US Team to the 10th Women’s World Championships
Lake Keepit, NSW, Australia
December 30, 2019-January 20, 2020
Introducing Our Team!
John Good ~ Team Captain
Sarah Arnold came home with a silver from the last Women’s World Championships in Czechoslovak in 2017, her second medal in world competition. She tuned up her game even further with the pre-Women’s Worlds in Australia last winter. Now she’s headed back this December for the main event, to be head at Lake Keepit, NSW in December/January. And she’s flanked by two outstanding fellow competitors – aerospace engineer Kathy Fosha who flew for the Juniors in Rieti, and newcomer Sylvia Grandstaff who flew a mere 900 combat hours in Afghanistan at the helm of a Chinook . Both of them teamed up with her at the pre-Worlds last year and will round out a Team that gained incredibly valuable experience with the site. Where do we find such accomplished and impressive women in this small sport our ours? Add to that the coaching skills and steady hand of John Good as Team Captain and it is easy to get downright optimistic about our chances come January!
Bring home those medals, ladies!
But we gotta get them there. Plane tickets, glider rentals, accommodations – it all adds up, y’all. These are not pleasure cruises – just the basics – but it costs to get them half way around the world and in the air with a shot at good results. The Women’s Soaring Pilot Association (WSPA) and the US Team Committee have done great work so far – read all about the funds raised and the Team budget at the link below – but we’re only part way there. If you want our women to come home all smiles and put one on your face in the process, go to (https://www.ssa.org/Giving?show=blog&id=5860#DonateForm) to find out more about our current fundraising status.
You can also review the full budget for the Team, as well as where we are against our fundraising needs on the site.
If you like what you see, you can contribute on-line or send a check in to the SSA office.
They’ll thank you for the support, as will we all!
Lake Keepit Soaring Club (https://keepitsoaring.com) is Australia's only 365 day a year soaring operation and one of Australia's best known sites for cross country soaring It is the second largest Aussie club by membership. Located on the edge of Lake Keepit and within the grounds of the Lake Keepit State Park, the club is known for its welcoming atmosphere, 7 day a week training and rewarding cross country flying.
January is the height of the Aussie soaring summer and conditions at Lake Keepit should be just strong as they were in 2019. From John Good’s notes during the pre-Worlds one day:
“All pilots completed their 3-hour Area tasks and collectively achieved the best average speeds of the contest. Sarah had a very good day (374 km at 118 kph), finishing third, just one point out of second.
Lake Keepit has thus far delivered the kind of soaring conditions that the most optimistic would have hoped for: lots of heat, plenty of cumulus clouds with high bases (often reaching 9000’ above valley elevations), strong lift and thus excellent cross-country speeds. This is largely attributable to a serious drought currently plaguing much of eastern Australia.
The local lake gives stark evidence of this: it’s currently a huge, mostly dry depression filled with both grassy plains and extensive smooth dirt. At its lowest point lies a minor body of water, a few hundred acres in area and probably with a maximum depth not much more than 20 feet. Large number of pelicans are found here; presumably the remaining fish are still enough to keep them fed, and are likely easier to catch than when dispersed throughout a
much larger body of water.
Farmers, ranchers and probably many others are no doubt hoping this drought will soon come to an end. Glider pilots are (quietly) hoping it continues. “
Australia can produce some of the worlds best flatland flying, and our Team is raring to go!
Women have a long and very significant history in the story of gliding, both in cross country flying and in competition, the latter as early as 1935 at Elmira with a 5 ½ hour duration flight by Alaire du Pont, duration being a competitive event at the time. The Women’s Soaring Pilot Association’s Hangar News newsletter has published the remarks of Frauke Elber at the SSA Convention in 2006. Her presentation chronicled this story in great detail and can be reviewed in full here: https://womensoaring.org/women-championships/.
After an early start for women-only contests in Eastern Bloc countries beginning as early as the late 1940’s, an
International Contest for Women (but not a World Championship!) was first held in Leszno Poland in 1973. After a number of these, a breakthrough was finally made with the FAI and the first Women’s World Gliding Championships were held in Lithuania in 2001. Won by Gillian Spreckly, this gave Gill and her husband Brian the distinction of being the only married couple who have each won a world title!
We are now up to the 10th such event, and they are well established, very competitive and well attended – the 2017 contest in the Czech Republic had 48 contestants spread over 3 classes.
Rules and scoring are identical to non-gender specific World Championships, as are called course lengths and achieved speeds. As you can imagine, the competition is fierce – typically the winning score is within 100 points of second place, and this over 5-9 days of racing.
Sarah will be participating in her third WWGC – she placed third for the bronze medal in 2013 at Issoudun, France, winning the first competition day. She then came home with the silver medal from the Czech Republic in 2017.
Click the images below to Get Up Close and Personal With Our WWGC Team!
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