Issue 48: Cutting Edge Spring Fling

You know, for many of us – attending / participating in kiting events is just a natural part of us, sort of a way of life, if you will. And for me, the whole experience starts when I turn the key on the kite-hauler and fire her up – on our way. So that simple turn-the-key action sorta jump starts my soul and puts me where I want to be in the first place.

Therefore, that simple act of starting out tickled an up-beat in my heart… Cinco de Mayo was already a good day with partly cloudy skies and mild temps, and it was gonna get better. So John Barresi and I settled into our “on-the-road” routine rather quickly, and the two and a half hour trip from Portland, OR to Ocean Shores, WA was easy and filled with promise – not the least of which was the joy both of us feel when we’re finally out of the Kitelife office and “On The Beach” for a change… We were headed to Cutting Edge Kites’ Spring Fling, and life just couldn’t be better – even with the outrageous price of the gasoline we’d burn up to get there!

Pulling into Ocean Shores found us split up – John wanting to be dropped off at the Pacific Avenue entrance to the beach, and I was headed off to see my old friend Chris Casal at Cutting Edge. Chris filled me in on the goings on about town as usual, and there was also some discussion on the weather forecast, which was not particularly auspicious – and weather would certainly play a major part in our activities this weekend even though we didn’t know it for sure at the time. So I eventually headed back to pick John up after an hour or so and he was busy “playing with the wind” with about other 10 pals and having a high old time – big grins and all.

My friends Steve Damon and Debbie Holmberg happened by while we were all hanging out there together on the edge of the world, so we spent a little time playing with a pretty orange and white Roller that Steve had given me, and we had our own high old time while I waited for John to reach his exhaustion point. (Yes, that really does happen to John occasionally, folks.) Then it was time to leave the pretty beach and the extra-fine flying-wind, and our dinner location turned out to be the pizza place adjacent to Cutting Edge. I had a very nice plate of lasagna, and left with a full belly and a satisfied smile. Then we headed off to see our friends at Trendwest’s Mariner Village – our lodgings for the weekend.

The next morning sort of “eased” into daylight with very light winds and the potential of some drizzle… Not too hot for a kite competition but we’d deal with it anyway, so we headed off to breakfast with our fingers crossed and mumbled small prayers for a little weather improvement. And once the bacon and eggs were consumed, we could see some blue sky and feel some decent breezes. We were gonna get to fly after all – NOT that it was in question anyway…

The first chore in any kite competition for the Northwest Sport Kite League (NWSKL) is the “set-up.” And I gotta tell you – it’s an amazing thing to watch. Take a barren beach – nothing but sand and the ocean. Add a couple of rent-a-potties, plus 4-5 cars full of gear from the league, and you can have a competition rolling in an hour. Some folks haul out lines and stakes and pre-cut PVC tubes and start lining the field. Others pull up and erect a pop-up, and start filling it up with portable tables and sound equipment. The generator gets yanked out and fired up, the speakers get placed on stands and strung with cable, the “Scoreboard” tarp gets hung – and we’re in business and ready to roll. And these guys’re real PROS at it, too!

Next order of business was the Pilot’s Meeting – complete with a real Shocker this time…

While today’s weather was not altogether perfect (but flyable), tomorrow’s weather promised to be gawd-awful – with several rain showers forecast and winds in the 30 to 45 MPH range. Therefore, the whole NWSKL crowd decided to really work at the schedule aggressively to see if they could get all of the events crammed into one day. Flying the events would be the major effort, and things like demo flights and optional events (e.g. – Mystery Ballet, Hot-Tricks, etc.) and the hour-and-a-half lunch breaks would simply NOT occur. Well – Okay… We think… We’ll REALLY have to push it, though…

And so everyone immediately readied themselves to fly “the schedule” with the absolute minimum of delays…

Well, I know the suspense is probably killing you, so I’ll cut out the delays here and let you know that THEY DID IT! Event after event went off without a hitch. Everyone ran with the ball, maintained the schedule, and flew well and quickly and then exited the field to give the next person their shot. It’s actually kind of amazing when you think about it – and the only minor hold up in the whole day was… (you ready for this?)… waiting for the judges to complete the score-sheets between performances. Yup!

