Just over four years ago, I had some good discussions with Tonet (Team Bolau) by email about the dynamics of hosting a Rev clinic (structure, logistics, etc)… I sent over the materials we’d been using and shared the philosophy that worked best for us which is simply, family first – make it a social kite flying experience and build the actual program around that priority.
Tonet and his partners from Bolau and the Spanish kiting community launched their first Revoclinic in Spain and had an overwhelming response right out of the gate… Observing from afar (articles, photos, video), it’s been amazing to watch it grow by leaps and bounds every year.
2010 – 58 attendees (+17)
That’s right folks, nearly ONE HUNDRED people (including more than 20 lady fliers) descended on Gandia Spain to participate in the 4th annual Revoclinic… You can read flier discussions (in Spanish) on the Cometas kite forum (or click here for the English translation), but the last published RSVP list I saw read like this:
- John Barresi
- Takako (TK) Barresi
- Ben Dantonio
- Rafa Molina
- Juan Miguel Molina
- Pelailla Hijo de Pelao y Amparo
- Malko ( comevientos)
- Karlota ( comevientos
- Txema ( comevientos)
- Teresa ( comevientos)
- Ruben (Cometas Km 0)
- Antonio (Cometas Km 0)
- Jose Luis (Cometas Km 0)
- Cesar M.
- Juan Silvestre
- Juan Pequeñito (Hijo Juan y Lidón)
- Carlos Torras
- José Manuel (Kiteparts)
- Loli (esposa de José Manuel Kiteparts)
- Carolina (Cometas Km 0)
- ChitoKite (Cometas Km 0)
- Raul Santiago
- Alberto lamba
- Javier cordon
- Niño Lorien.
- Manuel Pino (Cometas Km 0)
- Maribel (acompañante de Manuel Pino)
- Yolanda (Cometas Km 0)
- Helio (Cometas Km 0)
- Alejandro (Cometas Km 0)
- Fernando V
- Alba V
- África (Comevientos)
- Paco (Comevientos)
- Olga (Comevientos)
- Maria (Comevientos)
- Armando Mateo
- Angela Alcalá
- Guzmán Tejeda
- Juan Fernández
- Analiz Pena
- Rubén Vicente
- Antonio San José
- Aurea Gordo
- Fátima Guerrero
- Fernando. R
- Adria M.
- Didier Geslin
- Miguel Perez
- Niels Toftlund Jensen
- Louise Meister Jensen
- Dan Frølunde
- Rafa Granada
- Tito Pa
- TXEMA REDONDO ( Milotxes Club)
- Mª JOSE ( Milotxes Club)
- JUAN ( Milotxes Club)
By the time we started the clinic, I believe we had 98 registrants (86 of those confirmed Rev fliers) and had NEARLY attracted top level pilots like Richard Debray and Steff Fermé… I know they were both sorry to miss it this year, and I’m sure they’ll be reconsidering their plans for 2013.
Wednesday, Feb 29th
Leaving Portland (OR) on Tuesday morning, the +9 hour time change to Spain saw us arriving in Madrid around 9:30 on Tuesday morning… Six hours from PDX to Newark for a six hour layover where we connected with good friend Ben D’Antonio who was also attending this event, another 8 hours from Newark to Madrid and voila, we were met at the airport by Bolau member Tonet and his good friend Jose, who happened to be a taxi driver and did an excellent job of moving us around the city.
First, we stopped at a local cafe to connect with local fliers Carlos and Caroline before going to get good look over the top of Madrid from a high vantage point, we drove past the Plaza de Toro and across town to our next stop.
Thanks to our able guides, we were able to find a specific shoe store in an attempt to find a specific model of Lafuma shoes that TK hadn’t been able to find in the USA… Although the friendly folks at Tottrail didn’t have the color TK was looking for, they really went above and beyond to order them and arrange delivery to our hotel in Spain sometime during the coming weekend – now that’s service – more on this later!
A quick stop next door to the shoe store for some Tapas (Spanish bar snacks) and refreshments, then Antonio and Rubén Sanchez joined our party for lunch at a local restaurant, then finally after a long day of traveling, we headed about an hour outside of Madrid (toward Valencia) to stay at the Sanchez family’s vacation home for the night before moving on to our final destination in Gandia.
Of course, we did a bit of Zen Glider flying in the yard and living room… And impatient as ever, I went out to a local field with some of our group for a quick evening fly while Ben and TK grabbed some much needed sleep – me, I was so excited, I needed to “cut loose” with a good fly before I’d be able to fall asleep anyway.
