Competition, is it time to MIX it up?
To provide a small disclaimer, this article is written from the viewpoint of a “lifer” in the kiting community, and that of someone who spent the better part of his 35 years on earth involved in sport kite competiton, both dual and quad line kites… It’s more than simple recreation for me so these days, most of my focus is on outwardly promoting kiting and making new kite fliers.
My thoughts are of course subject to my own set of personal experiences, and I realize that the sentiments which I’ll share through the length of this article may or not be ultimately correct… However, I feel it’s important to share my basic history in sport kite competition to give some insight into the basis, and where my passions stem from in this area of kiting.
My competition years:
1990: OTB, EPP, EPB
1991: EIB, EIB
1992: EIB, EIB, OQB, OIOU
1993: MIP, MIB, OQB, MTP, MTB
1994: MIP, MIB, OQB, EPB
1995: MIP, MIB, OQB
1996: MIP, MIB, MTP, MTB
1997: MIP, MIB, MQB, MPB, MTP, MTB
1998: MIP, MIB, MQB
2001: MIP, MIB, MQP, MQB, OIOU
2002: MIP, MIB, MQP, MQB, EPP
2003: Attended, but did not compete
2004: MIP, MIB, MQB
2005: MIP, MIB, MQP, MQB, OIIU, OIOU, ETP, ETB
2006: MIP, MIB, MMP, MMB, OIIU, OIOU, EPP, EPB, MTP, MTB, OTMP, OTMB
2007: MIP, MIB, MMP, MMB, OIIU, MPP, MPB, OPMP, OPMB, MTP, MTB, OTMP, OTMB
2008: MIP, MIB, MMP, MMB, OPMP, OPMB
You can find additional statistics and my various “working” roles here.
I took a 2-year break from kiting in 1999 and 2001, resuming in 2002… On an idefinite hiatus from competition at present, my most recent competitions were in multiline (i.e. quad) ballet and precision at the 2008 AKA Grand Nationals in Gettysburg PA… Since then, I’ve been doing exhibitions and workshops only.
The “good old days”
When I started, it was quite common to see between 40-60 individual competitors signed up in any given category at popular competitions, flying in 2-3 heats of 14-18 pilots from which the top four would move on to the finals where they’d need to fly their routines again for final ranking and awards… Registration fees averaged between $50 and $100, providing entry into the competition, a pin, t-shirt and a good-sized banquet where the winners would receive a meal, trophies, plaques or other similar and sizable awards (sometimes a kite to go with it)… While they weren’t common, there were even the occasional cash prizes (maybe $50 for 1st place).
“National” level event in 1992, scores from SKQ:
(full SKQ PDF archives can be found here)
From this particular event, my first as an individual:
Experienced Individual Precision – 50 competitors
Experienced Individual Ballet – 38 competitors
Masters Individual Precision – 38 competitors
Masters Individual Ballet – 23 competitors
6 Experienced Teams
9 Masters Teams
No less than 88 competitors, simply tallying the number of competitors between Experienced and Masters Precision alone… Add in a few more who were flying team, but not as individuals.
Many of those driving the sport at this time were baby-boomers, just in their 30’s and 40’s, bringing all the creativity and excitement that came along with their cultural revolution(s) and experiences… A natural fit with kiting, a generation that was perfectly happy to skip through the daisies and try new things without fear of looking silly.
New categories were being created all the time such as Innovative (later called Freestyle, now called Outdoor Unlimited), Pairs (they used to fly under the team category) and Team Train (as stack teams like the Windjammers and Sundowners were suffering low scores in favor of single delta wing teams)… Dual line team events were seeing anywhere between 8-12 entries and often as many as a dozen pairs teams, yes… Yes, that’s over 20 combined pairs and teams per event, some of whom were “pick up” teams or pairs made up of individuals who joined together on the spot just because they wanted to fly in another category.