Okay – I’m not even going to try to recap the schedule of separate events here… All I can tell you is that we started with the Masters Individual Precision event and ended with Masters Team Ballet, and all the rest of the dual and quad-line individual and pairs and team events got sandwiched in there somehow… You can look at the scores below and simply be amazed at how much flying got crammed into how little time!

Results from Cutting Edge Kites Spring Fling can be found by clicking here.

By my count, 54 individual competition performances were flown, scored, computed, and tallied. And for some people like John Barresi, this meant flying up to ten different comp performances in a single day! (Fortunately, there was only “minimal” whining from John about the two First places he’d missed, during the drive home. LOL !!!)

Other occurrences of note during the comps? Well, I happened to see Chuck “The Old Man On The Beach” Johnson along with “Burner” Bob Walters together out on the beach, talking with Mike Huff. It’s always nice to see those old guard folks coming out to watch the action. Oh, and Jerry Cannon of Team Cutting Edge showed up near the end – straight from the airport after a flight back from Japan. And I even managed to get an SLK or two into the air myself, too. Not a bad day by any stretch of the imagination!

Then it was time for the tear-down… and the NWSKL crew fell to and demolished all remnants of the competition field in about 45 minutes flat. We were done and out of there by about 6:00 PM, leaving nothing but a couple of port-a-potties and a bunch of sand (though we took our fair share of sand home in roll-up kite bags and gear sacks). “Incredible” is the only word to describe NWSKL set-up and tear-down efficiency!

Yep, we were done from “get-go” to “gone” in roughly eleven hours! Truly Amazing!

And the Spring Fling awards were handed out in the parking lot outside of Cutting Edge Kites by none other than Jim Barber himself, just returned from Japan. Jim and the rest of Team Cutting Edge had gone on to Japan immediately following the successful defense of their last year’s World Sport Kite Championship win, with the 2006 WSKC event held over in Berck sur Mer, France this year.

Okay, what’s left to report…? Following the presentations, we headed for the Mexican place for dinner (chicken enchilada with rice and beans, plus coffee) and then it was back to the Mariner Village again for some beer and conversation – and also to mend a couple of broken kites. In bed by midnight, folks.

Hmmm… Okay, so the whole event was over… So what do we do now…???

Well, Sunday morning broke with the predicted rain all right, but the wind didn’t look too bad… So what do we do with this morning – go for breakfast? Nah… Let’s hang around Mariner Village for a while and drink some more coffee while everyone else has a chance to shower – – – so we did!

Lemme tell you how lackadaisical and “laid back” things were that Sunday Morning… I’d gone out to do an “up close and personal” weather check on the dunes in front of our complex (Yup – still raining!). And, coming back to the room I wandered into the wrong room, completely by mistake. All of a sudden, someone said “Good Morning!!!” – and it wasn’t a guy! There were three folks, about my age (old) sitting there, drinking coffee – all with a twinkle in their eyes with knowing I’d blown it. Oops… We all laughed together, and I apologized and beat a hasty retreat to our room next door!

Still, it seemed to be slacking off on the rain, and the cloud cover appeared to be lifting somewhat… Maybe it was time to go to breakfast after all. Okay, load up the vehicles, check out, and head for a restaurant. More coffee and some food, and we’ll see what we can make of the day. And – wouldn’t you know – when we’d finished, the skies showed patches of blue and the winds began to kick up precisely as promised. Okay – we can work with this stuff! OFF TO THE BEACH!

When we arrived a few minutes later, the wind was precisely as promised – high teens velocity, and rising! We’d see speeds in the 30s before we’d leave the beach again. Still, there were folks out there with sport kites aloft, so our gang jumped in to swell their numbers. First kites out of the bag were sport dualies, quickly followed by a couple of kite trains – including Amy Doran’s homemade Trlby stack and then John’s Mirages and Warbirds. Then out came David Hathaway’s Vented Rev 1.5, and next thing you know, there were sport kites of various kinds all over the beach. And everyone was trying someone else’s kites… What delight!

