Traditionally in the UK, competition tasks have been set around either fixed courses or areas (AATs). In single class competition this has worked fine as the pilot's performance can be simply measured by time or speed around the course (or in the event of a land out, distance covered). This method however has serious limitations in handicapped competition. Whilst high handicap entries can complete a long task in a sensible time, low handicap gliders are faced with having to start earlier and / or finish later. This means that they have a much harder task, are forced to fly at sub optimal times, and are more likely to land out.
To overcome this, competition directors are forced to consider the time needed for the lowest handicap entries to complete and set, therefore, smaller tasks. In this case the high handicap gliders complete very quickly and devalue the day. This situation was frustrating for directors and pilots alike.
Furthermore, our present scoring system is hideously complicated and, whilst reasonably fair, it is hard to understand and can take even experienced scorers a very long time to produce a result. One way to overcome this is to fly Grand Prix style tasks where the first pilot home, or the pilot with the quickest time, is the winner. Of course this only works for single class competition.
Handicap tasks are an attempt to solve this problem. By setting tasks of variable length dependent upon the glider's handicap, the winner is simply the pilot who completes his task in the shortest elapsed time. Racing is much closer and fairer. Pilots and other interested parties can immediately see who has performed well.
In the 2012 season Windrushers Gliding Club experimented with this type of task and during the following winter Tim Scott developed some software for simplifying the calculation of the tasks. During the 2013 season this idea was discussed at National competitions and Booker Gliding Club flew a competition week using the software. Following the success of that competition several interested parties got together to build upon Tim's work and produce software that would make setting and scoring these tasks easy so that more clubs would try them.
The format has now been adopted in rated UK competition since 2014 and has been extensively used. In 2015 the programs were adapted to be US 'friendly' allowing calculation using US style handicaps and Statute Miles. In 2016 enhancements were made to enhance compatibility with See You Competition V8. We hope that the format will become adopted worldwide.