So, there I am, wandering around the sand at the West Coast Rev Clinic, the fourth edition of the event, when one of the students asked me a question that really made me stop and think. I mean, I get such questions fairly frequently, often because someone is asking me to mentally break down some manner of move that for me has now become second nature. “Well, first you, then you have to…and watch out for….”
But, the question was more subtle than that. The question was quite straightforward in fact, but, I had to stop and ponder it for a while to really get a solid answer, and as the question has since bounced around my brain in the last couple of weeks since the clinic, maybe it’s worthwhile to pose here. And if it’s not, you can all beat up on me in either the Kitelife forum or the Revolution one, ok?
Initially the question was “What separates an intermediate flyer from being an advanced flyer”. This was in the context of how the groups got split up for the clinic to a degree, but given we asked people to rate themselves (and I will say that without, not one person overrepresented their skills and as we have found in the past, people tend to typically UNDERATE their skills) that wasn’t entirely what the person was asking about. They were more concerned on a personal level, as to when a person “passes” that particular point.
By extension, we can widen the question to include the beginners category as well and bear in mind, these words are –solely- my opinion and are subject to change. But they won’t change too much, in fact, this pretty much mirrors my opinion on this for many years with really only one minor change and that change was predicated entirely by a overall change in flying styles over roughly the past 5 years or so. So, lets break it down a little bit.
The Beginning Rev Flyer
At this point, ie, from the moment you get your first Rev from a store, online or otherwise, it’s all about the basics. How to set the kite up properly (And fear not, some very talented people spent their first few hours with a Rev that had the rods on the wrong side of the sail…), how to deal with the lines (see below!) and the basics of quad line kite flying. While I have mentioned line management, now is an excellent time to repost this video, John Barresi’s great 10 minute video on the “best” approach to dealing with 4 lines, a winder and some handles… With over 21,000 views since it was posted, it’s clearly been very popular with fliers worldwide.
People can feel free to wind however they like, I truly believe this, but at the same time, I am completely convinced with the benefits of the this particular approach.
Learn it, use it and you will spend less time sorting out your lines, for sure. Ok, enough on that, yet again.
So where was I?
Ah yes, what defines the flying of a beginner. With regards to flying, it really boils down to one thing. You are still figuring out the basics of control. Initially, it’s all about simply keeping it in the air at all. For 30 seconds, then 60 seconds, then minutes, etc. If you want to turn in one direction, you will mentally work it out in your head and then apply that knowledge, and with some luck and practice, your kite will nicely turn in that direction.
In time you will have the basics of Rev flight “down” to a degree. You may have the beginnings of a solid hover going on in at least the two vertical positions, and you may, if you are lucky enough to live close to some other Rev flyers, been involved in some very basic team flying. But touching lines still weirds you out a little or a lot. Reverse flight will likely elude you for the moment. You likely will have more than one Rev within the next month or so, dependent on how much you get out to fly.
The single biggest thing to focus on? Getting those hovers workable in all four directions, but, at least 3 of the four with some degree of stability. I’d suggested above that very little had changed regarding my feelings on these breakdowns, however, this is the one area that is now much more important to get a handle on with respect to moving on and flying in conjunction with others.
This one is a little easier to quantify and often people who manage to spend their first time or two out with another Rev flyer who walks them through the first few times will make this jump sometimes in an afternoon. Basically, the setup stuff is pretty much done with, your lines consistently don’t give you too much grief.
You understand much of “this is how you get from here to there”, whether or not that’s forward or in reverse. Hovering isn’t a huge issue for you any longer though the upside may still cause some shakiness, but nothing you can’t remove when you concentrate. And I guess that’s what it really comes down to, you can do nearly anything you’d like with the Rev but, much of it still requires conscious thought as you are doing it. As an advanced flyer, you are starting to eye Rev bags as some manner of method of concealment from whomever you may have to answer to budget wise. You have likely participated more than a few times in a team flying situation.
You have also likely gone to a couple of kite festivals, and perhaps even traveled significant distances to do that. You have more than a couple of sets of lines and you have flown at least a few different models of Revs, and own a few. Some things you can work on though…
Simple things like, fly for 5 minutes all in reverse. Master 1/8 point hovers and work on the ever elusive bicycle rotation.
Get 2 Revs in a special deal simply because, well, you will fill it sooner or later won’t you? Starting pondering which artist you’d like to see a new Masterpiece from, or, worse yet, haunting the online boards JUST IN CASE someone decides to part with an earlier one? You know Steve DeRooy’s middle name but still don’t get how any human can fly two at once. And while you are at it, spend some time going through EVERY AKA precision move for quads in the link below:
In addition to the skill-based curriculum we teach at our clinics, John commonly says “don’t just ambiguously try to keep the kite up, have a plan, no matter how simple”… His philosophy is that flying patterns (compulsory shapes) or actually applying the skills your learning in some sort of practical application will put everything you’ve learned into richer context.