I’d venture to guess that Mario Di Lucca probably had the most fun of all… He started by flying Amy’s Trlby stack, and immediately fell in love with it. Rippin’ wind, bright sun-shiny day, and feeling extremely good – and Mario what grinning and shouting and dancing all over the beach – he was SO delighted by it all… And, Mario’s enthusiasm was instantly contagious, of course, and it spread up and down the beach like wildfire.

And a short way down the beach stood Egan Davis, tricking the living daylights out of his Masque. Now, if Mario was delighted – Egan was certainly his equal there. The difference is that Egan is usually that way anyway, so it’s kinda hard to tell when something pushes Egan over the top. I suspect that Egan just goes through his LIFE in his permanent “over the top” mode. Finally, there was David “Monkey-Boy” Hathaway… putting his vented Rev through its paces with a big grin plastered on his face… Three Canadians, down from British Columbia – having more fun than you’d think possible with grown men. What a HOOT!

Now I don’t mean to imply here that we Yanks were staid and reserved, of course. John Barresi, Todd Rudolph, Scott Ralston, Amy Doran, and Jim Thompson weren’t exactly what you’d call sedate…

John had started out with a dualie stunter, but quickly switched to his vented Rev 1.5 for playing… And he was in rare form too! Scott had some vented dualie out, twisting and gyrating all over the place, and Jim Thompson had a Quantum Pro in the air and was flailing away and laughing with the best of ‘em. Amy was out, sorta watching Mario fly her Trlbys, but also fooling around with one of her dualies, too. And Todd – watching John and David – was pulling out his own Rev 1.5 to fly…

…and next thing you know, they all played “musical kites” (very similar to Musical Chairs, without the music). Egan was flying John’s Mirages and Warbirds, with Mario anxious to grab the straps when Egan got tired. Jim, Scott, and Amy hung in there with their own kites, flying individually as before.

But John, Monkey-Boy, and Todd had started to coalesce into a kind of “group,” which eventually turned into trying some quad-line “team” stuff… and the grins just got wider – MUCH wider! By the time they finished, nearly collapsing on the sand, there was talk of a quad-line Team, and discussion turned into who to get for a fourth member. I do believe we witnessed the gestation of a new quad-team that day! (They even have a name picked out – so when you hear the name “iQuad,” now you’re in on the origin story of the team.

As you might suspect, the wind had indeed picked up, and everyone was flying in about 25-30 MPH “breezes,” with occasional puffs well above that. And as you might suspect, this gaggle of kite-geese was mostly unwilling to give up all this fun. Still, we all had at least 150 miles to travel today, and Amy was roughly 400 miles from home. We’d best think about hitting the road. Even so, we had at least a half hour of “I’m not willing to leave this extraordinary wind” indecision before we could pry a couple of these die-hards off the beach.

The compromise, of course, was Food! While wind is always a “good” thing – Food is both good and “necessary!” Therefore, food won out – but only with a considerable reluctance from some at having to make the choice in the first place. Still, “Mexican” sounded good to the assembled pilots, and die-hards like Egan Davis and John Barresi grudgingly acquiesced – then ordered the largest and most filling items on the menu. LOL

So after a hearty meal, we finally separated from the rest of the mob in late-afternoon and beat feet for home. John spent the first portion of the southerly journey making a valiant attempt to keep his eyelids apart, but eventually succumbed before we hit I-5. I drove us on home to Portland with a placidly sleeping passenger… Well, I thought, “Why not? John’s certainly done his part!” Yep – another one in the bag, and a pretty terrific one a that. Like they say, “If you didn’t have fun at THIS one, you just weren’t paying attention!”

   Fair Winds and Good Friends,

      Dave “Geezer” Shattuck