The first time I picked up a quad line kite, I practically was forced to do it. I was really just getting the hang of two line sport kites and wan2012ted to concentrate on that. A friend and fellow kiter, Jason Benedict, had just gotten a Rev II and was really excited about it.
After some intense pressure, I gave in. The first time I was able to take it to the top of the wind window and speed straight down and then stop, without hitting the ground, I was hooked. Since then, most of my flying and competing has been done with four lines connected to my hunk of nylon and carbon graphite. Two weeks later I had my own and two months later I was competing.
The biggest advantage, and I feel the most fun, to a quadline kite is its ability to move in any direction, stop on a dime, and start again in any direction. This ability is the key to competing with a quadline kite.
Don’t get me wrong, dual line kites have their merits. But the quadline’s abilities make it a different animal altogether. And power quadline foils are not the same as a quadline ballet kite. I have seen some foils do some amazing ballet performances. Brian Vanderslice knocked my socks off more than once with a Quadrifoil. This is a rare and very talented performance. No foil can be as precise or radical as a stiff kite with a frame, although it may be as graceful.
The first step toward competing with one of these quadline kites is learning to fly it. I don’t mean being able to keep it off the ground and not crash and burn. I mean the ability to actually fly it and make it do what you want. This comes only with time and practice. The first time you try 90 degree turns without changing the kite’s position won’t be pretty. If you have a good friend who flies with you, a great practice method is to try to mirror what another flier is doing with his/her kite. Doing the same thing over and over can get boring, but precision in your flight is one step closer to a great routine.
The next step is the rulebook. You MUST know what to expect in competition. I myself have been disqualified for being unaware or unclear on a rule. Rulebooks are usually available at competitions, but should be looked at long before you get to a competition. If there is a rule you are not clear on, call someone, e-mail someone, ask someone, or get hold of your AKA Regional Director. I don’t think I can stress this one enough. Nothing feels worse than walking off a competition field with no score because you did something you didn’t know was wrong. Ignorance is no excuse however. Judges know what they are doing and competitors need to know as well.
After a few years of competing, the one thing I have really learned is that this sport is done for love. We don’t get rich on it. There are no big prizes or contracts. Never forget that you fly for fun. The worst competition performances are the ones you feel you have to do. Fly routines you like. Use music you enjoy flying to. Entertain both yourself and the crowd and you will have all the reward you need to keep flying.
These ramblings are an introduction. In the future, I will concentrate on specific aspects of flying a four line kite in competition. If I inspire one reader to give it a shot and he or she has had a good time doing it, I have then accomplished what I am setting out to do here.
So stay tuned, read on, and never be discouraged. There are lots of great fliers who want you to be a great flier and competitor. My best days flying were the days Debbie Hurd and Billy Ng beat me for the first time. Two fliers who looked to me for advice a year earlier had equaled or surpassed me. I hope more of you do the same.