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Sep 24, 2013, 12:42 PM
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Philip Kolb's Avatar
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GPS-Triangle WM Tortosa / Spain

After a long season of flying it was finally "on"!
The second GPS-Triangle World-masters was held in Tortosa / Spain last week.
Although this very advanced class of model soaring is very exciting, challenging and thrilling competitions are still small compared to the big F3J and F3B events held in Europe.
I guess glider-enthusiasts and competitors still need to spend some time figuring out the beauty of this specific format, but I am convinced that we'll see larger competition soon.
For those of you who hear about GPS-Triangle racing the first time, please follow my write-up from my first ever GPS-competition from two years ago:
There'll be lots of information on the topic.

So almost two weeks back I was heading out to Spain meeting with 23 other pilots from all over the world to find out who'll be the 2nd Worldchampion. Unfortunately my teammates Murat, Reinhard, Mustafa and Larry couldn't join this time, so I found myself being lucky finding a very good navigator in Urs Affolter from Germany. Not that we were only laughing about the same jokes, We were even speaking the same language!
Even more lucky I felt to be able to fly Larry's "orangine racemachine", a 1:3 scale Antares 20E from Jiri Baudis. As my own plane is still not ready and waiting for a fuselage I was very happy being able to fly "Charly-Alpha"!
Thank you Larry!!!

The competiton itself took place in the Ebre-river delta about 100 miles south of Barcelona, an agricultural area of thousands of Olive- and Tangerinetrees. In midst of these obstacles Ueli Nyffenegger found an old Landingstrip for microlight aircrafts which is used as a "Modelflying Ranch" nowadays.
Nice hangars, 220V for charging, a tar strip to tow off from and a small grass strip for the gliders as well as enough place for campers, tents and even an inflatable pool!
All was arranged in a very cosy and familiar atmosphere!
People were super-friendly and helpful whenever someone needed a hand, the food is extremely delicious and the weather showed itself from its best side. Temperatures around 26 degrees C, sunny skies and some fresh winds during the days made it comfortable for everyone.
For flying the weather wasn't always easy though. Because of the nearby mountains (some of the them about 5000ft high) there was some strange wave build up visible especially during the mornings when the air was still very stable.
The diurnal flows in the mountain ranges even affected the weather on the competition site. So there were some strange wind shifts perceptible during the day, some very dry zones with almost no Cu's building up especially above the flying site made air-reading difficult.

The 24 competitors which competed in two Classes ("1:3 Scale" and "Up&Go") came from Canada, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Czech Republic, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.
Almost everyone was using the opportunity to practice on site a few days in advance. Two days before the World-masters an open international CONTEST Eurotour event was held offering even some more opportunity for practise and last fine tuning of the equipment. I was very pleased to be able to use the time flying and practising with my new teammate Urs. As we were both very excited about the days to come we appreciated every minute of extra flighttime!
Unfortunately the team from South Africa, Chris Adrian and Johan Bruwer were grounded for these days waiting for their plane boxes to arrive. They took it in a very relaxed and sporty manner, driving back and forth to Barcelona-Airport to get the latest news and data about their valuable freight.
Chris even finished a new plane for the competition and was very anxious to fly it against international competition in the "Up&Go" class.
As he knows the Jonker brothers from "Jonker sailplanes" personally he got a hold of original plans of the 21m high performance "JS-1C" sailplane.
He built CNC-plugs and moulds and finally his own 1:2,5 Scale JS-1C in "all-carbon" build up. A great effort and a beautiful ship!

I'll write on about the competition in the next days. For all of you curios about it, please find more info and details on following sites:
Last edited by Philip Kolb; Sep 26, 2013 at 08:51 AM.
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Sep 24, 2013, 08:10 PM
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Thanks Phillip,
This has to be the most fun you can have with RC gliders.
I have the desire but not the knowledge to run such an event.
I'll be looking for advice.