Watching the Innovative category, one might see just about anything… Multiple-kite-flying (Ray Bethell), dogstaking (Lee Sedgwick), flying off a guitar (Pete Dolphin), patriotic flags released from pouches using velcro on the back of a kite (Ted Dougherty), flying from a unicycle (David Brittain) and just about anything else you can think of… It was funny at times, occasionally downright weird, but people were trying new stuff almost continuously and others were picking it up, evolving it and applying it in new ways.
We had so many competitors, cottage kite manufacturers and enthusiasts at each event that there were actually a number of dedicated full time judges and those competitors who had sufficient experience were assigned 2-3 judging slots over the course of the event, leaving the better part of each day for practice, actual competition and other activities… There were also fairly regular shadow judging or workshop opportunities for those interested in getting involved.
Scores in most cases, were posted as they were tabulated… Flight orders would be posted at a central location (as they are today) but fliers would frequently gather around them waiting for individual scores to be written up as they became available, creating a high level of excitement as pilots would climb or drop in the overall results with the addition of each score, including the top three winners (no TBA or “To Be Announced” where the top three names are hidden)… These scores in turn would often be announced periodically throughout the day over the PA, again creating excitement and friendly rivalry between competitors on the field.
Additionally, there were quite often anywhere from 6-8 fliers who were seriously in the running to take top three at any given event… A few were dominant with consistent top three rankings, but there was a very healthy number of highly skilled pilots all at a similar level.
American Kite Magazine was running it’s AKM National Circuit where competitors would earn points based on their final placings at each sanctioned event… AKM would recognize “National” and “Regional” events, based most often on the size and draw of the event, with Nationals awarding a greater number of points (20 for 1st place) for each placing than Regionals (10 points for 1st place)… And one event per year would receive the AKM title of “All American” where an even higher number of points would be given (30 points for 1st place), all of which accumulated throughout the year into a final national ranking.
Examples from AKM, final rankings from 1992 and 1997:
(obviously, these two issues are shown for sentimental reasons)
Both the AKA and AKM had separate competition committees made up mostly of active judges and competitors, all of whom were generally respected amongst thier peers, at least for their collective knowledge and experience in kiting competition.
Travel and Special Recognition
At the time, competitors were traveling regularly across the US and it was common to see many of the top names like Scott Aughenbaugh, Team High Performance, Dodd Gross, Ron Reich and Team Top Of The Line (TOTL) at a dozen or more events nationwide over the course of a year, specifically travling to key events around the country, duking it out for the final, accumulative National Champion titles awarded by American Kite Magazine… Out of those most active competitors, two special awards were given by their peers… Rising Star for Experienced Class individuals (a bit like “Rookie of the Year” in Major League Baseball) and Outstanding Flyer for Masters Class individuals (like MVP), both of which often resulted in the flier being interviewed and published in the magazine.
At the time, we had three full time PRINTED color publications (AKM, Stunt Kite Quarterly or “SKQ”, Kite Lines) and the AKA’s [then black and white] Kiting publication… These served to promote the sport and community with regular and prolific kite reviews, flier interviews, “how to” articles and much, much more… Aspiring fliers like myself would be on the edge of their seat waiting for the next issue to come out so we could read about our idols, see what was new and exciting from manufacturers, catch up on competition results from events around the country, follow the national circuit, or to see your own results and quotes as one would move up through the ranks.
Stunt Kite Quarterly published its last issue in the Spring of 1993, American Kite Magazine stopped publication with their Winter 1999 issue and Kite Lines closed their doors in the Winter of 1999 as well… A few other folks tried to start up magazines in their wake but none lasted more than a few years, primarily due to lack of subscriptions, the increased use of Internet and waning content submissions, the American Kite Circuit was no more and folks were traveling less and less.
Three years before AKM’s national rankings came to an end, the AKA started their regional ranking system in 1996 due to a slightly different organizational agenda and their committee desire to become more involved in sport kite competition.
