The Lewis and Clark Exposition sponsored by Wind Dancer Kites of Seaside is usually a small quiet one-day sport kite competition with clear skies and very light winds. This year started out different however. The weather forecast called for a increasing winds and rain, the high protecting the Washington and Oregon coasts for several months was finally moving east, removing the sunny skies and giving us some much needed rain.
With the predicted rough weather conditions, the competition did not get off to a good start. The field and sound equipment didn’t arrive on time. Just before the pilot’s meeting, the people with the equipment called with the bad news they hadn’t left home yet and would be a good 3 hours late.
Cal Yuen, chief judge, stepped up to the plate and organized events around the late arriving sound system. The group there came up with an improvised field (banners and banner poles with bamboo stakes from the local discount hardware store and the ever present string to cordon off the field).
The event started pretty close to on time. Traditionally, NWSKL (NorthWest Sport Kite League) starts out with Master’s Individual precision. At first the predicted wind seem to have visited somewhere else, it was the old Seaside “barely move the banner wind”. The first competitors were flying on SUL’s and UL kites. By the end of MIP (10 fliers), the wind had picked up to vented weather. With the new scoring system, that ate some time while waiting for the sound equipment to show up. Reid Wolcott won first place, with Team Sixth Sense teammates Scott Davis and Wayne Turner taking second and third place respectively. Scoring nine or more fliers with the key elements scored separately took almost 2 hours.
Quadline precision picked up more competitors in the Northwest. A year ago, there would be one or two competitors (both in the Master’s Class), now there are four Experienced fliers. Alan Cunningham of Arlington Oregon won first. Wayne Turner, a member of team Sixth Sense and a very good Master Dual Line flier, was second. Jamie Landers (age 14) of Wenatchee, Washington (Central Washington area) beat his grandfather Jim Landers.
The NorthWest is fortunate in attracting new fliers. We had four compete in Novice Precision at Seaside. Alan Cunningham won first honors at NIP, Jamie Landers was second, Brian Davis (age 13) was third. Moon Kushner also flew and worked hard at making sure the others won their scores by flying their best.
One of the fliers, who is taking this year off for health reasons, was worried there would not be any quadline fliers. He will rest easier knowing his quadline discipline has 5 new Experienced fliers and several of his buddies from the Master class are giving the rest of us dual liners a show. Master’s Quadline Ballet was represented by a flier we haven’t seen in a while, Larry Clark from southern Oregon. It was nice to see Larry fly again and hope we will see more of him. Penny Lingenfelter was in attendance but did not compete, and instead was giving some color to sky outside of the competition ring as well as teaching people how to fly on her Revolution.
The wind was building and now fine sand was blowing to a height of 6 or 7 feet, which was burying kite bags if you looked away for too long! This was definitely not the light Seaside breezes we have come to expect. The wind was blowing in from the SW and bouncing off the the sea wall and adjacent buildings which made flying quite a challenge.
As pairs precision fliers went out to test their mettle against the winds, R.A.W. Power (Rick and Reid Wolcott) considered super vent North Shore Radicals to fly their precision but instead went with their vented Next’s. R.A.W. Power showed they still had confidence and control to take first despite the inclement weather. Fly by Night (Daniel Haigh and Bill Rogers) took out the vented Mambas for a second place finish, Lisa and Bud Root showed that retirees can still have the mettle to give the younger guys a hard time, taking third as the pairs team, was Wing ‘N It, flying Pizazz Pluses.
After getting beat up in precision, the Pairs fliers went out to fly in Ballet. The wind was coming up, blowing the sound back into the speakers making it difficult for the fliers and judges to hear the music. R.A.W Power flew their new routine to a medley of Oklahoma. They flew to a nice first completing their sweep of pairs competition. Fly by Nite decided it was getting close to Christmas by flying to a carol rendered by the TranSiberian Orchestra garnering a nice second place finish. Wing ‘N It flew to appropriate music, The Stripper, to show a very nice third place finish. The wind was giving a good rendition of blowing the clothes off, might as well have the right music to get in the mood.
The Experienced Pair Ballet was represented by Chaos Effect and their attention grabbing music. Chaos Effect (Alan Cunningham and Kyle Wright) played with words to their music and played with their spotters, too by simulating a crash when the words, “I can’t get up” are played.