Regards Dean
Last edited by DEAN GRADWELL; Sep 27, 2013 at 02:28 PM.
Sep 26, 2013, 09:53 AM
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Philip Kolb's Avatar
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Part 2

On Saturday and Sunday, 14th and 15th of September the Pre-contest took place and gave us some time to get used to the contest area, the weather and for teaming up a little.
In GPS-Triangle flying the thing you're concentrating on the most is to cover good distance and fly around the triangular course as often as possible within a 30 minutes working time.
The course is about 2.4km long and only full laps will count and score 200 points each!
A landing on the nearby landing strip will give you an extra 300 points, so you better decide soon enough if you wanna go out and try for another (maybe risky) triangle or a safe landing! This is a very good rule as I would say because these heavy and expensive ships shouldn't been flown at risk in low altitudes.
In case of a tie (same amount of triangles flown by two or more pilots) the pilot with the fastest average speed will win.
In the flat morning air, the target nowadays is to try for 4 triangles at about 60 - 65km/h average speed...this is supposed to give you a good score.
To drive up the speed, you choose to ballast your plane and fly it as accurately around the course. As long as you don't need to thermal up in very light air this is the best tactics for the morning rounds.
It just get's difficult as soon as suitable thermals are starting to build up. Then the gamble is on!
How heavy or light shall I try to fly?
How fast should I go?
Should I try one or the other turn for gaining altitude and thereby maybe one more triangle?
Should I detour from the optimal path in favour of finding some lift?
Lot's of decisions to make which makes tactics a blast on this competition format!
As we were out to compete the first time at the Pre-Contest on Saturday morning, Urs and me were discussing about the tactics. Obviously the air wasn't totally flat anymore and you could feel some light feeders blowing over the field. There could be some thermal build up already, the question was, if these thermals were already strong enough for these big heavy ships?
So I decided to skip the "Fast-Four-Lap-tactics" and was flying a little lighter than optimal.
As I finished 4 slow triangles I still had about 75m of altitude left and took the gamble.
There was some weak lift over the fields as the vario was starting to beep in a higher tone. Even some swallows were signalling the good air, so I stood. Tiptoeing in flat wide circles, gaining 5 meters now and then. It took 8 endless minutes until the patience paid off and the bubble of hot air was finally rising. It took us up to 250m again and gave us room to fly 2 more triangles!!!
We managed to get around the course 6 times where all the others landed after 4 triangles completed.
Of course you always need a smidge of luck to achieve such flights, but it can put such big smiles on your faces once you can use it.
In another flight of the Pre-Contest all that didn't work at all and I tried to find lift all around the course, circling far too much in nothing, that didn't even develop.
I was back on the ground after 2 triangles completed finding out, that 3 triangles, flown fast were the winning solution.
That's what makes GPS-triangle flying so interesting!
Acting and reacting to the conditions with a wide variety of possible solutions!
The Pre-Contest showed as well who was in as a kind of favourite for the Worldchamps title.
There is Marco Mani from Switzerland who is possibly one of the most experienced GPS-Pilots out there, doing this sports for a hell of a while now and who is probably one of the most precisely flying thermal-pilots I have ever seen. It's a joy to watch Marco how he is handling these planes with always the right amount of energy and how he is taking decisions on tactics, when to thermal, when to move on!
Radim Horky (the owner of "H-Model") from Czech Republic was winning the first GPS-Worldmasters 2 years ago and is out to defend his title. He especially knows how to fly fast. When the air is flat or there's lots of sink on the course, Radim is awfully hard to beat!
Ueli Nyffenegger from Switzerland knows his Arcus inside out and has obviously the most joy in going out to compete against all others. With this mind setup and his huge experience he was definitely in the winners circle this time.
Tjakko Weber from the Netherlands, a 747-pilot is obviously very good on the is John Greenfield from the UK, who only competed in the "Up&Go"-class.
John is flying an 8.4m H-Model ASH-31 and watching him getting around the course makes it obvious that he his practising very hard. Every turn on the triangle looks like "copy-pasted" from the other. He was very often winning his groups by using the old "Schreder-tactics": "Get high and stay high!"
Unfortunately the planes from team South Africa were still on their travel, somewhere between Johannesburg and Barcelona. Chris an Johan sadly couldn't use the Pre-Competition as another practise session like all the others...and they couldn't show their talents yet either.

More on the topic hopefully soon
Sep 26, 2013, 10:30 AM
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Larry Jolly's Avatar
Nice write up keep it coming.........
Sep 26, 2013, 07:18 PM
More gadgets please.
pete914's Avatar
Thanks for the detailed write up. Subscribed.
GPS triangle racing needs to be a regular summer event in the states. Is it?
Could you post up some of the info on radio gear that's being used (both tx and GPS). I see you swapped out your standard whip antenna...
Sep 27, 2013, 04:47 AM
Hi Philip,

Keep on writing , it reads like an exciting book!

regards Tjakko.
Sep 27, 2013, 12:41 PM
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Philip Kolb's Avatar
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Some technical talk

