What is Happening Inside That Yellow Tape????
Music is ready. Routine is ready. You think you have all you need to compete. The big question is, “what happens next?”
Registration. Sounds simple, but too many of us do not register on time for competitions. This leads to confusion and stress that you do not need when you are competing. So, simply register early and plan your trip well. Make sure to send the check wherever it goes. Those who register late end up first in the flight order. This doesn’t help the nerves or stress level.
At the event, check the schedule. At least 20 minutes before your event is scheduled, put together whatever kites you may need. If you are using a vented, have a standard out. Using a standard, have your ultralite ready. You never know what the wind will do.
So… you’ve registered, you’re at the event, you know the schedule, your kites are ready and you hear the announcement, “Intermediate Individual Quad line Fliers please report to field #1.” DO IT. Your field director and judges get annoyed and the event slows down if you are not where you are supposed to be. Pay attention to the schedule. If you have any conflict because you are in two events, see the head judge and it will be taken care of.
The first person you will meet will most likely be your field director. He will ask you for your music and verify for you where you are in the flight order. Check this as there are usually last minute changes. The field director will have a box for music and a silly headset on, usually.
Next you will, as a group with the others in your field, have a preflight meeting. Any modifications to rules, boundaries, hazards, as well as the location of the pit, will be explained. If you have any questions, now is the time for them. Judges can be intimidating, but they know the rules and will gladly help you if you have a concern.
Time To Get Nervous!
Now it’s off to the pit. Make sure you have any kites, lines, helpers, etc. you may need. There will be a pit boss there making sure all competitors are there and telling you when you are next. Be sure to check in with this person. He or she will be standing around the pit with a clipboard and the flight order. (Duh!!) This is where you can stretch your lines, connect your kite and get ready. You may or may not be permitted to fly in the pit depending on the event. STACK events never allow flying in the pit, so be aware, you will be disqualified if you do.
Nerves are high now, the pit boss says you are next, you hear the guy flying call “OUT!” Your turn! Have a ground crew help you get on the field. Some events (all STACK events) will require your kite to be carried on and off the field, so be sure you know the rule at the event.
As you get on the field, the field director will approach you. He will look funny with the stupid headset on, wind meter and stopwatch around his neck and clipboard in hand. FLY! Check the wind. See where you need to be on the field. If you know you will need to back up, start as far upwind as you can without being out of bounds. Be sure your ground crew is there somewhere near the end of your lines as well. Once you are here, you can’t change kites or lines so be sure you go on the field with the right stuff. Your pit crew CAN carry replacement parts for your kite, so if you have extra sticks it is a good idea to let your crew carry them on the field. A spreader can be replaced quickly and can save a routine if you break it early.
You are in the right place…. you land where you want to begin and the field director tells you the judges are ready. Wow, your stomach feels funny and you tell him or her you are ready. The music starts and you start to fly. Just as the music started, the field director started his/her watch. He or she will keep time and you hit 4 minutes (for individual events) he or she will call out.
The field director is your only source for information now other than your kite. He or she may talk to you and tell you if you are close to a boundary, close to walking out of bounds, or near any hazard on the field (some have holes). Do not hesitate to ask him or her for wind, time or position checks. That is why this person is near you.
Have fun!!!!! Fly your heart out. Don’t let anything throw your concentration on your kite or your music. Feel it. If you blow something, just keep going. If something goes wrong with your music, keep flying and talk to the field director.
So.. you did it. Call “out!” when you are finished. Breathe. Leave the field with your kite (let your crew carry it if need be). Wait for scores. It may take awhile depending upon the event.
Now Comes the Hard Part
One of the hardest things to do comes next. Talk to people who saw you fly. Ask the judges what was good and what was bad later on. Improve it.
Always, even if you win. Also, don’t be discouraged. Judges are critical; that’s their job. They will be willing to talk to you and you should take advantage. Take their advice. They know what they are talking about.
Don’t forget, most of us do this for fun. Have fun. Watch others have fun and see who does it the best. Learn from other fliers. Watch the Master’s class competitions. You may learn more that way than any other. That’s what I did. I watched Bob McBroom, Dave Arnold, Lee Sedgwick, Bob Hanson, John Barresi, Ron Despojado, Brian Vanderslice and a bunch of others out fly me over and over until I could keep up with them. I let them inspire, teach and mystify me before I could compete alongside them. You can even ask judges what they liked about the top fliers’ routines. Even ask the top fliers.
Most of all, after the nerves, butterflies, thrill, and eventually coming down period from a competition, do it again. Come back. Keep trying. Keep flying and continue to have fun. I have more respect for those who never give up than any other competitors. Keep flying your Ultra Stoney! Deb Hurd, win that national title! And for those of you who haven’t done it yet, get out there and fly. Competition is what pushes mankind to do things better. Come out and put the big boys to bed. Beat them. They won’t mind. I’m glad Debbie and Billy Ng beat me. I want to see who will be the ones who beat them. I hope I may have inspired some of them.
Till next time, enjoy the summer, fly often and OH MY LORD!, next time I write I will be a happily married (gulp) kite flier.