Okay, where to start with this one? Gosh, I don’t know. This is the very first time for this event, and I’ve kind of been into it from the gestation-point. So let’s start there…
I received a phone call from Theresa Norelius at The Kite Shop, saying, “I’m going over to the High School in Camus to see about a brand new competition event they’re willing to host over there. Want to go along?” Well, shucks. We always go to the same traditional events in the same places on roughly the same dates every year. But we hardly ever get invited to see the “birthing” of a new one… Sure, I’d tag along! Theresa was going as an Event Sponsor, and I’d go along as interested “press.”
So off we go into the toolies… Yeah, Camus is a nice small town about 12 miles east of Vancouver, Washington, which in turn is just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Yup – nested suburbs! And, after getting lost for a while, we find the High School – which reminds me of a college campus it’s so huge. We soon get to meet Mrs. Melanie Clark who is what we’d call a Home-Ec teacher, along with Bud and Linda Hayes, whose daughter Kristie is the President of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter (FLCCA) at the Camus High School. So after a whole lot of “organizational stuff,” we get a tour of the gyms (2) and the “Commons,” which is what we used to think of as our lunchroom back in the dark ages when my High School was a wide spot on the floor of a cave. Anyway, all these spaces will be available to all participants, and the FCCLA’s role is to act as “Sponsors,” ticket-sellers, and food vendors. We’ll get to all the scrumptious meals served later on, however…
And somewhere along the way here, the “Camus Indoor Kite Festival” was born. Well! This will be an interesting Indoor event, for certain. It seems like the plans (already well underway by the time we get involved) are for not one, but four (4), Indoor individual competition events. Each will run as a separate comp, and attendees will be paying entry fees for up to four events. Nope, you don’t HAVE to compete in all events, but you might as well since you’re gonna be there anyway – and the points will count toward your AKA rankings as if separate events had occurred – which they actually did!
Come November 3rd, competitors and associated friends and family members start rolling into town as if there was an indoor festival going on. Okay, I have to admit to a little doubt up until that point, but when folks from the far reaches start rolling into town and want to play in the gym(s) just to get a feel for the place, all doubts somehow get pushed aside. We had competitors from as far away as British Columbia and as far south as southern Oregon. WOW! We actually have something going, here… including 13 competitors!
Now I have to tell you something here, folks. It just DOESN”T feel like a kite-fest without at least a four hour road trip, followed by me dragging my pad and sleeping bag out of the van and requisitioning a hunk of floor to sleep on. So this CAN’T be a kite-fest, can it? I mean, the 15 miles of highway between here and there can’t be all there is… and sleeping in my own bed at night is just impossible if this is a real kite festival. But I am sleeping at home tonight… and it IS an honest-to-God kite-fest!
So the actual November 4th day of the Camus IndoorKite Festival arrived, and things started with an open “practice” floor in the main gym until the 9:30 Pilot’s meeting. It’s drizzling outside, of course (this being late Fall in the Pacific Northwest), and for once not a single pilot is whining about it. And then everyone congregates around Bob Wendt our Announcer/sound-guy, Mike Huff, the Festival’s Chief Judge, and Floor Director Todd Rudolph for the rules and definitions, and then we’re underway! Judges varied from competition to competition, though there were always at least five judges in the stands to score the participants in each competition. Good planning, organizers! We always like it when there are enough qualified judges so you can shift one or two of ‘em around.
Okay… We have a panel of judges. We have a pilot and a Floor Director. We have music… and we’re rollin’! And I discover that I’ve forgotten to grab a bite to eat today, so I wander out into the Commons and buy a bagel with cream cheese from one of the fine FCCLA girls. This quickly became a rather nice pattern. Hungry? Got a few minutes? Wander down the hall and have the nice ladies fix you something. No going outside. No trips downtown and waiting in line at the Golden Arches drive-thru. Yup – they even had coffee! It was VERY nice. And I’d love to report that I was their best customer, but I noticed quite a few other folks doing much the same thing. I’m afraid I was just one of the crowd.
And after a humble repast, it was up into the balcony… the WHAT? Yeah, this gym has a nice balcony running all the way around it looking straight down onto the gym floor. So I headed up there with the new camera for a bit of comp-shooting… and ran into another photographer up there! Well, she was younger and certainly prettier than I, but could she shoot? We both focused on the competition below (pun intended). After several pilots had performed, we finally got to yakking… It turns out that she was “on assignment” from the local paper – sorta – getting the weekend color and “activity” shots. And when I say “sorta” I mean she shoots photos on “spec” and if they get published, then she gets paid. And as it turns out, she did get paid, since she had the cover shot in the Sports section the next morning. Yup – a fine photo by Kristina Wright on Page C-1 of Sunday’s Columbian (Vancouver’s newspaper) showing Todd Rudolph flying John Barresi’s loaned Indoor Revolution.