At the moment…
Flash forward to today, sport kite competition still exists throughout North America (only 1-3 per year in Canada) and there are still dozens of hard core folks nationwide who attend their regional events with some regularity, those who pursue and follow the competitions still enjoy it… If its your cup of tea, you’re more than likely to find it stimulating, especially if you are a beginning or intermediate pilot and are still working on your skill set – there is so much to be learned on the competition field!
But, more than a few things have changed…
Registration fees are down to around $25-$35, with occasional ala carte $5 increases per category… In return, folks receive entry into the competition, access to a pot luck or dutch dinner and while there are exceptions, in most cases the top three winners receive a small medal, or more often, a printed paper certificate.
Where we used to have 18 competitors for an individual category in the early 90’s, we’re down to 5-10 these days… Sampling from the AKA’s 2010 results, our three best attended competitions were WSIKF in Washington, East Coast SKC in New Jersey and Old Dominion SKC in Virginia, each of the three with 31 total competitors across all categories.
Here’s an over-simplified breakdown of the largest categories from those three events:
East Coast SKC – Wildwood, NJ
9 – Masters Multiline Ballet (MMB)
7 – Masters Individual Ballet (MIB)
9 – Open Indoor Unlimited (OIIU)
Other categories, an average of 1-4 competitors each, 4 Novices.
WSIKF – Long Beach, WA
7 – Experienced Multiline Ballet (EMB)
7 – Masters Individual Ballet (MIB)
10 – Open Indoor Unlimited (OIIU)
Other categories, an average of 1-3 competitors each… 5 Novices.
Old Dominion SKC – Richmond, VA
6 – Masters Multiline Ballet (MMB)
6 – Masters Individual Ballet (MIB)
Other categories, an average of 5 competitors each… 5 Novices.
Here is the full breakdown for 2010 events, courtesy of the AKA…
Now I’d consider these three competitions (and a few others) to be roaring successes given the current state of things… Clearly, it speaks measures for the communities and organizational bodies who organize and particpate in these events, truly.
My focus however is not on these “highlight” events, it’s on the average competition, and where we’re missing the boat on attracting fliers both from our non-competitive group, but also from the general spectating public.
I’m not finger-pointing in any way, there really isn’t any to be done – for the most part, we’re seeing the result of a few primary economical and sociological dynamics that have changed a whole lot since the early 90’s.
Of course, the Internet takes a share of responsibility for decreased event participation, as folks can have YouTube videos, tutorials (yeah yeah – I know) and so much more delivered to their living room… Folks don’t really need to travel to see what’s new, watch competition routines or to learn that new trick.
My goal here is simply to outline as many of the various facts and dynamics as possible for an honest overview of the current state of affairs in competition… To give a forward and back view with as much comparative as possible in an attempt to incite, provoke and stimulate further discussion, all in the interest of evolving and finding a new success if there is any to be had for those who are interested.
We’re seeing so few new competitors as Novice and Experienced class categories are becoming increasingly light in participants… Also with the lower overall numbers, there are less experienced people available to staff the comps (judging, field director, pit boss, scoring, announcing) with all-day judging sessions becoming increasingly common for many of the folks who have paid for registration, gas or plane, hotel, food and other expenses to spend 3-4 hours out of the day working in exchange for their 10-15 minutes of competition.
My primary issue with this is the fact that so much time is capitalized on with the process, when we could be using some of that time to reach out to onlookers and mentor or encourage beginning fliers outside the 300×300 field.
We also have very, very few teams left, and fewer still who would consider themselves to be serious… At risk of repeating a couple of points from my last article, here is the 2010 roster of teams in all six conferences:
Northwest – 1 Masters team (10+ years), no Experienced teams.
Pacific – 1 Masters team (10+ years), no Experienced teams.
Central – No teams in either class.
MidWest – 1 Masters team (20+ years), 1 Experienced team.
Northeast – 1 Masters team (5+ years), no Experienced teams.
Southeast – No Masters team, 2 Experienced Teams.
That’s a total of 4 Masters Teams and 3 Experienced Teams, 7 altogether… Only one of them has represented the US in World Championship competition during the past 10 years.
