Before we set our eyes on the 2024 season, it is time to look back and announce the winners of our global Distance and Sprint Ranking! Who was the fastest? Who has gone the furthest?
The beauty of these rankings is that every glider pilot worldwide is entitled to participate and will be ranked. Over 11,000 users have posted more than 95,000 flights in total, covering a distance of 28 million kilometers or 700 times around the world. Pictures were uploaded to more than 28 thousand flights. How amazing!
That means plenty of flights to score, but how do we determine our champions? For the Free Distance ranking, each pilot’s furthest five flights count towards their points total. For the Sprint Ranking, the WeGlide algorithm determines the two fastest hours in your flight. Your three best two-hours sprints will crown the fastest glider pilot of the season.
This year, there is something extra special: Both the winner from the Free Distance and the winner of the Sprint Ranking are from the same airfield. For those who are avid followers of our social media outlets, these names shouldn’t come as a surprise. We will not keep you waiting any longer, here are the results:
Gordon has left us in awe with some of his flights this year. He has soared his Arcus J ‘DT’ through dusk and dawn from his home field, Minden-Tahoe in Nevada, United States. With an incredible 9,169.69 points, he left a margin of more than 2100 points over second-place Juan Pablo Verdura, winner of the Sprint in 2022, and third-place Tobias Welsch, who won the Free Distance Ranking in 2021. You can find the full ranking here. We asked Gordon how he felt about winning this year: "It’s pretty awesome. The competition among all the pilots around the world is pretty humbling to me. I do feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to join those out there in flying as far and fast as possible. The ranking, I must point out obviously does not mean I’m the best pilot by any means. What it does mean is that I’m incredibly lucky to live in an area that offers superb conditions and that I have a wonderful machine to do these flights in!"
Gordon's eye-catching flight surely is this flight from the 19th of June. He managed to fly 3,058 km in more than 17 hours, an incredible feat! If you haven’t heard of this flight yet, make sure to read the article that we wrote about it.
Jim Lee is crowned the fastest glider pilot of the season! Three flights with Sprint speeds of 214.6, 245.9, and 227.5 km/h have earned him 638.78 points. With that, he has left second-place Gordon Boettger and third-place Juan Pablo Verdura in his tracks. Jim can be found flying from Minden-Tahoe flying his JS1-C, but his best-scoring sprint flight was flown in the Phoenix, a two-seat motor glider with an index of 88! We congratulate Jim on his achievement and hope he will return for more next season.
Minden-Tahoe, a soaring paradise?
Minden-Tahoe Airport is a general aviation airport in the Carson Valley in Nevada, United States. Over the years, it has been the starting point of many incredible flights. From the airport, pilots can make return flights to the White Mountains, Owens Valley, and Eastern Nevada. During winter months the famous Sierra mountain wave can carry gliders well over 25,000 ft (7,600 m), with the Minden record well over 40,000 ft (12,000 m).
The Sierra wave can stretch the whole of the state, so it is the perfect opportunity to make both speed and distance. Gordon Boettger agrees: "I do think Minden is located in a very good area for both thermals and especially wave. Combine that with some hungry pilots that want to go fast and far, and I think Minden is very difficult to beat. Other places, of course are very well suited for going fast and far, but you have to have the pilots there that can “put the points on the board.” Minden is a magical place, the beauty of the sky with the clouds and mountains below is what sticks in my mind. Sharing some of these flights with different people who have never seen these distances or what is possible and seeing their smiles after they land is unforgettable. I hope that some of these flights will attract people from all over the world to come out and give it a go.
A new season
We would like to thank everyone who participated in this year's ranking. We hope you will be back for more next year and that you will surprise us with your flights. If you want to see your national ranking or filter these ranks per class, make sure to visit our ranking page.
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