Sometime ago, roughly just over four years ago, we held what we believe to be the first ever Rev-centric clinic (workshop) on the sands of Long Beach, Washington.
John Barresi had done this previously on a smaller scale, with the focus being on both dual and quad line kites but, we figured there might be some interest in doing a “dedicated” quad clinic over a few days, with the help of The Kite Museum.
The response was quite a bit better than we initially expected, and since that first one, we have gone on to hold similar clinics at many festivals around North America with as many as 32 students attending, including one in Portsmouth, England in 2008.
Just the other week, one was held in Spain, organized by Tonet and his team, Bolau which saw over FIFTY students attending! A mind bogglingly number, I was stunned as I paged through photos of the event on Facebook.
Apparently there are still a few people who’d like to learn how to handle a Rev a bit better, who would have guessed? Well, we did guess and as we rolled into 2011, plans were well underway to run the FOURTH annual West Coast Rev Clinic. Over the years and the numerous clinics we have participated in, we have learned a few lessons.
The first and most obvious one was for every weekend we wait in March, the better the weather will be! I can quite honestly say that this year’s weather was by FAR the best we have ever had though, honestly, nothing will ever beat the sheer entertainment of the vast variety of weather we had in 2008, with sun, rain, showers, snow, sleet, hail and likely a few more permutations putting in appearances throughout the weekend.
This time around? We saw rain briefly for a little while on Sunday and for the rest, it was downright kind of nice. Some sun, some cloudy moments, and lots of ominous clouds that mostly took the route around Long Beach over parking on top of us for a deluge.
As per previous years, Friday is an optional day. We start arriving around lunch time-ish and the afternoon is spent getting to know people, flying for the sheer fun of it and some amount of one on one time where appropriate.
It acts as a great ice breaker and we, the “instructors” (Clinicians?) can get a good feel for just where everyone’s skill levels. It also lets us catch up with returning friends as well, some of which we likely had not seen since the previous summer at WSIKF when we mounted the 64 kite megafly.
Follow this up with a small scale invasion of the local Thai food restaurant ( a MUST VISIT place in Long Beach, we go every single time we are in town and sometimes, twice! ) and you have the makings for a pretty fine day as well as a relaxing one.
One thing I did notice, the Pacific Northwest coast must have had some pretty awesome storms over the winter, I have never seen so much beach debris on that beach! I made a mental note to send John a day early next year to try and sweep the place up a little before the company arrives…
The clinic itself “properly” starts on Saturday morning with a coffee fueled, donut driven, meet and greet and eat, which we hold at the World Kite Museum, BRIGHT AND EARLY at 8AM (mental note, obviously this is a lesson we do not learn each time we do this clinic, that’s too damn early!) .
It gives us a chance to go through the rough agenda for the weekend and try as much as possible to put names to faces we may not be familiar with. It also gave us a chance to throw our two guest instructors to the wolves!
This year we brought back Spence “Watty” Watson and coming back for his first time as an instructor instead of a student, Terry Wiggil from Victoria, who leads the Island Quad team. This also gives us chance to promote the Kite Museum and Kay Buesing made this extra easy with a great display of bird kites from all over the world, roosting on the upper floor of the museum.
Once we have released the students from the museum and set them loose out on the sand, we followed a plan that we have developed over the clinics we have held. Essentially, we break the group up into 3 levels, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced (more on this breakdown in this month’s Revisions).
We divide each group with somewhat specific lists of things to work on, and send them off with 2-3 instructors for a dedicated amount of time. Often the sessions would begin with just the instructors handling kites for the first part with the students then picking theirs up to try out what has just been demonstrated.
Within that, there’s time to split off on your own to work on things as well.
Hopefully we have managed to find the fine line of directly supervising things and giving students enough freedom to learn and play on their own as well.
On one hand, you never want to run the clinic like some manner of drill camp with a dedicated eye on the clock and very specific timing because it would then quickly become like work. But, one thing we have learned is that having some amount of planned out approach goes much further with the students.
Once we had gone through the first rounds of sessions with people, lunch time had snuck up on us and with that, people either scattered off to have something to eat (those of us not smart enough to pack lunchs that is… I will say the new Edgewater management have done a nice job of the menu in their restaurant which nicely overlooks the kite field) or many stayed to work on what they had learned in their morning sessions. So far the weather had pretty much cooperated with us. It was a bit chilly as one might suspect in the Northwest on a beach in March but, the sun popped out here and there.
We could see big storms off to the east and out on the water but, they seemed to skirt the area, leaving us dry.
And this continued on into the afternoon and I’d go as far as to suggest it was one of the nicer March days I can remember on that beach.
Once the lunch break is done with, we reassemble with the group and we shuffle the instructors around into different groups and focus areas. Sometimes, it just helps to hear essentially the same advice spoken by a new person, which often presents the idea being discussed in a new light, or, at least a slightly different light.
As has always been the case, we had one person who had only bought a Rev a few days before, never having put on in the air before, to people who were quite competent in their flying already and in some cases, had been to one of the clinics before. By keeping a rough split of the three groups with some amount of intermingling, we worked hard to keep everyone entertained and learning, no matter what their skill level was.
We did manage to see a little rain by the end of the afternoon, but, this nicely coincided with the point roughly where we would call it a day anyways, so, nicely timed! Ah, if we only had such control…
Saturday evening means Pizza at Chicos with fabulous prizes! This year’s prizes included some of John Mason’s custom stakes, a trio of yearly Kitelife subscriptions, a beautiful mega fly post card from The Kite Shoppe, some of Walt Ellis’s pro handles and what proved to be the most popular of the event, a brand new Revolution B2, the new reworking of the original six foot Rev II. One of these years, I’ll keep track of just how many pizzas were devoured by the crowd but, we may end up looking at new places to have this as well as it’s getting a bit unmanageable table wise for us all to simply descend upon the place. It’s one thing we’ll be looking at as we start to plan for the 5th version of this next year.
Sunday unrolls in pretty much the same fashion as Saturday does, with the exception of the meeting at the museum, we simply start the next day’s classes directly down on the beach. Again for the most part, we remained mostly rain free, with only a few sprinkles here and there intruding on the day.
The afternoon tends to be a bit more free wheeling than the rest of the course but, as I looked down the beach, I could see nearly every single student involved in some level of team flying or self practice. Really, the Rev clinics have one very straight forward goal. We feel that you should leave the clinic a better, more capable pilot than when you arrived. Judging from my scan down the beach that afternoon, I’d suggest we managed to accomplish this again. I saw people who’d never flown beside anyone now mixing it up in a group of 8, led by John.
I saw other people who swore to me on Saturday that there no way at all they’d be flying team. There was the guy who had only just bought his Rev, flying it now with a good degree of comfort. This doesn’t mean everyone will leave with everything there is to learn under their belt but at the very least, they will be a lot further ahead of where they were when they arrived, and that’s all we can ever ask for. Students leave with their heads full of what they have learned over the weekend and with a good mental list of what remains to be worked on. We have so far not gone with “homework assignments” to be handed in at the next clinic…
We do run these clinics occasionally in other locations, local interest and facilities being available. Currently, we intend to run the first one in SE Asia this coming September, leading up to our trip to the 7th Annual Borneo International Kite Festival in Bintulu, Malaysia the week afterwards. If you’d like to take part, please pop over to the iQuad web site for further details.
One note, this clinic will also encompass a day of dual line flying, as taught by John. The rest of us, you likely wouldn’t want teaching how to properly fly a dual line kite, however if there is sufficient demand, I may be coerced into demonstrating my award winning trick, the Lawn Dart.
Best winds and see you next year at WCRC 5!