Slope Racing 101.

Instructor: Prof. Rex Tangle.


In this short class we will learn the basics of slope racing and race strategy. (Typed in green) Simple explanations of why we do things are in blue. Safety issues are in red.


The goal in slope racing is to win. To finish first, first you must finish.


Man on Man:

Man on man racing involves racing up to 4 models on the racecourse at the same time, in the same conditions.


The goal is to be the first pilot to finish all required laps.


The basic race structure:

The racecourse is set along the face of the slope perpendicular to the wind. The turn points are defined as base A and base B. Base A is where the pilots will stand. The racecourse should be at least 80meters long for the smaller span classes and up to 200meter length for the unlimited class. Any distance will work depending on the shape of your slope. Take into consideration that faster models need more distance between the bases and smaller models get boring on too long a course. The length of the heat race is usually 8 complete laps.

The pilots are separated into smaller groups called Heat races. These heat races are needed because we simply do not have room to race everyone at the same time. Pilots race in multiple heat races and get scored according to their final placing in that heat race. The pilot’s scores from each of these races are added together. If there is a tie in the final score then we arrange a fly off. Usually we only fly off for the top 5 places to determine the overall winners.

Depending on weather conditions, available frequencies and the number of pilots entered a pilot may not fly directly against every other pilot entered in the event. Heat races could have different number of pilots in them due to frequency conflicts or other reasons. The heat races need to be scored exactly the same so every pilot is fairly scored not only against the pilots in his heat but in the entire contest because all scores are used to decide the outcome.


Scores are as follows:

1 point for 1st position.

2 points for 2nd position.

3 points for 3rd position.

4 points for 4th position.

5 points for DNF (Did Not Finish)

6 points for DNS (Did Not Start).


The winner is the pilot with the least amount of points.


The points for 1 thru 4 are simple to understand. Let me explain why the DNF and DNS are the way they are.


DNF is when a pilot’s model does not finish the required race distance for whatever reason. If he crashed or had mechanical problems it doesn’t matter. He did not finish the race and is scored a 5. If a pilot cuts 2 turns (explained later) he did not finish so he also gets 5 points. If the pilots cannot safely control his model and is asked to land by the CD he is scored a 5 as he had not completed the required number of laps.


DNS is when a pilot does not launch when required to start his heat race. This rule is designed primarily to keep the contest moving. Without this rule the contests will be delayed by waiting for a few pilots that are never ready and the amount of heat races flown will be less. Less heat races = less fun for everyone else. A DNS is also used to score a pilot that has dropped out of competition. Every pilot in the matrix needs a score of some kind. A pilot is scored a DNS for every heat race he fails to start.


As you can see the goal is to earn as few points as possible. So to win you need to have your equipment ready to race on time and to avoid anything that will earn you a DNS. You need to fly in such a way to be competitive yet fly smart enough to avoid a mid air collision, crashing during a race or cutting any turn or anything that will earn a DNF score.


Race procedures:

1.      All pilots and callers in the heat race will be in the ready area with their models. The CD before the event designates the ready area.


2.      Each model is ID’ed (identified) to the base B turn callers.


3.      The CD will give the signal to launch. The CD prior to the start of the contest will designate the launch area. At this point a DNS is earned if a pilot is not ready. The command to launch also signals that the course is clear and safe to start the race. I.e. no persons are in harms way of any model on or near the designated racecourse.


4.      When all models are in the air the CD will start the countdown time to start. The countdown can be 30 or 60 seconds long and should be recorded so the playback is automatic and the same for every race. At this point the heat race is officially in progress so any pilot that does not finish the required laps is scored a DNF. Why? The countdown is part of the race, model placement before the countdown reaches zero is important for a good fast start and at this point the results of the heat race are up to each pilot. No re-launches are permitted once the countdown has started. Why? You are in danger if you leave the pilots area and physically enter the course during a race. If someone enters the racecourse then the race must be aborted and re started. If you or your helper causes the restart then you will earn a DNS for delaying the race because you will not be allowed to restart. Don’t crash before the start. Don’t crash ever!


5.      A proper start is when a model is outside of base A and flying toward base B When the countdown reaches zero or start all models are allowed to enter the course. If you “Jump the Start” (cross base A heading to base B before the countdown reaches zero or start) then you must exit the course and re enter the course from outside base A flying toward base B. If you are late on the start you must go outside of base A and enter the course by flying towards base B. In other words, before your laps start to count your model must be outside base A and flying to base B for a start before the countdown reaches Zero. If you are late you cannot start in the middle of the course to “catch up” you must follow the starting procedures and be outside base A then enter the course.


6.      When your model breaks the invisible plane of base B the base B turn judge will signal that that model has gone far enough and you can turn back to base A. A model that has changed direction by 91 degrees near the turn is considered to have completed the turn. If this turn is before the invisible plane of base B then that pilot’s model has “Cut” the turn and is required to fly an extra lap. If the pilot cuts 2 turns then that pilot earns a DNF and is required to pull off the racing line and out of the way of the other competitors in that heat race. Don’t cut!! No, you cannot go around and get the turn. Why? Because you could cause a mid air collision by an unexpected flight path across the other competitors racing line. If YOU screw up don’t take the rest of the filed out with you. If you do you will be quietly killed and buried where no one will ever find your body.


7.      After the required laps are completed the heat race is considered finished and the models will land as soon as possible so the next heat race can start.


Some tips:


Flying smart:

A smart pilot knows that to finish first, first he must finish. He also knows what racing line to take to avoid contact with another pilot’s model and how to make a safe pass for position. He also knows how to fly a defensive line while in the lead to protect his position and finish the race safely.


Race Etiquette:

Everyone is entitled to have a competitive heat race but if you blew the start or are off the pace because of poor ballast choice or have a cut PLEASE give room for others flying for position. In this racing series if your ¾ of a lap behind you probably are not in position to make that up and are now “in the way” Do the right thing and fly a higher line and give the leaders room “on the racing line”. What makes this man on man competition fun is the close head to head racing and what makes headlines are the mid airs. Keep it fun and racing will be here to stay.


Model Position: How to pass.

Let’s think this through, if you are directly behind another model you can not know what the gap is between your models because you are looking directly at the tail and have little or no depth perception and if you are quicker you will run right up the back of him. If you are on the outside (away from the slope) of the other model going into the turn and you are close behind him you will probably hit him square on at the far turn. Why? Because effectively you just cut across his path because our models require about the same turn radius and when he makes his turn it will be right in your way, read that again He will be right in YOUR way but its’ YOUR fault! He is in front and it’s your job to pass him cleanly. How? The smart play is to steer slope side and fly a higher or lower line and make a safe turn at the far end, same thing applies on the near turn, DO NOT put yourself in position for a mid air! Lots of pilots fly with tunnel vision. That is they never look where the model will be 2 seconds from now and are always surprised when they hit someone (you know who you are!) look ahead, make sure your line is clear or will be clear when you get there. Remember to finish first, first you must finish.


Protecting your lead:

OK first off this isn’t NASCAR! When you are in the lead the best way to stay there is to fly the fastest line. That sounds easy enough. Fly the fast line and make the guy behind fly around you. Stay in the best part of the turn, run the best upwind leg. Keep your model slope side so he has to adjust his altitude at the turns. Don’t bump and grind but if you’re in the fastest part of the sky that leaves little room for him to overtake you and by all means do not CUT. There is almost nothing worse than cutting away a win. Take pride in a clean win and be ashamed if you crashed someone for a victory.


More to come…………