2023 South African Nationals Open - Sports Classes

By Ricky Fouché

16 - 23 December 2023

Entrants and Competitors

Scene Set
The competition commenced with a practice day on Friday 15 December 2023. However, with very stormy weather being the flavour of the day, no flying was possible. The weather did, eventually, give us a break and the unboxing of a very special aircraft could be completed. This aircraft will also feature in various other parts of this report.

Jonker Sailplanes has recently introduced their latest addition to their already impressive lineup of competition aircraft. The JS5 prototype, with its 24.2 wingspan, which in my opinion, is a work of art and was unveiled at the Jonker Sailplane Factory based at the Potchefstroom airport. Attie Jonker was the first to fly it and I believe there is a whole video on this posted on YouTube.

This competition would be the debut for the JS5 in competition flying. The very experienced and very capable competitor Oscar Goudriaan would have the honour of flying it in this competition.

The 2023 competition was held at the Welkom airport in the Free State. Goldfields Gliding Club hosted the event and oh boy the way they hosted it was out of this world. So many people came together to make this event a huge success.

Many names but some need a special mention:

Keeping us well fed in the restaurant area were: Patricia Grabie, Ilse Holmes, Toekie Potgieter, Jolene De Villiers and Alta Potgieter.

Keeping the place nice and clean (And ensuring that I had a cup of coffee every morning) were: Unice and Allice. These two ladies slept in the gliding club and were on duty from early till late.

Kitplanes for Africa

Keeping everyone well hydrated behind the bar was: Willie van Zyl and sometimes assisted by Lehan Grabie. These two gents were also responsible for getting the Open Glider Network OGN receiver installed and operating. This was used for tracking the progress of all the gliders in the competition. The signal is used in various applications such as Glideandseek and Soarscore. It is an app like Flightradar24 only these prioritise gliders.

Tug Pilots:
Connie Conradie from Mafikeng was the chief tug pilot, flying ZS-KOT a 1980 Cessna 182Q Skylane II and Dieter Krug from Magaliesburg Gliding Club, Flying ZS-LLH a 1959 Cessna 182 Skylane. These two pilots took up a minimum of four gliders each per day for 6 days. When towing a glider, they make use of a 65-metre rope.

Standing by for any emergency:
The fire and rescue tender from HAZ QUIP were on standby for the launches every day. This vehicle was manned by different teams that included Hardus Du Raan, Rodger and Charmaine Coetzee, Bevin Witbooi and Lesia Lebatla.

The Latcher Lehan Grabie, The Runner Krappie Niemann and the Hooker Booitjie Motaung.

A total of seven tasks were planned for the seven competition days. All were flown bar task 4. The weather would not play along on Tuesday 19 December and thus the task was cancelled. Days were very challenging as the weather gods would add their bit of complication to the contest. Changing winds and cloud formations were constantly monitored by all the pilots but certainly most by Oscar. As Oscar was the task setter it was up to him to set out a course that could be flown by all… And completed by all.

Unfortunately, Andreas Spielmann had an out-landing on task 5 and that put paid to his competition. Fortunately, he did have a sustainer engine and could land back at Welkom airport. The rules are that, once you deploy your sustainer engine, it is considered an out landing and scoring stops at that point. Andreas decided to withdraw from the competition and did not fly again.

This is an example of a task as provided to the pilots. This information would be loaded in to their onboard navigation systems. Here Phillip Leach and Albert Willemse are busy loading the tasks in to their navigation systems. Different tasks were set for the two different classes. Sometimes Tasks were changed shortly before the launching began. These changes were as a result of changing weather conditions which kept Oscar on his toes.

Competition results:
During the morning pilots' briefings, prizes and trophies were handed over to the winners of the previous day's task:

Task 1 winner. Open Class was Dawid (Dolf) Pretorius with a time of 2:54:05, average speed of 114.81 km/h, a distance of 333. 12 km flown and receiving 734 points. Dolf, unfortunately, received a 5-minute penalty for not crossing the finish line within the boundaries of that line. The prize is handed over to Dolf by Johannes De Villiers, Chairman of The Soaring Society of South Africa SSSA. As the two Sports class competitors failed to reach a total of 100km flown they did not score any points and no winner was selected.

Task 2 Winner. Open class once again was Dolf Pretorius with a time of 2:31:51, average speed of 156.1 km/h, a distance of 395.07 km flown and receiving 782 points. Sports class winner was Phillip Leach with a time of 2:53:01, average speed of 100.94 km/h, a distance of 291.07 km flown and receiving 953 points.

Handing over the daily prizes was Dirk Smit, Chairman of the Goldfields Gliding Club.