On another note, we’re also not seeing many workshops being presented at competitions… Whether it be on judging, precision, choreography or whatever else related to competition… I know there have been active mentoring efforts in the Southeast region where new fliers are partnered up with masters pilots so they can learn more about various aspects, and I think this shows in their overall participation level and degree of socialization between competition events.
Events still post their flight orders in a central area, but scores are posted all together once the entire category has been completed and tabulated, with the top three names hidden (To Be Announced) until the awards ceremony… Sure, it creates a different level of excitement as opposed to posting flier-by-flier, but the audience (when there is one) has no idea who has won or is in the running.
One might argue that the audiences are so thin, that there’s no point to posting scores on the fly… But it all depends on how you see sport kite competition in its current form versus how it could be with the right presentation, real time scoring (or close to it) is one small part of the package.
There is no national ranking, nor could there really be one due to our current economics in North America and the enormous expense involved in traveling to pursue a national title.
The AKA’s regional ranking system continues today (2005-present ranking) and is the only one of its kind in North America other than the three active leagues which are in operation today… The Eastern League (EL), Bay Area Sport Kite League (BASKL) and Northwest Sport Kite League (NWSKL)… BASKL and NWSKL were created to help fill a void in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northwest USA respectively, to provide a body through which competitions could be organized, promoted and structured… The EL was already in place in the early 90’s, and still provides regional ranking for the entire east coast… There was also the SoCal Sport Kite League in southern California for a few years, but it collapsed due in part to political turmoil.
All of the league ranking is based loosely on and comes from same results that are used for the AKA regional ranking, while their events are sanctioned by the AKA, the league standings are independent of the AKA’s regional rankings.
The AKA’s current Sport Kite Committee (AKASKC) is composed of FOURTEEN or so voting members, but it’s interesting to note that ELEVEN of them did not compete in 2010 according the AKA’s list of 2010 competitors… This means that only 3-5 of the AKASKC (depending on how many committee members can vote) are actively competing, and a small number of them aren’t even attending competitions with any regularity… Also of interest, almost every single AKASKC member has been flying for 10+ years, placing their start time in organized sport kiting at 2000 or earlier, no new faces… Of course, this mostly due to the reduced number of new competitors and the lack of new faces are willing to step up and get involved at this level.
Another point of note, to the best of my knowledge, the current Chair (leadership) of the AKASKC hasn’t attended a competition outside of their region (with the exception of AKA Nationals) in at least a few years, which greatly limits their “real time” understanding of what is happening across the country… They rely solely on the reports of the other regional representatives on the committee (as described above), giving a somewhat myopic and heavily historical viewpoint.
Granted, there isn’t anything we can do in broad strokes given the circumstances and economics, we’re doing what we can with what we have, and every single member of the AKASKC was put there for good reason based on experience, and even more so, on their willingness to do a job few others volunteer for… Big picture though, I feel it is worthwhile to understand the various pieces of this puzzle, in order to gain a broader perspective on competition as a whole.
2010 AKA Grand Nationals (AKAGN)
The AKAGN is our national championships for sport kite competition, it’s the “best of the best”, all fliers who qualified through the AKA’s regional ranking from competitions throughout the season and have accepted the invitation to compete at Nationals.
Here’s the break down of what we’ll be seeing at AKAGN this year:
|Novice individual pilots (TOTAL)||6|
|Experienced dual line competitors||4|
|Experienced multiline competitors
(2 also competing in Experienced dual line)
|Experienced individual pilots (TOTAL)||10|
|Masters dual line competitors
(1 competing in Experienced multiline, 3 in Masters multiline)
|Masters multiline competitors
(3 competing in Masters dual line)
|Masters individual pilots (TOTAL)||16|
|Indoor competitors (TOTAL)
(all 7 are flying in outdoor events as well)
|Experienced dual line teams (TOTAL)||1|
|Masters dual line teams (TOTAL)||2|
|Experienced dual line pairs (TOTAL)||2|
|Masters dual line pairs (TOTAL)||1|
|Open pairs multiline (TOTAL)||3|
32 individuals (dual, quad, indoor and outdoor unlimited)
3 dual line teams
3 dual line pairs
3 multiline pairs
|Individuals||Pairs (dual line)||Pairs (multiline)||Teams (dual line)|
These totals are subject to possible calculation errors and do not reflect Outdoor Unlimited or Team Train events (sorry), but you can find and review the full confirmed roster on the AKA web site – CLICK HERE
All this is primarily for an overview, I’m not getting at anything here… Just got carried away with looking at the break down and thought I’d share it, for those who are interested.
