While for many glider pilots there is enough thrill in learning how to fly a glider, enjoying the beautiful view and the serene peace up there, some are more competitively inclined.
Luckily, we also cater to these pilots, and we organise and participate in a range of competitions every year, suitable for everyone, from pilots with just a handful of flights to pundits who are already well on their way to becoming the next world champion.
Gliding Varsity Match
The annual Gliding Varsity Match, or just Varsity, is undoubtedly the most important competition on our schedule. Typically held at the end of June, this match is between the OUGC and the Cambridge University Gliding Club (CUGC). It is held alternatively at Bicester (our home field) or at Gransden Lodge (CUGC’s home).
Each club selects a team of between two and six pilots to participate. The competition in held over three days. The goal is for each pilot to gain as much height cumulatively during a 50 minute flight.The rules are:
- Pilots fly solo or with an instructor as safety pilot. The instructor cannot take control or give advice during the soaring part of the flight.
- Every pilot submits their best flight on the day.
- Both teams have to submit an equal amount of flights each day.
- Points are given for duration: 1 point per minute up to 50 minutes, and 6 points deducted for each minute over 50.
- Points are also given for height gain. For each climb maintained over at least 500ft, 2 points per 100ft height gain are given.
- Each day’s results are normalized by the median-scoring flight (which will be set to 100 points, and the other flights adjusted accordingly).
- The team with the highest combined score after three days wins.
- If weather conditions prevent soaring on all three days, then a spot-landing competition can be held as alternative format.
- At no part during the flight should the glider exceed Va (Max maneuvering speed).
- The flight needs to conclude with a normal circuit, and the final turn completed above 300ft QFE.
Score (home vs away)
|2017||Bicester||570 vs 555||OUGC|
|2016||Gransden Lodge||625 vs 496||CUGC*|
|2015||Bicester||740 vs 692||OUGC|
|2014||Gransden Lodge||478 vs 525||OUGC|
|2013||Bicester||371 vs 352||OUGC|
|2012||Gransden Lodge||38 vs 16||CUGC|
|2011||Bicester||129 vs 88||OUGC|
|2010||Bicester||496 vs 426||OUGC|
*Due to organisational issues, the competition was held in late November and a spot-landing format was adopted.
The Cuppers League is an internal competition, in which every matriculated OUGC pilot can participate on behalf of their college.
The format is similar to Varsity (and it is used as a way to practice for Varsity), with the exception that it is a year-round competition. On any given day, a member can perform a soaring flight and submit the GPS flight trace to the captains for scoring. Pilots can submit multiple flights throughout the year.
At the annual dinner, the Cuppers Trophy is awarded to the college/pilot with the highest scoring flight. Flights can only be made if the member is still matriculated at the time. However, if the pilot graduates between submitting the flight and the next Annual Dinner, the trophy can still be awarded to this pilot.
Flights submitted & scored for the 2017/2018 Cuppers League
Date of flight
Cum. height gain
|Pembroke||Dinant Riks||04-06-2017||JXM||29 min||2200 ft||73 points|
|St John's||Elliot Akama-Garren||19-06-2017||GD||46 min||4000 ft||126 points|
|Pembroke||Julie Dequaire||05-04-2018||HAL||35 min||2500 ft||85 points|
|Keble||Chia-Man Hung||05-04-2018||HAL||66 min||3800 ft||30 points|
Inter-University Task Week
The Inter-University Gliding Competition has a history of over 35 years, starting in 1979 with a flying competition organised by Nottingham at their home site of Saltby, between themselves and Edinburgh. The year afterwards Cambridge were added to the competition as well, and they hosted it the following year at their home airfield of Duxford.
Since then, the competition has been hosted by different universities in different years, at many different sites, each year making a slight tweak to the rules and the organisation to try out new ideas and keep it interesting for the teams.
The Inter-Unis isn't like a standard gliding competition with races around a set task - instead, it is more of a fun week in which flying and progression is heavily encouraged, and points are given for achievements of any kind, whether it is learning landings or a 500 km cross-country task. Task suggestions are given in the mornings, but competitors are free to decide where they want to fly on a given day, or they might choose to stay flying locally and try and do well in the soaring competition or attempt a duration flight for a gliding badge. Points are also given for some social activities in the week, such as a quiz.
The week is different things to different people - some like to get away from home and fly in a different part of the country, some like to come along to make a lot of progress in their flying with a concentrated week of training, some like the challenge of flying cross-country every day and some like socialising with like-minded people from other parts of the country.
Inter University Task Week results since 2010
|2017||Lasham (Surrey University)||Imperial (XC), Edinburgh (Soaring), Loughborough (Progression)|
|2016||Bicester (OUGC)||Bristol (XC), UCL (Soaring), Oxford (Progression)|
|2015||Bicester (UCL)||Edinburgh (XC), Bristol (Soaring), Oxford (Progression)|
|2014||Saltby (NUGC)||Bristol (XC), Loughborough (Soaring, Progression)|
|2012||Pocklington (Loughborough)||Edinburgh (Soaring, XC), Loughborough (Progression)|
|2011||Aston Down (Bath)||Edinburgh|
|2010||Bicester (NUGC)||Bath (XC, Progression), Nottingham (Soaring)|
The most experienced OUGC pilots (Silver badge required) can also enter in cross-country competitions, such as the Junior Nationals (for pilots up to the age of 25) or the Bicester Regionals.
Pilots compete individually in a single-seater, sharing a single-seater on alternating days or in a two-seater. These competitions usually last 9 days, with a task between 100km and 400km set each day, depending on the weather conditions. The goal is to pick just the right time to cross the start line, and then to complete the task as quickly as possible. Points are awarded for speed, but if gliders don’t complete the task, they get some points for distance as well. The glider/team with the most points at the end of the competition wins.
Gliders compete in different classes, with OUGC pilots typically competing in the Club or Sports class, which is for the lower performance gliders such as the ASK21, Twin Acro, Astir, Libelle, Cirrus, LS4 and Discus. Other classes are the 15m race class, 18m class and Open class.
OUGC’s Chris and Dinant participated in the Bicester Regionals in 2016, flying FEF, and ended up 11th out of 26 in the Sports class. That year, Rupert and Qin flew with instructors in ESB. In 2017, both FEF and ESB are registered to fly in the Bicester Regionals.
The University Ladder is a year round, online cross-country competition linked to the BGA ladder. Pilots can upload their flights to this ladder, and get points for cross-country distance and speed. The scores from the six best flights from pilots from each of the UK’s university gliding clubs get added together. There is, however, some controversy around this competition, as some of the pilots are still scoring for their University even after graduation?
This page was last updated 14th June 2017.