The Club Ladder
The trick in gliding cross country is to catch the thermal bubble!
The Club Ladder is an informal competiton run at UK gliding clubs, and the results from individual clubs are then submitted to a National Ladder. Some clubs run small variations on the National Ladder to suit their local set-up. It provides a fun competition for club members, can get very competative, and is highly recommended. At one point the Bicester Ladder had several ex-UK National champions competing so strongly that with one month to go and dud weather forcast for the next four weekends, some competitors calculated the minimum distance they needed to fly to improve their overall postion and took their gliders out on the airfield every day in the hope of catching a short break in the weather that their superior skills could exploit. The winner that year completed a very short flight of about 56 km, almost the minimum accepted for the Ladder, in poor soaring conditions, to grab first place by 10 points with a total score of over 4500. One year we had the Junior National champion fighting off all-comers and a few years later a pilot who had just come second in the Junior Worlds doing the same, and both were getting quite worried that they might drop to second place if they missed a good opportunity on a day that their rivals flew.
Basically pilots submit cross country flights or height gains of over 5000' and get scored by a formula which uses distance, handicap, speed and the nature of the flight to produce a score. The best four flights are then used to calculate their overall scores. The Open Ladder is restricted to a maximum of two height claims, and the Weekend Ladder can have no more than two height claims or two midweek claims or one height and one midweek claim. The Junior Ladder runs like the Open, with the restriction that they pilots must be under 25 when the Ladder starts.
A variation we run at Bicester is a Non Pundits Ladder, for those who haven't yet completed a 500 km flight. This keeps the experts out. And for this Ladder we also accept the best six flights, and award 500 points for a first solo, 250 for completing the Bronze badge, and 250 for completing the Silver badge. Hence newcomers can do okay in this particular Ladder.
If your club doesn't run a Ladder, try to persuade them to do so, or just start it yourself. It's great fun.
To learn more, read the Definitive Ladder Rules
And remember, it always pays to catch the thermal bubble!
Members of Bicester Gliding Club who wish to enter flights in the Club Ladder should use the link below to go to the special entry form page. This entry form is for Club members only and for that reason is password protected - I don't want to accidentally be processing flights for members of other Clubs, as I'm sure you'll understand.
Click here for the Ladder entry form