There may be a critical line of questioning here:
Holistically speaking, are you as a competitor happy with the group mood and feeling on the field, the number of participants, the current workload, and how your time is used during each competition day?
Think long term, dare to dream with common sense, and take into account whether or not you’re one of those drafted for the essential organizational aspects like judging, field directing, pit boss, etc… Weigh in your own degree of experience or skill as a flier, your tenure, judging, disciplines (dual/quad/pairs/team) as a competitor and consider how they effect both your understanding and priorities in sport kiting.
There’s no attack on anything here, and I may have missed quite a few marks in this article, could be… But essentially, my goal is to promote outside the box thinking in an attempt to see if we can evolve our format and the way it’s presented to the general public in attempt to make life easier for judges and competitors alike, as well as to attract more new participants.
A few discussion topics to start with…
The Precision quandry
Often times, when folks are discussing a lack of public interest in sport kite competition, they refer heavily to precision events.
Most often, and accurrately so, precision is described as terribly boring for spectators… The pilots go through their compulsories and freestyle routines in silence, with almost no announcer activity over the sound system, leaving little context with which the audience can understand and connect with what’s happening on the field.
One of the occasional debates is regarding whether or not the announcer should talk during the precision events when it’s being held on a main field… One school of fliers feels that it would be distracting to the competitors… Another school (myself included) says SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP, that announcers should be using that “radio silence” instead to educate the spectators, describe the compulsories, talking about the difficult aspects of each one, generally sharing the insights that make sport kite flying interesting.
Many successful individual performance sports have an announcer calling the play by play, generating a little excitement and giving insights into what’s happening… The comptitors have evolved to deal with it, either focusing their attention soley onto what they’re doing (ignoring the chatter) or using it as an energy source and playing up to the audience.
So this prompts a critical question, do we preserve the comfort of the few and continue to forsake the public, or do we force the fliers to evolve and ignore the announcer while we busy ourselves with drawing new potential fliers out of the audience?
For Novice class fliers, I can fully appreciate that they don’t need the added stress of ongoing commentary… On the whole though, with other categories, I feel it’s a greatly missed opportunity for us to reach out.
I’m not really certain what the answer is on this topic, but it may be worth discussion.
In my last comp season (2008) in the NWSKL, it was common to see quite a few of the attending competitors on judging or field director duties for the better part of each competition day… I’m pretty sure it’s still roughly the same, and while I appreciate the fact someone has to do this work, it still has some other effects which warrant consideration.
This leaves many of our best and most knowledgeable performers locked into the 300×300 field without a kite for most of the day, so they aren’t able to fly on the sidelines or perform for the audience which we in theory, would like to recruit as new fliers… These pilots might have 10-20 minutes of competition time during which they can exhibit their skills (but not teach), and quite often, their competition time isn’t even at “high noon” when the most spectators might be watching.
Coming to events time after time and putting in this kind of effort is taxing after a while, especially after what is often a considerable expense to be there and relatively little if any tangible return… I’ve seen even the most stalwart competition-goers become jaded, and are more likely to fade away or lose their passion which is so important for the newcomers.
The primary consideration for my leaving competition in 2008 was simply being unable to wander the field or put on exhibitions for the general public and assist upcoming fliers, or not being able to fly team for fun… I saw immeasurable lost opportunity with regard to promotion and outreach, so since leaving competition, I’ve been focusing entirely on public outreach as well as an ongoing effort to educate and socialize the quad line community.