Hi Pete, hello to all the others!
As I understood, there might be quite some interest in the technical equipment used in GPS-triangle flying.
What you actually need is some device, where you can watch and record your actual flights.
As the triangle itself is defined by GPS coordinates and thereby exactly the same for every competitor, one can upload this data to his device right before the competition. Normally the contest direction has an SD-card with the necessary data.
As far as I saw it, there are three different systems in use right now, and all of them work quite well. Basically there are two different ways to transmit the necessary data between the plane and whatever ground station is used.
The "traditional" way is to use a different frequency band, f.e. the 433MHz band to transmit the GPS-data, altitude and time (everything essentially needed for the competition so to say) to the ground and log it.
The original "Skynavigator" (that's the instruments and software which started the GPS-triangle trend) was using the 433MHz band.
You need to have a GPS-module and the transmitter on board of your plane, whilst you (or your navigator) is holding the according receiver coupled to a screen in hands.
On the screen you can watch the triangle and the planes position as well as other necessary information, like altitude, climb, time remaining etc.
These "screens" are mostly Windows IPAQs and meanwhile it's a little challenging to get them, as they become outdated. But they were the only gadgets being able to run the necessary "Skynavigator-Software" on them.
This system works fine and was the only system up to two years ago!
You can find all necessary information about the hard- and especially the software on Christoph Maechlers website:
Christoph is the inventor of Skynaviagtor and the father of this class. He is very keen on developing everything concerning GPS-flying further.
The second solution to transmit your data is not to use a separate frequency-band but your backchannel of your 2.4GHz system.
With this method, all your data is transmitted back to your transmitter module. From there you can transfer it f.e. via Bluetooth onto the screen you are using.
If you are running the skynavigator-software on an IPAQ with a Bluetooth interface, all you need to do is to pair your transmitter with this IPAQ and you are ready to fly GPS-triangle races!
Weatronic is supporting Skynavigator and GPS-triangle racing, so if you are flying with a Weatronic 2.4GHz system, you should use the DV4BTA-module with the Bluetooth chip inside on your transmitter.
In your plane you can couple the total-energy-system variometer (TEK-Link Vario DUO) to the GPS-module and you'll even get a good vario system additionally.
For more information try and visit the Weatronic-webpage:
Weatronic, Christoph Maechler and Nermi Karacabeyli are meanwhile working hard on an other way of visualizing the flightpath. As I said, the IPAQs are almost outdated and Tablets are way faster, easier to handle and much better to read upon, the aim was to visualize the flights using an IPad!
Nermi is an expert on Apple-programming and therefore he was writing a brandnew application: The "Skynavigator for IPad-App".
Together with Christophs help we could finish the Beta-Version right on time before I left for Spain.
I was using this Application (although it is still in the BETA-phase) on all my flights and am very pleased with the way it displays the flights.
I guess a lot of other pilots would agree, that Nermis, Christophs and Weatronics efforts are a huge contribution for GPS-triangle racing!
There is still some work to do, especially after field testing the IPad-application now, but we all hope that the App will be ready for download from the I-Tunes store as soon as the new Weatronic "BAT-60" transmitter is available!
Another really great system is the RC T3000 from RC-electronics.
I was using this system as a secondary system as the IPad-App was still in its Test-phase.
Andrej Vrecer from Slovenia is the man behind this system and I need to say, that it appears to be a rocksolid solution for triangle-flying.
I originally got it to avoid running into possible lockouts, but need to admit now, that I really will use two systems from now on!
The RC T3000 operates on the 433MHz band as well and is thereby an autonomous system. If something might go wrong with the back channel you will be happy to have such a system on board. As we are having two receiver batteries in our planes, it occurs healthy to me to run redundant systems on the navigation part as well. If one fails, you'll still get your flight score - and for a competitor this means everything! Especially when you travelled 2000miles to a competition!
Back to the RC T3000:
It is an autonomous system, running the same algorithmic routines as the Skynavigator software. Thereby it can be used trouble free on every GPS-triangle competition. It has an inbuilt logger as well, so even in the case of a telemetric data loss, the data is still available after landing. Aditionally it offers an very good total-energy-variometer system.
An absolute "All in one solution"! Thank you Andrej for providing this technology and equipment to us. I'd recommend this system for everyone, who's not a Weatronic-user and wants to start GPS-flying.
You can find all info on the RC T-3000 on following webpage:

It needs a little time to get used to either of these systems, but I'd say that's more because of the complexity of GPS-flying and all the technology involved than because of these systems being complex!

