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2004 Cross Country Racing Experience Camp

U.S. Team Sponsored 04 Junior Development Camp - Click Here

2004 Sugarbush Cross Country and Racing Experience Camp. Held in conjunction with the Region 1 Championship, June 15-26

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One thing that is a near constant among glider pilots it is the drive to improve our flying skills. Unfortunately when we solo there is not much support in this country for teaching the next phase of a glider pilots training namely cross country and competition flying. These skills are normally self taught and can take years to master. Sure you can read the books, analysis the flights, and make timid attempts at departing the airport but how about a week on intensive hands on training and flying dual with the masters of the sport? All in a safe and fun environment? That is what the 2004 Sugarbush Cross Country and Contest Camp was all about. Organized by Doug Jacobs and members of the U.S. soaring team and others this camp was a big success this year.

A very wise instructor onece said, "when you learn soar your in for a couple of years of entertaining flying, but when you learn to go cross country or fly competitively you have a lifetime of adventure ahead of you".

Many a new cross country pilot developing his or her skills will also want to sample the racing environment. Why? Different reasons for all but with one common thread – the experience of flying the same course with more practiced competitors represents a tremendous learning curve toward improving pilot capabilities. Most come back from their first competition raving about how much they learned, and immediately set about to put it into practice in their own flying.

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Clearly, a more organized approach to cross country and racing would be beneficial to many. In fact, something along these lines was pioneered by Justin Wills over the past eight years with the British Juniors. Under Justin’s tutelage, this group has begun to turn in amazing performances in world competition. If we could only replicate that experience in this country, not only with the Juniors but with all our pilots . . . . .

Several initial steps in this direction have been taken, such as Karl Striedieck’s reverse seeding Regional comps, with expert guest lectures. The leadership of the US Team Committee has also become active in this vein. Guided by Committee members Tim Welles and John Seaborn, and with that dynamo of enthusiasm Garrett Willat providing both fundraising and organization, the Juniors Camp at Moriarty proved to be an outstanding success, reported elsewhere.

See the 2004 Junior Camp by clicking here...

  “Having attended a significant number of soaring related seminars, conventions, CFI-G revalidation clinics, and contests over the past twenty years, I can truly say that this one was the best” John Dezzutti  


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To target a broader base of pilots, a two week course was organized in conjunction with the Region 1 competition at lovely Sugarbush Airport in northern Vermont, labeled the Sugarbush Cross-Country Racing Experience, somewhat awkwardly. Located in the heart of the beautiful Green Mountains, the ‘bush offers breathtaking views of forest and valley, ski areas, Lake Champlain, even the home of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! We are much indebted to the Sugarbush Soaring Society for its strong support of this somewhat experimental venture, particularly the enthusiastic support of president Dave Ellis.

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The course consisted of two phases – a cross-country refresher for the first week, and an introduction to racing during the second week amidst the Region 1 contest proper. The daily schedule began with one to two hour lectures in the morning on a progression of topics starting with the basics and ending with sophisticated contest strategy. After a weather briefing and task discussion, we all went out to fly, chattering constantly on 123.3 about weather, lift conditions, routing, etc. (during the contest proper we all flew in Sports Class, under a waiver from the Rules Committee Chairman to allow the instructional value of exchanging information – and had most of the contest participants listening in on our frequency!). At the end of the day we’d enjoy a cool one while communally reviewing GPS traces projected on screen, utilizing the excellent SeeYou software, while each pilot described his flight in some detail, discussing what went right and wrong, particularly the wrong part. Confession is always good for the soul, even better for avoiding reoccurrence.


  "The meta lesson I learned is that soaring is a coachable sport. This had simply never occurred to me, as I had never been coached in soaring.” Ed Crawley – Daily Winner  


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Leading the charge was a bevy of instructors, including former World Champions George Moffat and Doug Jacobs. However the star of the course was clearly Gerrard “G” Dale.


