2012 AKA Grand Nationals – Day 2

Off and running again, my morning started with a quick French press coffee in our room (we brought it) and finishing the first daily update – then, it was of to the Cherokee Strip Conference Center for a silent sit-in on the board meeting (allowed only due to the fact I’m running unopposed and it would be beneficial to have some idea of where I’m picking up from)… Suffice it to say that the organization other than being down on membership, is financially stable and there was no sense of contention – totally positive vibe, very important as we move forward.

Spending part of my time in them meeting, I was only able to make it to the the first workshop on my list for roughly half of the scheduled time, but A first-timers Introduction to the Convention has been one of my personal favorites for the past 2-3 years, hosted this time by Sis and Dick Vogel… It’s a casual affair for folks who have never been to AKAGN before, generally joined by some enthusiastic old-timers with good answers to questions, stories, tips to getting the most of the event and lots genuine encouragement.

I also popped my head into Kitemakers Competition – Getting Ready by Mike Mosman, but sadly I didn’t make it to How to Make a Fighter Kite by Dave Young and Origin of the Species (evolution from idea to kite) by Robert Brasington although I heard a good buzz from the folks coming out of those presentations.

As they’ll be doing through the week, there were also folks taking care of auction receiving and registration pick up, bag raffle set up, etc – these are jobs that deserve real thanks, as they are often thankless and involve spending a surprising amount of your convention week volunteering indoors, away from the kites… Truly, thank you very much to Cinda Shannon, Greg Lamoureux, Alice Hayden, Marla Miller and a whole slew of other folks who generously donated their time and passion.

To the field with TK around 11:50am – not a bad venue all in all with clean grass, great weather, relatively unobstructed wind from all around (looked like mostly 2-story buildings around, and a good amount of flat land between us and them… Wind speed was pretty good at what felt like 4-6 mph for the first half of the day, followed by occasional drops and shifts in the latter part of the day but it still looked flyable for the most part, based only on what I could see on both the sport kite and single line fields.

Believe it or not, I only flew two kites today and one of them will probably probably surprise you…

First, we wandered over to the fighter kite field to see a bit of what they were doing – giving a workshop on how to fly fighter kites, hanging out and chatting while getting ready for Novice Line Touch competition… While we were there, Sharon Champie loaned TK a little fighter which I ended up tugging around for 15-20 minutes and had way more success than ever before – I like watching them, but fighter kites and I just haven’t connected very well over the years (i.e. I generally suck at it), but today was a refreshing change – thanks Sharon!

Nearby, the sport kite competition was underway and some categories may have been moved to another day (I didn’t check), but there were 8 disciplines on the printed schedule and from what I understand, a whopping 17 total competitors…

Granted, some of the sport kite competitors are competing in multiple categories, but this might just be the smallest turnout in history for their national championship… It seems to be following the trend of sport kite competition around the country where some conferences actually aren’t currently holding any competitions at all, or are down to just 2 or 3 all year… I’m here to tell you, there really is no one thing or organization at fault for this – but I’m hopeful for the coming years, we’ll be exploring some ways to bring some of the fun, efficiency and growth back in to the sport kite competition scene – if we’re willing to work at it a bit.

I didn’t get photos of the sport kite scores like we usually do, but given the fact that the result sheets will have the top three names as “to be announced” until Saturday night and I’m guessing most of the categories have just 3-4 fliers, I think we’ll be holding off until the awards banquet, and then post them all together on Sunday morning.

There was also the mass ascension for Rokkakus and Fighters where we saw a ton of beautiful kites, and despite me yelling “Engage! Engage!” from the sideline, everyone was really well behaved and were having an audibly good time while they earned their participation pins.


Peppered all around the field, there were also a bunch of awesome display kites including works from Robert Brasington, Simon Crafts, Adrian Conn, Scott Skinner, Rob Pratt, Alexa King and a bunch other superb kitemakers that I either didn’t have a chance to actually connect with or simply can’t remember at this late hour (midnight-30 and up at 7am tomorrow).

Around 4:30pm, we jumped in the car and headed over to the Northern Oklahoma College’s indoor baseball practice field for the evening indoor kite competition and demo… All astroturf with rubber “dirt”, the space was really large with a high overhead for good flying and practice!

The surprise though, and I’m sorry to even mention it, but my job is also to report… There were four total competitors and two of them scratched, they may have ended up not being able to attend even though they confirmed – so, Mike Mosman and I had our “battle of the titans” (a bt of humor between friends)… We both flew clean, then we went straight into a string of demos for the audience of 50 or so people (just a guess, and 95% of them kitefliers).

The folks in attendance were really responsive, most of them were not indoor fliers themselves, but with the show and a whole bunch of impromptu lessons afterward (more than I’ve ever seen at AKAGN), I’m guessing more than a few folks will be going home with the itch to try it again.

That brings us to the end of day 2 – each day ahead will be progressively more involved for me with sport kite judging duties and the fateful business meeting / annual elections tomorrow night… It’s 2:30am and once again time for bed.

So until our next update, I thank you for reading – see you tomorrow!

John Barresi

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Author:John Barresi

Involved in the greater kiting community since 1990, John is an avid kite flier in several disciplines, has served as President of the American Kitefliers Association, and is co-founder of the Revolution sport kite team iQuad. View John Barresi's Profile →

3 Responses to “2012 AKA Grand Nationals – Day 2”

  1. Jay Farlow
    October 3, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    I thought I’d comment on the part of this report that refers to a decline in sport kite competition. As John knows (and KiteLife readers will soon see), I recently interviewed some sport kite experts for profiles in KiteLife, including Felix Mottram and Jacob Twyford of London-based The Decorators and Lee Sedgwick.

    Jacob, Felix and Lee all said (in one way or another) that they want to go to events and fly all day, not just for a few minutes of competition. For all three that was a significant reason they left competition to focus on exhibition.

    Jacob and Felix also indicated that more and more festivals in England are setting aside space for the “fun flying” (my term) of sport kites. Whereas in the past, the only space to safely fly a sport kite has been the exhibition and/or competition arena.

    My conclusion is that if American event organizers (especially competition organizers) can be encouraged to follow suit and provide sport kite “fun fly” and practice space where a filer could safely fly all day if he/she wants, that might help increase interest in attending (and maybe even competing). As Jacob points out in the upcoming story, such a practice/fun fly space would also encourage camaraderie and the sharing of information between experienced and less experienced fliers.

    I note that my and my wife’s favorite Midwestern kite festival offers space on the beach for the “pros” to do sport kite demonstrations, space for quad-line newcomers to take a brief lesson from Revolution’s Ben Dantonio, space for filers of massive kites to launch their displays and space for single line kites of all types. But this fantastic festival has not, in the three years we’ve attended, roped off space specifically for sport kite practice or fun flying.

    Something to consider!

  2. Tmadz
    October 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    I’m really surprised that there isn’t room for “open” fly. This is supposed to be the national convention for kiting. What do kiters like to do most? I understand having competitions, but I’m trying to learn and getting good enough to compete seriously is not a goal for me. I want to fly for fun and talk to my friends and learn something new. I would hope that having so many great fliers and designers would be such a draw to see some incredible kites and flying. I would hope that there is room for the hardcore kiting community and also for the public at large. That’s where I hope the open fly and lessons would be a huge draw.

    • October 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      Not everyone competes, and there were six open flies today (Oct 3rd)… Update will be online within an hour or so. 😉

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