The wind was building, banner poles were starting to snap. One of the fliers for Experienced Individual Ballet called for a wind check. The wind meter showed sustained winds over 29 mph. A one hour wind break was called.
After one hour the winds had dropped below a sustained 28 mph, so we flew Experienced Individual Ballet. The sand was still blowing, giving the kites a dusty sand patina. Don Ostey was certainly happy to have his vented Mamba to win first place. Jim Landers took out his trusty Pizazz to win second place. Linda Hayes battled the wind with a Pizazz kite to win third. The judges, audience, and other fliers were treated to a show the other 5 fliers gave in that class.
It was almost 5, the skies were ominously dark, and an indoor kite fly was planned, so it was decided to call it a day and start again, on time, Sunday morning. Before we could escape the beach after breaking down the fields and loading equipment, the heavy rains started drenching the fliers and the sand.
Before the wind break was called, it was evident we were going to fly competition on Sunday, too (scheduled as a fun fly). Most people were staying over anyway but others had to scramble to find a room. In a tourist town after Labor Day weekend you would think it would be easy to find a hotel/motel room. Wrong. There is an antique car rally the same weekend in Seaside, so all of the rooms were booked. Some people drove the 45 minutes to stay in Long Beach WA, or 90 minutes to Portland OR, and others just drove back home and drove back the next day.
Sunday morning didn’t look much better weather wise. A few sprinkles had started to fall, creating craters in the sand, but did do a good job of keeping the sandstorm down. The wind was at least lighter, with most fliers using standard kites on light lines or UL’s on heavy lines.
We started out Master’s Individual Ballet with a field of 10 people. The wind was starting to show signs of building again between the pilot’s meeting and the start of competition 15 minutes later. Reid Wolcott flew a spirited routine with his Next kite to a first place which completed his sweep of masters dual line, Jim Soellner took out his Mamba to win second and Bill Rogers showed how his Mamba could give Reid a run for his money by placing in third place.
The Experienced fliers were treated to lighter (well sort of, the winds were about 10-13 mph compared to the 25+ of the day before) to fly their precision moves. Don Ostey is showing he can become a fine precision flier by taking first place again on his second try at precision. Andrew Cimburek got the Shiva carving those figures for a nice second place showing. Willy Hendrickson took out his Tramontana for a good solid third place. There were 6 fliers in this class and they did not make it easy to choose the winners, all flew nicely in the stiff winds.
The Novice Ballet fliers came out to show how they could make the kites dance in the wind. We had 5 fliers compete, Jamie Landers flew Grandpa Jim’s Pizazz to a first place. Alan Cunningham’s performance won him second place. Moon Kushner took out a Shiva to place third. Brian Davis had been given a song about a boy called Brian by another friend and all enjoyed the music. Kyle Wright took out his E2 to show it could dance to a different drummer and still have fun.
The Experienced quadline fliers flew a wide variety of music, Alan Cunningham again took first honors in quadline ballet. Jim Landers went out to dance with his kite to a second place. Moon Kushner made her kite get with the beat to a nice third place. Wayne Turner and Jamie Landers gave a tough fight to the other three.
The winds are up and down calling for vented kites one minute and two minutes later, UL’s. The two teams are starting to butt heads in the rivalry for AKA Nationals at the end of the month. In precision, the boys of Team Cutting Edge (Rick Wolcott, Jim Barber, and Jerry Cannon) flew clean figures and a nice routine to take a clear first from the girls of MVM (Marcia Cannon, Vicki Casal, and Mary Bos).
Ballet comes up with the discussion, why does the computer seem to pick Cutting Edge to fly first? In this case it did not prove to be an advantage. Team Cutting Edge had changed their routine slightly and the winds overpowering the kites gave MVM an edge to take first. One of the Cutting Edge team members claims a someone (not on MVM) gave him a mascot before the competition and he absentmindedly stuck it in his pocket. It should be noted this mascot is the mascot MVM uses as their voodoo totem for Team Cutting Edge (all in good fun of course).
Everyone stayed to help take down and talk about who was going when to Whidbey Island. Others talked about their departure times for Nationals and where to meet back in Dayton. While others waited to find out the scores and who won a particular class. The Hayes (Bud, Linda, Kirstie, and Chelsey) handed out the awards and hugs under clearing skies.