The winners

Congratulations to the winners, Sebastian Kawa (Gold), Werner Amann (Silver), and Tilo Holighaus (Bronze)!



Tilo and Giorgio after another successful skyscraper flight.

Downtown Demos

At the end of the day we were able to make a few demonstration flights in the 2-seat Arcus motorglider.

Another day cancelled

The wind has spoiled our plans again, and the Director has decided to cancel the day.

We will begin early tomorrow and finish the final round before sunset!

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December 8 schedule

We will be ready to fly the semifinals today, beginning at 0930 UTC.

The weather is VMC.  Current winds in the desert are light, but the forecast is for 20 knots at sunset. We will see!

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The best view in Dubai


Gliding over the skyscrapers of Dubai

For the first time, a modern sailplane has flown over downtown Dubai.

The demonstration flight was planned to take place from the Palm Jumeirah airstrip (in the foreground of the photo).  But the crosswind there was too strong.

The motorglider took off from the Desert Campus where the Glider Match Race is being held, flew 45 kilometres to the city, and posed for photographs before returning to the desert.

We look forward to the photos taken from the helicopter, and we will ask our friend Klaus Ohlmann  how the flight compared with gliding over Mount Everest.

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Today's flying is cancelled

The Director has cancelled flying for today, December 7, due to the forecast for strong winds all day.

Later in the day we will post more news here.

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Outlaws in the desert

No finish penalties here.

A good day of racing in progress

At 1200 UTC the sixth race of the day has just started. We will probably get two more in before the towplane curfew.

It has been a very successful day of racing, with some very close results.  The smallest margin of victory was 0.3 seconds, claimed by Werner Amann.  Roman Mracek took the news like a true sportsman.

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Live streaming available

Our technical wizard, Mira Valek, has added live streaming of the races to our website.

Our racing is scheduled to begin at 1000 UTC today, but we have learned that this can be delayed, and that we would be wise to take every opportunity we can find.

A typical race flight lasts only 12 minutes (including the aerotow), and we realize that it is difficult to catch one in real time on the internet.

For the rest of the event, we will try to announce the takeoffs on our Twitter List, which is located just below the streaming frame on this page.

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Weather is changing

The weather patterns in the Persian Gulf are unfamiliar to most of us.

Today began with a moderate fog which doesn't seem to affect the balloonists at all. The question is whether the poor visibility will continue long enough into the day to delay one or more of the airsport events.

We are hoping the fog lifts soon. The Glider Aerobatics discipline needs only two more flights, and after that the towplanes will be available to us full time.

The wind, which has so far not been a factor for Glider Match Racing, is forecast to strengthen on Sunday and Monday.  We will probably be able to fly, as long as the air isn't full of sand.

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Schedule - December 5


Day 1 completed

The towplanes were a bit late, so we were able to have only four of the five planned races today.  The official results are available on the RESULTS page.

We will have fewer scheduling conflicts with the other air sports tomorrow, so we're confident that we will catch up with our schedule.

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Ready to race

The first three match races on Day 1 are:

Werner Amman vs. Giorgio Galetto

Tilo Holighaus vs. Sebastian Kawa

Roman Mracek vs. Rene Vidal

Only one place to land

In case you were wondering why we must keep our pilots within gliding range of home, here is the reason:

Interview - Giorgio Galetto

On the practice day Giorgio Galetto had a good flight despite some instrument problems.

(We promise not to use vertical video format in the future).

Schedule - December 4


Finish line

First Briefing and problem solving

The pilots had their first Briefing this morning, our alleged practice day.

Event Director Roland Stuck welcomed the pilots to Dubai and explained that he was not optimistic that a practice race will take place today.

Instead, we will spend the first half of the day preparing the gliders, with the goal of being ready to launch when the single towplane shows up.  Due to scheduling conflicts with the ANR event, and due to the fact that we will have only one towplane today, our "practice" will consist of simulated racing and testing of the tracking/scoring system. This is a bit of a disappointment to the Organisers, but the pilots are taking it in stride.

While the gliders are flying, Roland will be working hard to get a guarantee of two towplanes for tomorrow.

Tonight will be the Opening Ceremony.

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This might be a problem

Today was our originally scheduled practice day. We were planning to have a pilot briefing at 1000, followed by flying from 1400 until 1730.

Late last night, we received word from the Organisers that the towplanes were needed elsewhere at that time, and that we should do our flying early in the morning instead.

This is obviously impossible, and we will probably lose the day altogether.

With this new racing format, practice is essential.  Our schedule was already tight.

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Schedule - December 3


The weather in Dubai

Our weather has been very pleasant, and it is forecast to stay that way.

The temperatures have been in the high 20s C, with north winds and clear skies.  Every afternoon we get a land breeze that grounds the microlights, but not the skydivers.  Skydivers are fearless.

