Many thanks to Greg Lewis for agreeing to provide the content of this page.
As Greg says, F5B is the F1 of model gliding. And the direction to go in if you combine an interest in thermal soaring with a need for speed.
Greg Lewis is a current and past member of the British F5B team, current GB League Champion and past winner of both British and French championships. He has also represented GB in F3F slope racing, in which he holds major course records. He is a member of the SFTC and Chair of BARCS.
Considered to be the F1 of model gliding. F5B combines three disciplines in one flight. Part 1 is flown using a 150 metre out and back course. Pilots can deploy the motor 10 times outside the course within the 200 seconds of this part of the flight to achieve as many laps as possible. At the end of the 200 seconds pilots climb for height for part 2 which is to try to fly for exactly 10 minutes with a point being deducted for each second over or under the 10 minutes. Part 3 is a landing exactly at 10 minutes. Pilots must aim to land as close to the centre of a landing area to achieve maximum landing points.
All of this must be done whilst keeping inside a maximum energy level monitored via a sensor. Why is it like F1? To be competitive in this class a plane must be capable of accelerating from 0 to 200mph in less than 2 seconds. Turn quickly without losing speed and then turn into a glider that can thermal as well as any purpose made thermal soarer.
Getting started requires any electric powered glider capable of flying a reasonable speed and then be able thermal soar to some degree. F5B in the UK has a tiered league system allowing pilots to progress through the levels as their confidence grow.