A grand total of 102 gliders and 122 pilots will fly above the beautiful Finnish lakes and forests in hot pursuit of coveted titles of World Gliding Champions this coming summer. The participants to these 33rd FAI World Gliding Championships come from 27 countries.
The champions will be crowned in three classes, Club, Standard and 20 meter two-seater classes. Each country can send two pilots and gliders to Club and Standard classes but the sport’s governing body FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) has restricted the two-seater class to only one glider from each country. Even with this restriction the Räyskälä Worlds is going to be the biggest gliding event ever in Finland. It is also the second WGC on this gliding site, situated some 100 km NW from Helsinki.
The 15th World Gliding Championships were flown at Räyskälä in June of 1976. There were 86 participants in two classes (Standard and Open) and the champions were household names in world class gliding, i.e., George Lee (UK, Open Class) and Ingo Renner (Australia, Standard Class).
Many things have changed since that time. In 1976 turn point verification was based on photography and the results were posted on a huge, wooden scoreboard. Its updating required the manpower of a full gliding club. Next summer verification is, naturally, based on GPS logging and the results are posted immediately online.
The technological evolution has enormously increased the productivity of this particular activity, the organization of gliding contests. This is why the essential contest operations can be handled by one club, Nuorisoilmailijat (Youth Aviators), which is one of the largest and most active clubs in Finland. Its home base is Räyskälä and its partner in organizing this event is the keeper of the field, Räyskälä Säätiö (Foundation). The latter will obviously take care of infrastructure and logistical problems. A kind of Godfather in this is the Finnish FAI affiliate Finnish Aeronautical Association, which applied for and was awarded the right to organize the 33rd WGC.
Räyskälä is the most active gliding center in Nordic countries. The field was originally built (but never used) by the military during the war. It was growing sizable trees when the gliding club of Hämeenlinna, some 30 kms NW from Räyskälä, came and started a huge clearing and construction operation, led by the club’s legendary pioneer Juhani “Janne” Horma. He also piloted the first glider flight at Räyskälä in 1963.
Since then Räyskälä has hosted the vast majority of Finnish national gliding contests and a number of major international events, as well. After the 1976 Worlds these included the Junior World Championships in 2009 and the European Championships in 1996 and 2005. The weather has cooperated, at least occasionally. The (as far as we know) only 1,000 km task in a major gliding contest was set during the 2005 European contest. 17 out of 20 Open class ships made it back home.
The 33rd World Championships will start with the traditional practice period. The field will be open all the time but the unofficial training gets under way on Monday June 16. The official training days are June 19-21. The Opening Ceremony is scheduled for the evening of Saturday June 21 (which is the important Finnish public holiday called Midsummer). Contest flying days are June 22 to July 5 and the prizes will be given in the Closing Ceremony on June 6th at 11.00 local time.
Results will be available daily on the contest web site www.wgc2014.fi and through Soaring Spot. The tracking system will be installed in at least 20 competing gliders each day. The details of this arrangement can be found later on the contest web site. Photographs from the competition and the airfield can be downloaded from www.wgc2014.fi/press . You can also follow us in the social media at www.facebook.com/WGC2014 and www.twitter.com/WGC2014 .
Ours will not, however, be the only 33rd World Gliding Championships to be flown this summer. Our Polish friends will host the 33rd in flapped classes: 15 meter, 18 meter and Open classes in Leszno. Contest flying days there are July 27 until August 9. The details can be found at www.wgc2014.hb.pl.
RÄYSKÄLÄ WGC 2014 CONTACTS:
Competition director: Heikki Pohjola
tel. +358 40 733 1381