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This is probably the first international gliding competition in which the number of officials equals the number of pilots entered.  The Event Director is Roland Stuck, and his team consists of Eric Mozer, Pierre Laulhere, Alexander Georgas, Miro Valek, and Rick Sheppe.

The officials arrived yesterday and have been working all day today on logistical matters, both large and small.  The largest one so far is that we may not have two towplanes for all the scheduled race days. We have been discussing how we can make it work with just one, but so far we haven't come up with a plan that makes sense.  We may have to stand down on one of the scheduled days and use the reserve day (December 9). It seems strange to have a rest day in the middle of a five day contest.

Our other tasks include getting the scoring and tracking systems working, installing glide computers and negotiating with our fellow airsports for practice time. The skydivers outnumber us by at least a factor of 10.

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National Day

Happy National Day to the United Arab Emirates, a confederated nation since 1971, and a member of FAI since 2012.


In a Match Race, the gliders must be matched

In order to be fair, the two gliders used must have identical performance. This means, among other things, that they should have the same weight and centre of gravity, regardless of individual pilot weights.

In order to achieve this, a variety of lead weights have been provided for installation in the gliders, and calculations have been made to determine how to use them.

For those interested in the technical details, they are in the Ballast Plan.

The gliders have arrived

The people in Dubai are wondering what could be in those strange trailers.


Introduction to Glider Match Racing III

The event lasts five days.  The Qualification Round will occupy the first three days.  During this round, every pilot will fly against every other pilot in order to qualify for the semi-finals on the fourth day.  The fifth day will determine the final ranking.


Introduction to Glider Match Racing II

The gliders will be towed to the same height (1000 meters above the ground) and they will release simultaneously before crossing the start line.

The total length of the course will be approximately 25 kilometres, so the glide ratio from start to finish will be about 25:1.  The proper choice of cruising speeds on course, through the Turn Point circles, and on final glide to the finish line will determine the winner of the race.

The race courses are symmetrical, and each pilot must stay on his side of the runway centreline at all times during the race.  Crossing the centreline or exceeding the speed limit will result in a disqualification.

The Turn Points are circles of 500 meter radius.  There is another (lower) speed limit when inside the Turn Point circles, so the pilots will have to slow down carefully before entering each circle.


Introduction to Glider Match Racing I

The aircraft that will be used in the World Air Games are being provided by the Fédération Française de Vol à Voile.

They are a pair of Schempp-Hirth Discus 2c gliders, of 18 meter wing span. The gliders have consecutive serial numbers, and they will be ballasted for each flight, so that the all up weight and center of gravity positions will be the same.

As a further step to address fairness, the pilots flying against each other will alternate flying each glider.


How did we get here?

The World Air Games have been called the "Olympics of Air Sports."  The Games were established in the mid-1990s with the intention that they would take place every four years.  Unlike the Olympics, it isn't the countries that are invited, it's the Sports themselves. So the idea was that a good majority of the 11 Air Sports would show up each time and conduct their own international competitions.

Not surprisingly, it turned out that hosting the World Air Games consumes a vast amount of time, money and labor, and to date, only four countries have accomplished it: Turkey (1997), Spain (2001), Italy (2009), and now UAE (2015).  The Sport of Gliding has been to every one.

In the summer of 2014, FAI announced that the next World Air Games would take place in Dubai, UAE at the end of 2015.  In the press release, ten air sport disciplines were mentioned, and Gliding wasn't one of them. The glider pilots of the world didn't seem to mind this, since it was assumed that the airspace restrictions in this part of the Middle East would present some challenges to holding a traditional competition, and the December time frame didn't inspire great confidence in the prospects for thermal soaring.

UAE seems to have a compulsion for bidding on international sporting events (2013 FIFA U17 World Cup2015 DP World Tour Championship2015 Formula 1 Grand Prix, 2016 Dubai World Cup, 2016 Duty Free Tennis Championship, Dubai Rugby Sevens, and the ever-popular Red Bull Flugtag).

When they decided to host the World Air Games, the Emirates told FAI that it was important to them to have the participation of all 11 Air Sports, without exception. Before FAI could explain that it wasn't logistically feasible for every sport to come to Dubai, the EAF said, "... and we'll pay for it all."  That changed everything.

The new financial situation meant that the sport of Gliding would make an appearance, even if it involved inventing a new competition.  So that's what we did.

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Welcome Race Fans

Welcome to the daily news blog of the Gliding Event of the Dubai World Air Games.

This will be a new experience for all of us.  With the exception of a single day of feasibility testing at Varese in September, this will be the first time that Glider Match Racing has been tried.  The pilots and officials are looking forward to sharing this adventure.

And it will be a new experience for the local organisers, the Emirates Aerosports Federation, who have never before hosted an international gliding event.

This blog will be a combination of race reporting and a collection of personal impressions of what it's like to conduct a new race in a new place.

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