Horsham Week was a full on competition right from the start in 1967. For the first competition the turnpoints were on an honour system but this was superseded by cameras the next year. Pilots used mainly “Instamatics”. Two cameras were mounted on the side of the cockpit canopy frame oriented so that the wing tip of the glider was in the shot. The pilot on reaching the nominated turn point would bank the glider over steeply and press the shutter release on both cameras. Two cameras were required, one acted as a backup as there were many failures. The pictures had to show you were in the correct sector behind the turnpoint not just that you had arrived there.
The introduction of cameras increased the workload of the competition organisers considerably. Films needed to be developed in batches and then verified leading to many discussions as to whether the pilot had successfully rounded the designated turnpoints. Many late nights were the norm for the verifiers and scorers. At its peak Horsham Week saw 70 gliders in it, more than the Nationals!
At this time the starting arrangements were formalised and after a few years of turmoil, an orderly procedure for queuing airborne gliders up to the start line was introduced. In those days the start line had to be crossed at less than 1000m or about 3200’. This led to gliders crossing the start line at red line speed in order to pull up and get more height to start looking for thermals. Woe betide any pilot who let his glider get anywhere near the start-line, unless actually starting. Offenders would be lucky not to be scratched out of the competition on the spot. The crew at the start line observed the passage of the glider over the start gate with a sophisticated mirror system and you either received a "Good Start” message on radio or “Negative high” or “Negative wide” radio message. The finish line also required a crew of observers.
In order to make it safer the requirement for being under 1000m crossing the start line was dropped creating more trouble! On a good day at Horsham, gliders would cross at 8000’ or higher creating a recognition problem for the start line crew and rumour has it that a jet travelling to Adelaide got a “Good Start” in one competition.
The introduction of cameras with clock time stamps in them got rid of the start line in favour of designated start points. This also reduced the congestion that occurred around a single start point.
Whilst the work of the start line went away, the films still had to be developed and verified each night until a revolution occurred.
GPS loggers arrived.
Cameras were very swiftly dropped. Then a sophisticated computer program called SeeYou arrived that took a lot of load off the scorer. This program also enabled the pilots to review theirs and other pilots flights on a computer. These were very quickly given the name “Maggot Races”.
The introduction of loggers and SeeYou enabled Area Assigned Tasks to be set and easily scored. This gave pilots more to think about and, reduced congestion that invariably occurred with speed tasks around a fixed course.
Today the scorer does not even need to be at the competition site and this year the 2013 Horsham Week scoring is being performed by Tim Shirley’s wife, Joy, at their Benalla home! Tim is flying in the competition and assists with any scoring problems. Pilots submit their logger data by email to the scorer. Times have really changed!
If the GPS had not arrived it is doubtful the pilots would have been able to take on the running of the competition.