This approach isn’t unique to the quad line community at all, and while it may appear one-sided on my part, I also look forward to reapplying myself to the dual line community in years to come… Whether you know me well enough to understand my greater sentiments, it’s difficult to argue against the fact these efforts have been working very well with a great many new fliers coming into the scene as of late, most of whom are interacting as a cooperative, global community.
But I digress… All things considered, it seems to me that we’re using a competition format that was created for a larger body of participants… It’s high time we look not at merely preserving competition (retention), but evolving it to maximize the benefit and enjoyment for all concerned (expansion)… Competitors, audience, staff, event sponsors, everyone.
Should we MIX it up?
At the moment, we run what is essentially two main categories, Ballet and Precision… Ballet is a natural, the audience gets it… Precision on the other hand, on which I shared my sentiments earlier in this article, leaves the audience bored and baffled.
There is the set up time, scheduling, field space requirements, and a minimum amount of staff for both categories in several skill levels… Even if we implemented “League Style” precision again, it would only save us a nominal amount of time and reintroduces the whole problem of judges looking away to write a compulsory score amidst an ongoing routine which is also scored separately.
Now, what if we could reduce the total competition time up to 30%, dedicating the saved time and resources to actually enjoying the event, teaching others, learning, flying team, doing demonstrations, or reaching out to the audience and endearing them to sport kiting in general?
There is another available format which was recognized by the International Rule Book Committee (IRBC) when I was serving as an IRBC member several years ago, called MIX… This format in a nutshell, drops the precision freestyle, combining INDIVIDUAL ballet and precision categories into a single event where pilots fly their three compulsories and then their ballet with scores weighted as follows:
Compulsory 1 – 15% of total score
Compulsory 2 – 15% of total score
Compulsory 3 – 15% of total score
Ballet Routine – 55% of total score
Pairs and team events DO NOT use MIX format, they remain traditional.
You can see the the complete IRBC Rule Book for yourself, the reference to MIX format can be found on page 14 in version 2.4.
I was actually Chair of the AKA Sport Kite Committee at the time this format was introduced, but it was voted down by committee majority and was subsequently not used in AKA competition.
Per the AKA Appendix (version 2.6.3):
“The combining of precision and ballet into one discipline known as MIX will not be used in AKA competition. Precision and ballet will remain separate disciplines.”
You can find the complete archive of previous Rule Books here.
If I remember and understood accurately, one recurring sentiment with those who voted against it was more or less as follows:
“I first competed only as a ballet (or precision) flier, and if I had to enter both when first starting I probably wouldn’t have started competing at all… If we use MIX format, it would discourage new fliers from participating.”
My response to that, simply, is WHAT NEW FLIERS?
We have so few new fliers on an annual basis anyway… And with this in mind, I’d also argue that the format doesn’t really matter to prospective participants as long as it’s functional, they will evolve, as will competition itself.
Ladies and gentleman, what we’re using isn’t working… Those in favor of MIX generally agree that our current format is taxing in both time and resources, but most importantly, the system we’re using now is essentially guaranteeing that we’re unable to sufficiently display our best assets and leaves little time for social, promotional and educational efforts during the course of a competition week(end).
MIX format and time
If we switched to MIX format…
We’d eliminate all precision freestyle routines, 1-3 (average of two) minutes per competitor, plus allowed set up time, per class, per category… If we had only 5 competitors in Novice, 5 in Experienced and 5 in Masters, 15 total competitors and 3 judging panels, looking only at dual line, we’d save 30 minutes and another 20 minutes if we had just 10 multiline competitors… Not much so far, but it’s a start and there’s more to the big picture in terms of time saved, particularly as we start to see more than the 25 total competitors used in this example.
Adding compulsories just before ballet would increase the time for each ballet competitor by just over 5 minutes using the maximum allowed (45 seconds to FLY each compulsory, 45 seconds between each compulsory and 90 seconds between compulsories and ballet)… So each competitor would spend roughly 7-10 minutes on the field instead of their usual 5 minutes for ballet alone.
