FAI World Grand Prix Gliding Championships
are competitions for gliders
that is both more spectacular and more easily understood by the public than conventional gliding
existed before the second world war but as the technologies evolved, the performance of the gliders
has taken them away from the public view. Furthermore the scoring is complex and gliders can start at different times. As a result the first world gliding competition in Grand Prix format was held in France
at Saint Auban
. This was at the Salon Européen du Vol à Voile (European Sailplane Show/Exhibition) in 2005 as part of the FAI
's marketing strategy to promote the sport of gliding by establishing annual international competitions.
In a gliding Grand Prix the gliders race in competition close together around a pre-set task. A smaller number of competitors reduces the risks of the simultaneous start. A place-scoring system provides rewards for excellence without unduly punishing a poor performance.
- A task, typically 2-3 hour in duration and between 200 and 400 km in length is set.
- All gliders start at the same time (similar to a yacht race).
- The gliders must cross the short start line not above a set height and not faster than a set maximum speed.
- The start/finish line is generally close to the airfield so that it can be observed by spectators.
- Gliders race around the task. No team flying is permitted. The first one home wins as they all started at the same time.
- A place scoring system is used, with 1 point for every finisher you beat, plus a bonus point for coming home first. (similar to a Motor Grand Prix).
- Pilots aim to fly as fast as possible, because there is little incentive to keep fellow competitors in sight to preserve a big lead overall by only losing by a few points on a given day
- Flying around the task with a group of other gliders is often not beneficial, because if you come home only a few seconds behind the group, you could lose many points
- The aim is to be in front at the finish, so making bold tactical moves can mean a big difference in results