So I shot photos for a while, then walked downstairs and shot a few more. And the next thing you know, the first Competition event was over! Yeah – just like that. All I’d done was eat a bagel, drink coffee, take photos from the balcony and the floor, yak with another photographer – and the first competition has ended already! Hey, this’s a piece of cake, gang. You CAN do a dozen competitors in two hours, and have some time left over if they’re any good.
“If they’re any good…” That’s an interesting phrase. If you’ve NOT been to an indoor event in a couple of years, you really aught to take one in, just to see it! I well remember the first Indoor fest I went to about three years ago… And that was back in the days when doing consistent indoor axels with a dualie would probably get you a top-three finish in most of the indoor competitions. But golly, are these indoor pilots struttin’ their stuff and showing some great flying these days. Fades and side-slides, of course. Up-n-overs. Indoor axels… Yeah, but with an Indoor Revolution? And roll-ups. Lazy Susans galore. Cometes, cascades, and flick-flacks too – and all manner of other moves. And pilots are still interpreting the music they’ve chosen, too! Nope – these indoor comps aren’t for the sissies anymore. Lordy, how these affairs have grown up! Yes, kites have been re-developed to enable these new moves, but mostly it comes down to pilots who’ve put in the time to learn the different capabilities of the kites and how to exploit them to their own advantage. And WOW is it ever interesting, and even exciting!
I won’t bore you with blow-by-blow accounts of these four separate competitions here. The results posted demonstrate the “reality” of the comps as far as scores and points go. But I will mention some things that I saw and thought that struck my fancy during the comps, okay?
COMP 1 – OIIU
1st John Barresi 82.710
2nd Jerry Cannon 81.730
3rd Tristan Underwood 80.660
4th Bud Hayes 77.870
5th Alan Cunningham 76.870
6th David Hathaway 75.230
7th Ray Underwood 74.430
8th Egan Davis 73.160
9th Scott Davis 72.900
10th Wayne Turner 72.610
11th Amy Doran 71.690
12th Jennifer Brown 66.870
In this first competition of the weekend, please note the range of the scores posted. Have you noticed that the top scores exceeded 80 points in all four events? Yes, the scores are accurate and the judges were experienced judges. It’s just that the routines flown were actually that good – and I think that’s pretty significant! Moreover, there’s pretty tight competition throughout the entire score range – also a good sign. Gone are the days when someone can walk in, throw a kite in the air, and be assured of top placement in the event. Gosh, is there heavy competition among these pilots!
And lots of variety too! I mean, Jerry Cannon flies‘em low and slow, and with incredible finesse moves. John Barresi likes to crank up some music and just “soul fly.” Alan Cunningham competes with single-line “bird” kites exclusively, and he does quite well with a fascinating routine. Scott Davis winds it up and lets it Rock! David Hathaway flies Indoor Revs and Rev 1.5s and does some really interesting stuff. They’re all very different fliers, with different kites and different “moves” in their repertories. And they compete as equals with whatever tools (kites) they’ve mastered. And gosh is it an exciting show!
Well enough! By now, we’ve had a couple of demos, including at least one from Penny Lingenfelter, and we’re all off on a lunch break. So we wander the 50 feet from the gym to the Commons, and have the nice FCCULA ladies prepare something just for us. My choice today happened to be the rice-bowl with chicken for a whopping $4.50 as I remember… Not only good stuff, but for a darned decent price, too! Then it’s over to the tables where all the rest of the assembled kiters are eating family-style. Gosh – you can’t beat that!
For those who’ve finished quickly, the gym’s open for a little practice before the next competitions begins. Yeah – we notice a number of good pilots out there fine-tuning their chops, but it isn’t long before 1:30 PM rolls around and it’s time for the next set of competitions to start… Yup – there they go, just like clockwork!
COMP 2 – OIIU
1st Tristan Underwood 89.167
2nd John Barresi 87.717
3rd Lam Hoac 87.417
4th Wayne Turner 80.233
5th David Hathaway 75.883
6th Jerry Cannon 74.767
7th Alan Cunningham 73.617
8th Ray Underwood 71.800
9th Bud Hayes 68.117
10th Scott Davis 68.083
11th Jennifer Brown 66.717
12th Amy Doran 65.600
13th Egan Davis DQ
Now if you’re really astute, you might be noticing a couple of patterns developing here. (What? After only two comps? Not hardly…) Well, maybe you’ve not noticed – but they’re there anyway. Those pilots who’re flying “clean” are surfacing at the top – consistently – and would stay that way throughout the weekend. So those who practice fairly regularly already have a “leg up” as they say.