The ever elusive final step up the ladder. Why elusive? Because you can never really know all there is to know about Rev flying, but, you can certainly come reasonably close. You now fly without giving it much thought whatsoever, and can likely carry on detailed discussions on a myriad of topics while you are flying. It’s no longer a case of “well, in order to get to point B, I need to do this, this and this”, you simply get there, in forward or reverse without giving it much thought.
It’s quite likely you have spent a good amount of time team flying, though depending on where you live, and the proximity of other flyers, perhaps not.
But, you likely understand most of the “basic” moves that any of the groups might use on a given day. You have given up hiding Revs in your house and you now have your credit card number on file at the local kite store, or, worse yet, BEN HAS IT IN THE OFFICE! Your new kite decisions rest more on what you can fit into your car and maybe you need a larger car to handle all your kite paraphernalia.
You’ve made a few trips to far off lands just to hang out with other Rev flyers. In fact, your travel agent keeps tabs on flights to any of the big festivals, just in case the urge strikes. You can fly all the precision compulsories in forwards and reverse, while talking. You know John’s middle name.
And what can you, the mighty advanced Rev flyer do with all these great new skills? Why that’s another tremendously easy answer. You can teach others to fly. By talking your thought processes out to others, teaching them what you have learned along the way, you will develop an even keener understanding of what is involved with flying a Rev!
I did get some more time on the new Revolution B2 (the B-Series “rethink” of the Rev II kite) and I have to say, while the original Rev II found it’s “home” in high winds and longer lines, where it excelled as a higher wind Rev, I’m tempted to think that the B2’s sweet spot of fun and performance is actually on shorter, ie, 30 feet lines in low to no wind situations. It’s a barrel of fun on short lines, and I recently saw some video from the Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival with Watty (Spence Watson) doing some jaw dropping moves with his Rev II (inspired by Fabrice Baldan of the Crazy Drivers team in France), so I can only imagine how the B2 will perform indoors! Double axels anyone?
Even as I write this, John is retrofitting his B2 for indoor use in a desperate attempt to keep up with Spence by learning some of these new tricks that the smaller Rev is so well-suited to.
Obviously, I had so much fun in Malaysia/Singapore last fall, I wanted to make sure a full sized iQuad made the trip and funds from this clinic are part of what is making that happen. It’ll be tailored much in the same fashion as the ones we have held here in North America over the last few years, with the addition of 1 day of dual line flying, done by John, and expert heckling by the rest of his iQuad teammates.
No, you wouldn’t want me instructing anyone on how to fly a dual so, my plan for the first day is to simply stand around and look handsome. John will have his hands full…
After the Singapore Clinic, iQuad will be heading over to Bintulu for the 7th Borneo International Kite Festival, where we will also see Team 8 from Taiwan, Air Rex from Japan, a Korean Rev team and more. What kind of megafly record can we set in SE Asia I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Based on our current schedule, it would also appear that Bintulu will be iQuad’s 100th kite festival (really? 100? In just 5 years? Where does the time go?!) and thus, it’s likely to be quite the event for us. Hopefully we’ll see a lot of you that live in the area while we are there!
And finally, one more thing, to quote Steve Jobs…Likely the entire kite community here in North America watched a rather special event unfold across a few episodes of TV last year. A fine gentleman that I had the honor of meeting many years ago, at WSIKF, when he was MUCH shorter, managed to work himself up through the ranks of America’s Got Talent. It was truly a nailbiter and we were all heartbroken when he didn’t make the finals. But, through the support of kite flyers, via Facebook, Twitter and other methods of voting, managed to get Connor Doran back into the competition as a wild card entrant for the finals!
I remember racing down to WSIKF last summer, trying to make sure I could catch it live on TV when he flew. And fly he did! The room at WSIKF exploded in applause, despite his not winning in the end. Truly and utterly inspirational! Connor has since gone on to become a roving spokesperson for Epilepsy research and causes, taking his story and flying to a string of appearances, including just the other week in Washington, DC, where he and his mother, Amy even got a tour of the White House! How’s that eh?
But, there was a surprise awaiting Connor when he got to DC. Ben D’Antonio, the curmudgeon to end all curmudgeons, was waiting for Connor, and with him was the very first custom 1.5 that Revolution has released as a production kite, complete with Connor’s Dare To Dream logo emblazoned upon it. A suitable honor for for someone who has likely done more for the exposure of indoor kite flying than anyone else ever has, and at the same time, drawn attention to Epilepsy causes.
Not bad for someone still in high school. Connor, my hat is off to you, it’s been a huge thrill as this has all unfolded and I’m proud to call you a friend. The kite itself is available from Revolution immediately, check the website or call up your local store for more information, and, Dare to dream a little yourself.