About Auther Doug Jacobs

Few pilots have had the racing success of Doug Jacobs. He has won the US National Championships eight times including the prestigious
Hatcher “Top Gun” Trophy in 1994, 1995 and 2003. Internationally Doug became World Champion in the 15-Meter Class and was awarded the Unberto Nannini trophy at the 1985 World Gliding Championships in Reiti, Italy. Since his win in 1985 Doug has represented the United States in seven World Gliding Championships finishing as the 15-Meter Bronze Medallist in both the 1987 and 1991 Championships. Beyond US National and World Gliding Championship success, Doug has competed in the Hitachi Masters of Soaring three times winning the event in 1986. Doug also was a participant in the 1995 Takikawa Masters of Soaring in Japan and a Bronze Medallist in 1998 Samedan Jubilee Competition in Switzerland. Having soloed at age 27 in 1973 Doug flew his first Nationals at Elmira, New York in 1980 earning Diamond badge #478 along the way. He has approximately 3700 hours total soaring hours. A strong supporter of the sport Doug is Treasurer and Director-at-Large of the Soaring Society of America, a Lincoln Award winning contributor to Soaring Magazine and member of Sugarbush Soaring (Vermont), MIT Soaring Association (Massachusetts), and Greater Boston Soaring Club (Massachusetts). Doug was elected to the US Soaring Hall of Fame in 1990. As his biggest fans Doug lists his wife Martha and daughters Charlotte and Molly. 


G has been active as a British National Team Coach, a gliding instructor at Lasham, a course leader for Gavin Wills’ Mountain Experience in Omarama, New Zealand, and is an actively competing top-ten British national pilot. G’s morning presentations, delivered in that organized and precise way that we Americans so envy the Brits for, were succinct, informative, and comprehensive. Schooled in a variety of teaching techniques including both dual and lead and follow, G was also our leader in the air, coolly deliving flying tips, weather and course analysis while managing to win the Sports Class quite handily. Language was a bit of a problem however – when G directed us to twit something, one wag questioned whether this activity took place while vertical or horizontal – in fact he was asking us to think something over (I think).

We attracted 12 brave souls as flying participants (we required a previously accomplished Silver Distance or better) as well as five or six “auditors” who followed the ground portions and flight debriefs but flew on their own. We were delighted to attract two juniors as well – Kevin Christner and Vit Hradecky for whom tuition was waived. Everyone brought his own glider but we were extremely fortunate to have available a Duo Discus (a real rock star Photo #6003 | vt 4of a ship, the one starring in Juan Mandelbaum’s outstanding video A Fine Week of Soaring), enabling everyone to have the opportunity to observe at close range a real racing mission. This later generation of two place gliders, which include the Duo, DG 500/1000 series and others, provide outstanding platforms for this type of instruction; comfortable, remarkably good handling for 20+ meter ships, and performance that keeps them up any of the latest Standard or 15 Meter gliders.

The weather gods were good to us as well. We managed to fly most days in a broad variety of thermal, ridge and wave lift, and were able to knock off courses up to and including 200 milers. Safety was a particular focus; the few initial landouts that several participants had were handled excellently, and no participant suffered any ship damage.

The camaraderie that developed between participants was terrific. Almost no one had a crew – we helped each other rig and derig - and several participants joined that blessed group among us who cheerfully volunteer to go on retrieves when they don’t have to. Most nights we met at one of the Mad River Valley’s excellent restaurants (OK, our favorite was the pizza joint with the cold beer) for friendly debriefing and lie swapping, and got to know one another as good friends. Feedback from participants was enthusiastic.

Photo #6004 | vt 11To assist in review during those long cold winter nights, as well as for potential future use, the assembled course materials were made available to all on a CD into which we also crammed as many of the collected photos of the course and contest we could muster. What comes next? Still in the discussion phase, but the US Team Committee is mulling over the prospects for future Juniors camps as well as Cross Country and Racing camps (particularly if we can attract G back to our shores), so watch this space for future announcements. Let us know if you have suggestions, let us know quickly if you’d like to help, call me personally right away if you have a two place glider or two we could build the next course around! I think we’re on to something here.

See U.S. Team Sponsored 04 Junior Development Camp - Click Here

Posted: 6/2/2010

US Team 

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