Many of the UK’s fastest glider pilots will be in Cambridgeshire between Saturday, August 1st and Sunday 9th for the prestigious National Gliding Championships being held at the Cambridge Gliding Centre at Gransden Lodge.

The competition will be in two classes; one for gliders with a wingspan of up to 20m and two pilots (the “20 Metre Class”), the other an Open Class, where the only limit is a maximum 850kg all-up weight.

Top pilots competing in the event include Sarah Kelman, the fastest woman round a 600km triangular course in the UK (at an average speed of 84 kph), and Wendy Head, fastest woman round a 400km UK triangle (averaging 100 kph). Both will be competing in the 20 Metre Class, along with Phil Jeffrey, the fastest Briton round a 750km triangle (averaging 152 kph and set in South Africa earlier this year).

Meanwhile, Shaun Lapworth, holder of British 300km and 500km triangle records (also set in South Africa), will be flying his 21m glider in the Open Class, alongside two-time world champion, Andy Davis, who’s just back from taking a Bronze medal in the 18m European Gliding Championships in Hungary.

“With so many top pilots participating, competition over these nine days of top-class glider racing promises to be intense,” says Contest Director Iain Baker. “On each contest day the gliders will be launched between about 11am and 2pm, and will race around a pre-set course of up to 500 kilometres (375 miles) at heights of up to 6,000 feet and speeds touching 250 kph (150 mph) – without using an engine. This year, for the first time, our competition website will display live maps showing contestants’ positions with a live text commentary, allowing everyone to follow the action as the races unfold in the skies above southern England.”

“We are delighted to be hosting the 20m and Open Class Nationals,” says Paul Ruskin, Chairman of Cambridge Gliding Club. “There will be a full programme of spectator and social events, including a gliding simulator, live contest tracking on a big screen, catering from 7am every day, a fully stocked bar, live music and visits by historic aircraft.

“Cambridge Gliding Centre is open 52 weeks a year, and we always welcome anyone who would like to fly gliders, whether they have previous experience or not.”

For more details, and to watch the racing live, visit the competition website:, or follow the racing via Twitter (@Open20m).

There’s lots more information about Gransden Lodge, and the people of the Cambridge Gliding Centre, in the Airfield Profile article in the September issue of Pilot magazine, on sale August 12.

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