As it turned out, I spent another couple of hours going back and forth with Tonet via Google Translator… He and I had met briefly at the Bristol Kite Festival (UK) in 2008, but didn’t have much of an opportunity to chat given the schedule and our limited use of each others respective languages (Spanish / English)… Needless to say, once we got rolling with the translator, our excitement for the coming weekend just got bigger as we shared ideas and experiences, getting to know each other a little better.
Finally, one more little solo ballet flight in the living room and it was off to dreamland for me.
Thursday, Mar 1st
Awaking early, we left for the coast before the sun had a chance to rise… Our gracious host Tonet drove the roughly 3 hours from where we were staying to Gandia, which is located on the south coast of Spain just below Valencia, on the Mediterranean Sea where dozens of Rev fliers would be descending over the weekend.
After checking in and unpacking at the hotel, we got in touch with Pedro and Esteban Gonzalez of Los Hermanos, a specialty kite manufacturer that specializes in dye sublimation printing, licensed work for Revolution (Polo and other printed designs) along with a wide variety of other creative ventures… Old friends already, they welcomed us with an amazing and authentic home style meal at a restaurant nearby their workshop which we were able to explore afterward, and all of this just 7 minutes away from the beach – a kitemaker’s dream I think!
We’d started battling a runny nose, congestion and head pressure before we got on the plane to Spain and it was starting to catch up with us… So, it was back to the hotel where TK curled up into bed while Tonet and I headed out onto the beachfront for a little evening flying, the first time we’d shared sky in roughly four years and a great way to wind down the day in a very clean and enjoyable 4-6 mph breeze.
To finish up Thursday, we met up at the hotel buffet (included with the room) for some reasonably good dinner fare and then afterward, 3-4 more hours of Google translator with Tonet as I learned more about the weekend schedule, Rev kiting in Spain, and anything else we could think of to chat about… Before I knew it, we were into the early morning and I was off to join my lovely lady for some much needed rest.
Friday, Mar 2nd
Fortunately, we had nothing on the schedule for Friday morning so we took our sweet time, enjoying breakfast and coffee at the hotel, then leisurely making our way out onto the beach… While I’m proud to say we were the first (Ben, Tonet, TK and I), we were joined quite early by Dan, Niels and Louise from Denmark who had flown in by way of Valencia just for the Revoclinic, putting them among the farthest traveled clinic participants.
More fliers tumbled in throughout the day, just getting some solo practice time and running through a few impromptu team drills… That last bit was a lot of fun for me especially, as I worked with pilots in both English and Spanish, learning a few more commands in Español, no doubt sounding very funny – but we got the job done, and I was able to share the ins and outs of a few basic iQuad maneuvers along the way.
Around mid day, a few of the fliers went to the local mercado (market) and came back with beer (cervesa), Coca-Cola, bread (pan), sausage (chorizo), proscuitto (ham), olives, pate, olive oil and some other goodies for a fantastic European beach/kite picnic (literally spread out on Tonet’s kite bag laid flat on the beach)… Sun, sand, social, good flying, good eats, good friends… Oooooo yeah, this was going to be a wonderful weekend!
A few more fliers appeared during the afternoon, but most started to arrive in the evening around dinnertime (hotel buffet again) and what started as a small group of folks having beers and coffee on the hotel terrace quickly grew into a long row of tables with a couple dozen fliers assembled, making new friends and greeting old ones… TK had gone back to our room earlier in the evening to recoup further, but at some point in the evening I looked up and there she was on the pool / patio area with an Indoor Rev, putting on a show for the growing crowd of fliers… Being unable to resist such a kiting siren, I dashed upstairs to get my own Indoor Rev for a little kite dancing with my sweetie – eventually offering the handles to some interested onlookers while others started to fly various types of zero wind gliders.
While this was indeed a Revoclinic, there were all kinds of interests represented among the attending Rev fliers… Many had dual line, single line, kite making and power kiting experience as well, so there was no lack of diversity – even with the primary focus being on Revs for this fine weekend in March, there is no kiting exclusivity in Gandia!
Saturday, Mar 3rd
As the clinic got rolling, flier after flier arrived to set up for the days activities and focus groups… Fliers were divided into Novice, Intermediate and Master groups for presentations and coaching on handling equipment, flying techniques and more.
While Polo worked with the Experts on the north side of the field, I gravitated toward the novices on the south side to observe and facilitate where I could – with a wide variety of models and a few homemade kites, the initial focus for the Novices was standardizing their set up methods, line management and other basics… The instructor had this pretty well in hand, so I just made a point of wandering around and working with the folks who weren’t necessarily “in the middle of it” getting instruction.
