delighted to see him nose over; it was the happiest day of my life; because that gave me five more minutes to tape. The HP-8 didn't fly very well untaped. It put the stall speed up about 10 mph, and the thermaling speed went from 67 to 77 or something like that. I think it's inherently dangerous to rush putting ships together. It seems to me that there is so little advantage that accrues from re-lighting or having re-lights. Further, I think one thing that's well worth remembering is that re-lights favor large crews, and large crews cost a lot of money. I don't think we should encourage a competition where money automatically wins. I can see virtually no advantage to allowing re-lights, and I can see a great many disadvantages that I think Gren (Seibels) has very aptly summed up.

Comment: (Schreder) I think all of us up here will go along with this eliminating the re-light. I, for one, would like it because my crew could stay back at the field on all of the triangle days and the out and return days. I have tended to do this anyhow -- trying to be a little careful not going down -- and I think all of those who do take chances would be a little more careful if we had this no re-light rule. I think all four of us up here are 100 percent for it.

Comment: Mr. Goodhart touched on something very nicely and strongly -- the idea of having competition that would be -basically within the sight of the spectators for maybe 60 or 70 percent of the flight. My idea was along the line of having the 1-26's flying in Regionals but not on the same task as the standard class and open class. Mr Goodhart's idea of having some of the machines within sight of the spectators fits the 1-26's very nicely under most conditions, and I would sure like to see the gentlemen on the panel try to encourage this idea.

Comment: (Schreder) Back about, I don't remember the exact year, but it must have been somewhere around 1963, we had a competition at Bryan which we timed to be just before the Nationals were going to be held in Elmira. We counted on catching a lot of people en route. We had about a 3-day warm-up contest and we conducted it in just the manner that we're talking about here. We had racehorse starts; we put everybody into the air; after the last man had a chance to get up we put out a symbol and this signified the opening of the course. We had points that were only at turnpoints that were about 10 miles away, maybe a little less, 8 miles: We had the gliders going south to one point, turning, coming back, and going north to another point -- they were going back and forth over the airport. I've forgotten how many circuits some of us made but we had 35 people show up for this competition. This is just in a little town of Bryan (7,500 population) and I think everyone had a very good time. They had a good warm-up for the Nationals; it was highly successful; we had no collisions; and I don't think there were any problems at all as I recall, on crossing the starting line. I think it works out very well.

Question: Did you have any spectators?

Answer: (Schreder) We had a lot of spectators, and the people around that part of the country are still talking about it -- how they saw all those sailplanes going back and forth.

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