Seems like a lot perhaps, but here’s the caveat… We ALREADY spend 7-10 minutes for each competitor on the precision field, plus the time to transition between ballet and precision events (gathering judges on/off the field).
The simple version is that we do the compulsories and ballet the same as always, but now they’re back to back and we’ve freed up the entire block of time we currently use for precision freestyle.
It’s hard to guess exactly how much time would be saved, but let’s say it was just 1 hour a day… One, we have less “movement” to deal with between events as both judges as competitors, and two, we can dedicate that time to mentoring, team practice, workshops, demonstrations at “high noon”, etc.
Personally, if there was a way to compete without it taking me out of action for several hours each day of the event, I’d likely re-enter competition in both dual and quad line categories… At this point however, my #1 priority is having time at events to interact with the public and work with new fliers.
Under MIX format, a single final score is calculated based on the combined ballet and compulsory scores… This means an overall ranking that illustrates the best overall fliers, not just those who specialize in precision or ballet independently.
It also serves to drive more well-rounded practice and skill, as demonstrated by European pilots today who don’t receive individual precision or ballet awards, only overall.
For those regions or events who still want to distinguish between the two, it’s easy… Simply award based on all three score columns… Total for 3 compulsories, ballet, and the combined scores… For most events these days, it means printing just 3 more paper certificates per discipline.
Trial and application
Not sure if it’s a good idea? Fair enough… But I think it’s worth at least testing given the potential benefits… All organized competitions have the ability to structure their events however they want, as long as the rankings are reported as usual to the AKA.
So to make a trial run, the Chief Judge could simply drop precision freestyle (which they are able to do), then run precision (compulsories) and ballet for each competitor back to back using MIX score sheets… At the end, they can report the combined precision scores separately from ballet to AKA and hand out event awards either for both, or only as an overall.
In my opinion, it’s certainly worth a test, and it’s easy enough to do within any of the three leagues (BASKL, EL, NWSKL) at one of their events to both measure the actual time saved as well as to see how competitors respond to MIX format, and most of all, to see if folks rise to the occasion.
Taking a more active step, even if MIX was implemented nationwide by the AKA, we can change the rules on an annual basis! We did this when we tried league style precison some years ago, and eventually changed it back… Same thing applies here.
Irrelevent of everything, there’s no long term danger in trying MIX… The worst of it is there’s a bit of grumbling and any difficulty in learning something new, but even if it proves to be a waste of time, we as competitors and through our representatives on the AKASKC can revise our AKA competition Appendix at any time if the majority body says its really needed, and at least on an annual basis through “due process”, so we can always change the format again.
If nothing else and perhaps no matter what, the action, the simple movement of changing the sport kite competition format will incite people to move… To compete, to judge, to watch… Whatever, but I believe the concept of evolution (for better or worse in the short term) will generate new enthusiasm to improve and expand.
What does it all mean?
Competition will continue, regardless… It may be smaller these days, but I honestly don’t believe its in any pending danger of expiration.
Will we ever see 40-60 competitors for a single category again?
Maybe not, but my gut tells me that sport kite competition has stalled in its evolution and that we’re not trying anything new, sort of trodding along… I get the sense that many competitors don’t generally see kiting for what it could be, only what they think it is at present or what it used to be.
The thought I offer in closing, is the mentality of sport kite competition currently retentive or expansive?
I say try the left turns when we stall, find the way upward, be bold.
Until next time,
Knowing the above thoughts and sentiments represent the idea of a fairly significant change to sport kite competition, and whether you’re in agreement or have strong counterpoint thoughts and opinions, I encourage you to post in our discussion forum or write an article for us, tell our readers.
We’ll publish anything tastefully written, regardless of the expressed opinion… Give any additional or contradictory viewpoints that have been missed, call “bull” where it’s due, or elaborate on the topic to add your own experience and improve or stimulate the development of sport kite competition.