While the breezes on Thursday and Friday were off the ocean and quite nice, Saturday morning saw the winds turn 180 degrees to come over the multi-level hotels and made for some seriously up and down, turbulent conditions… While certainly not ideal for the Novice fliers, additional introduction to tuning, line equalization and line tension gave them enough to chew on where improvement was evident with almost everyone by the end of the day and spirits were very high.
In the early afternoon, we broke for lunch and typically in the USA we might typically take a lunch for an hour or so, often on the field… At the Revoclinic, everyone packed up completely and gathered at a restaurant just 3 blocks away for a traditional and DELICIOUS meal of antipasto and chicken paella and then ice cream and coffee, possibly an hour and a half of great food, conversation and fun before finally headed back out to the beach for another round of flying and workshops.
One of the really cool and innovative things that came out of last years Revoclinic was the implementation of a simple 4-person routine designed by Imagina, flown by multiple 4-person teams simultaneously… A practical exercise in team choreography, routine building and actual execution that is attainable, and looks really brilliant in duplicate!
Sadly, the video of this performance from last year is blocked to us on YouTube due to music copyright but it was interesting to note that the whole concept was provocative enough that fliers in Hokkaido, Japan implemented the same routine in group fashion – shown below.
Once more, fliers gathered during the 2012 Revoclinic for some stick practice on the same 4-person routine created by Imagina… However with it getting late in the afternoon, everyone finally broke to get cleaned up and fed before gathering in one of the hotel meeting rooms for a meeting and topic workshops.
As the General Manager at Revolution Kites and an avid flier himself, Ben Dantonio expressed the company’s appreciation for the Revoclinic, team Imagina gave a very well structured overview on developing and choreographing a routine, Fernan of Team Bolau gave a presentation and introduction to the various types of team flying (normal, mega, grid), and I gave a presentation on “Team Philosophy” (band dynamics, goal setting, mindset, etc) by sharing some of the insights I’ve gained over my own experience on six teams, particularly during our 5 years with iQuad. Deepest thanks to Pedro Gonzalez for translating both my words and sentiments, I’d have been utterly ineffective without his help.
To close out the evening, a whole bunch of prizes were randomly drawn for Revoclinic registrants… Several kites, spars, handles, shirts and more were donated by Revolution, KiteParts.net, Kitelife.com, Polo Kites and Los Hermanos – thanks to them, and the host sponsor (Team Bolau) there were lots of happy faces!
Sunday, Mar 4th
On the morning of our final day, the unfortunate wind direction sustained off the building albeit with slightly higher gusts… Before the clinic started, I wandered out to the water’s edge for a solid hour of water flying over the ocean, as its always nice to get a little “me time” on the lines!
The 4-person team routine assembled by Imagina proved to be a little more challenging with 5-6 teams making the attempt simultaneously in those very turbulent conditions… Regardless, there were a couple of of good flights despite the poor winds.
After the 4-person practice, fliers also attempted a 4×4 grid of 16 pilots and the leadership of Fernan and Giuseppe, with support from Tonet… The results were mixed with hovering being very difficult in the highly variable winds, definitely some practice to be done with keep everything in motion – thereby stabilizing the kites – but all in all, it was a valiant attempt.
As the grid broke down into smaller groups and individuals, I took a class of Novices to the south end of the beach to discuss some of the dynamics involved with the wind conditions they were facing… Sadly, time was very limited before we had to break for lunch but we managed to cover a lot of topics and folks seemed genuinely stimulated by some of the ideas presented.
Another final lunch of Paella together, we gave out another batch of prizes donated by Kitelife including a ready to fly B-Series package and one year subscription, all three of which went to lady pilots by random number drawing… The recipient of the B-Series was an official attendee, but didn’t yet own a Rev so it was very appropriate to enable another flier.
I’d like to extend heartfelt congratulations to the principle organizers of this event, Fernando, Teresa, Tonet, Pedro and Esteban… It takes a great attendance and sense of family to make a great event happen, but it wouldn’t happen without the spirit and vision to create such an event in the first place… And of course, those organizers couldn’t do it without the support of their volunteers, Ana (bilbao), Pablo (Lau), Jose Luis, Antonio, Ruben, Jose (primo Tonet) and Pelao (Pepe), as well as members of the teams who shared their knowledge during the event (Imagina, Mistral, Vientosur, Volant al vent, Bolau and iQuad).
After experiencing the passion and enthusiasm, along with the countless wonderful characters in Gandia, it was truly a bittersweet departure… Nice to go home after such traveling, but sad to leave so many new friends.
But, there’s always next year!!
See you on the beach,