In Spain I have seen another system build by Tjakko himself. He utilizes the 866MHz band for transmission. I am just not totally sure if Tjakko is offering these systems commercially, but maybe he'll take the time and write an answer to this topics.

I am very happy about your feedback and that you like reading my reports. I'll try and report more about the days in Spain as soon as possible.

Last edited by Philip Kolb; Sep 27, 2013 at 01:02 PM.
Sep 27, 2013, 02:51 PM
Registered User
Phillip this is really good.
Up and Go any scale?
Regards Dean
Sep 27, 2013, 04:43 PM
Registered User
Hi. Tortosa belongs to Catalonia not to Spain. Make no mistake Catalonia is not Spain!
Have a nice flights!!! Best regards!!!
Sep 29, 2013, 03:43 AM
I made the 868 MHz system after experimenting with 433 MHz and also a standalone 2.4GHz, it runs on Skynavigator software. The next step was to include a TEK , but when the T3000 came on the market I decided not to put more effort in my own system. The T3000 works great and Andrej Vrecer ( is very cooperative in updating and supporting! Also the T3000 screan is much better readable in sunlight than most PDA's. For next year I will try to compete (together with my navigator/ pilot Joost de Hond) at some Euro Contest competions to improve our skills. Do not forget to attend next year GPS Challenge in Tortosa Catalonia (Spain). Best regards Tjakkko.
Sep 29, 2013, 09:58 AM
Registered User

Speed round

I uploaded a movie with a GPS Triangle Speed round at Tortosa WM 2013 on youtube. This movie is shot with a GoPro hero 2 from inside the cockpit of a HMODEL Arcus 1:3.

A speedround is a part of the GPS Triangle WM, let me explain to you what the objective is... A speedround is a 500 meter triangle flown as fast as possible. You are allowed to start at a max altitude of 500 meters and a max speed op 120 km/h. After starting the triangle there are no speed limits, resulting in extreme low and fast passes at the end of the triangle. In this video our final speed (and maximum speed) was 231 km/h!

Furthermore there are prescribed maximum wing loadings for every type of glider. Of course everybody will fill up there models with water/ballast for the best performance. So the trick of the speedround is to start as high and fast as possible, then fly the triangle as precise as possible to get the shortest distance (think about GPS delay, turning radius, etc.). It is fun to see the teamwork that is needed for this part of the race.

Well, enjoy the video:
GPS Triangle speed round Roquetes Tortosa, Spain. HModel Arcus (3 min 36 sec)

Sep 29, 2013, 10:16 AM
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Tuomo's Avatar
This is wonderful! New tech has made true radio control distance flight possible

I would like to try GPS triangle with smaller planes, say 3.5-4m F3B(ish) plane, and electric start. And obviously with a smaller triangle course. Current gps planes are unfortunately out of my league (and too large to the fields I use).
Sep 29, 2013, 12:19 PM
Registered User

I have practiced GPS Triangle racing with a 4 meter Xplorer. Instead of 500 meter triangles I set it to 300 meters. I think a GPS triangle competition with F3J type gliders would be fantastic and would get many more people to participate. The RC Electronics components are small enough to fit in most gliders.

Sep 29, 2013, 10:03 PM
Registered User
Originally Posted by XC soaringpilot

I have practiced GPS Triangle racing with a 4 meter Xplorer. Instead of 500 meter triangles I set it to 300 meters. I think a GPS triangle competition with F3J type gliders would be fantastic and would get many more people to participate. The RC Electronics components are small enough to fit in most gliders.

I fully agree with this. While the large(r) scale gliders are beautiful machines, they are pretty big, complex and... pricy... All of this limit the development of this type of competitions, without getting in some safety/regulations issues that might arise further down the road.

A "standard" class based on the FAI max size/weight with a minimum fuselage cross section could be an excellent and exciting solution for a broader participant base. The minimum fuselage cross section not only would guaranty a more "scale" like look but would help for visualization at distance as well as limit the race to extreme designs like in F3X these days.

Sure with elaborate aerodynamic designs/manufacturing processes we would see a similar "armament" race as with the other racing categories. But, I feel, that prices and complexity should stay within a more accessible limit to a greater majority.

Nowadays with the progress of wing aerodynamic designs and composite structures design and manufacturing you could have a 4 to 5 meters span glider with a 5 kilos (~ 11 lb.) max mass and a scale like fuselage performing pretty well.
Sep 30, 2013, 05:14 AM
Registered User
This was my fast round, not the fastest of the pack, but you get an idea of it.

Arcus Speedround World Masters (2 min 17 sec)

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