Task 3 Winner. Open class was Oscar Goudriaan with a time of 2:32:31, average speed of 144.6 km/h, a distance of 367.57 km flown and receiving 768 points. Sports class winner was Albert Willemse with a time of 1:57:35, average speed of 97.3 km/h, a distance of 194.6 km flown and receiving 548 points.

Handing over the daily prizes was Ian Buchanan, Safety Officer for the competition.

Task 4 was cancelled due to unfavourable weather conditions. The gliders were towed out to the grid but were returned a few hours later.

Task 5 Winner. Open again saw Dolf Pretorius take the honours with a time of 3:09:54, average speed of 142.95 km/h, a distance of 452.43 km flown and receiving a full 1000 points. Sports class winner was again Phillip Leach with a time of 3:09:24, average speed of 92.49 km/h, a distance of 291.97 km flown and receiving 977 points.

Handing over the daily prizes was Patricia Grabie, Master of the restaurant and all-round good girl at Goldfields Gliding Club.

Task 6 Winner. Open class was Dolf Pretorius with a time of 3:09:33, average speed of 141.64 km/h, a distance of 447.46 km flown and receiving 1000 points again. Sports class winner was Albert Willemse again with a time of 3:15:19, average speed of 81.81 km/h, a distance of 266.3 km flown and receiving 874 points.

Handing over the daily prizes was Oscar Goudriaan, Contest Director and Task Setter.

Task 7 Winner. Open class was Mike Tiffin with a time of 1:57:37, average speed of 110.7 km/h, a distance of 221.39 km flown and receiving 398 points. Sports class winner was Phillip Leach 126.23 km flown and receiving 105 points.

Handing over the daily prizes was Johannes De Villiers, Chairman of the Soaring Society of South Africa

Final overall results were:

Open Class

Place Contest Number Name Points
1 W2 Dawid Pretorius 4599
2 5 Oscar Goudriaan 4356
3 RT Mike Tiffin 4032
4 N2 Peter Farrell 3655
5 BAT Benno Beesten 3261
6 3J Andreas Spielmann 1349

Sports Class

Place Contest Number Name Points
1 WL Phillip Leach 3425
2 JR Albert Willemse 3002

Various prizes and special awards were made at the awards function that took place in the Goldfields Gliding Club's Clubhouse. Unfortunately, I could not attend the function but Dirk Smit gave me access to the photos he took on the night.

Some awards were:
The Airmanship award went to a very deserving Phillip Leach.
Oscar presented the Klaas Goudriaan Memorial Award to the Goldfields Gliding Club.

Various fun awards were also presented to deserving recipients: Oscar received the "Nat Gat & Chief Bottlewasher Award" Booitjie Motaung received a special award for all the hard work he put in during the eight days. From washing gliders and cars to helping with the assembly and repairs on gliders… Booitjie did it all.Jolene De Villiers received the "Special Contribution Award". Jolene was also all over the show… From helping in the restaurant to keeping a tight reign on the finances. Hands on all over the place.

Jonker Sailplane JS5 prototype
The JS5 that Oscar flew is the prototype and was having it's debut at this year's National Open Championship.

As with most of the gliders in the competition the JS5 was moved out of the hangar in the mornings. It would be pushed out to the water hoses to have its wings filled.

As I understand it the JS5 has two water compartments in each wing. The inner tanks hold 90 litres and the outer tanks holds 30 litres each which totals around 240 litres total. The water serves as ballast and gives the aircraft more momentum. The water would be dumped if significant lift was experienced in thermals or just before landing as this would lessen the load on the wings.

As this aircraft is still the prototype and as with any new design there is bound to be some teething problems. At the end of Task 5 Oscar put the gear down and the cable, that retracts the tail wheel, snapped. In a flash the A-Team from Jonker Sailplanes drove through from Potchefstroom to come and lend a hand to get the aircraft ready for Task 6, Johan Bosman and Ockie van Eeden arrived at Welkom airport early on the Thursday morning and immediately started working on the problem. For the interim the tailwheel was converted to a fixed gear and the aircraft was ready for the day.

I found this aircraft to be a work of art and the following pics are ones that I took during the different days.

During an 8-day event one tends to take many pictures and this was certainly no exception. From launching gliders, fixing gliders, washing aircraft and shuffling gliders around and taking them to the Grid and retrieving them. Please enjoy the following images:

Finally, and certainly not the least important of all we thank the sponsors. The main event sponsor was JGL Forensic Services.

Additional sponsorship was from Carl Torlage from Pick n Pay Odendaalsrus.

Cliff Wilkinson was a private sponsor that saw to it that the grass was cut and the hangar and all other facilities were in tip top shape throughout the entire event. Such a great asset to the Goldfields Gliding Club. Pictured here with Willie van Zyl standing behind and Lehan Grabie seated next to Cliff.

The complete results can be found at

SA National Gliding Champs Welkom Dec 2023

Events 2023

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