Then, there’re some “names” here… Lam Hoac and John Barresi for at least two, and I think Jerry Cannon has done pretty well at Nationals in the Indoor over the years too. Well, if you’re a list-keeper, add another one to your list, will ya? The name is Tristan Underwood, and he’s going to be a good-un! Heck, he’s gonna be GREAT, because he’s already a darned fine pilot! And he’s only 10 years old! So if you’re a competitor who’s watching out there, beware when this kid takes to the floor (or the outdoor field). The kid’ll eat you alive if you don’t watch out.
All right, we’re done with the second AKA Sanctioned competition right on time here (A baker’s dozen pilots finish in just a little over two hours). Maybe we can do this “Hot Tricks” competition this afternoon. Sure enough, our announcer Bob Wendt has a pre-recorded CD all set to go so pilots gather, lists get made, pairs get matched, and we’re off and running in single elimination for the First Annual Camus Indoor Hot Tricks Championship. And what a competition it is too. These guys are pretty darned serious about this Hot Tricks stuff – and flying like it too. Well, in less than two hours, we had a Hot Tricks champion! Yep – that Underwood kid.
He beat John Barresi in the finals, and he did it mostly with snappy, well executed tricks performed with his Lam Hoac VIP – including a series of Lazy Susans that was absolutely astounding! I think there were something like 36 revolutions on that kite without stopping! Oh, and Egan Davis wound up in third place (…just so you know the “Top Three” in Hot Tricks).
Still, it got to be time for dinner, so we split into two groups – one bunch went out for Italian (Pizza) and the other went out for Vietnamese (Pho). Then it was home (How strange – you SURE this is a kite festival?) for me, and to check emails, and then to bed…
…only to get up and do it all over again the next morning! Yeah, coffee and bagel with cream cheese going in. I debated over the banana too, but opted for Not! No matter, though… Another practice time, followed by another Pilot’s meeting and we were soon into the comps again.
COMP 3 – OIIU
1st Lam Hoac 86.417
2nd Tristan Underwood 83.000
3rd Wayne Turner 82.433
4th Egan Davis 82.167
5th Alan Cunningham 78.600
6th Bud Hayes 78.483
7th Jerry Cannon 77.983
8th Scott Davis 76.850
9th Ray Underwood 75.650
10th John Barresi 69.533
11th Amy Doran 68.550
12th David Hathaway 65.817
13th Jennifer Brown 65.517
Nope – no real surprises today. Just darned good flying from a bunch of pretty good pilots! Mostly, this morning solidified places rather than showing any major jumps over people or slides into oblivion. And now quality of flying and practice-time began to show their stuff. Sure, there were changes in the order – that’s to be expected, but nothing major.
Two factors were cause for some concern, though. One was the judging. Now that judges had already seen a couple of iterations of a routine, would they mark it down (or up) because they’d already seen it twice? No – it didn’t appear so. Actually, the judging seemed rock-solid, and judges seemed to be focusing on execution and music interpretation, which this gym-side critic thought to be quite appropriate. The other factor of interest was any differences between scores if a competitor flew to several different pieces of music or used several different kites, or simply flew the one routine they brought with the one kite they had. Again – no apparent change showed. It seemed that basic pilot skill – music interpretation and execution – was the determining factor in the score. And there were not a lot differences in spite of the other variables.
Where we DID see changes is where competitors either “pulled one out” or “blew one,” and these were apparent to all concerned, not least of which were the pilots themselves. In short, there were no surprises, as we said before.
And before you knew it, we’d completed the third competition of the festival. Time for some more demos, and some more chow from the young ladies of the FCCULA. This time, it was a HUGE Baked Potato with ALL the trimmings – $3.50 gone and I was very well fed, thank you! A little practice, and then on to the last round of comps! This was getting to be a routine, now…
COMP 4 – OIIU
1st Tristan Underwood 89.850
2nd John Barresi 89.533
3rd Egan Davis 87.667
4th Jerry Cannon 83.433
5th Alan Cunningham 80.617
6th Wayne Turner 78.800
7th Scott Davis 77.533
8th Ray Underwood 76.883
9th Amy Doran 74.833
10th Jennifer Brown 68.050
11th David Hathaway 52.817
12th Bud Hayes DQ
Whew! WE DID IT! Four separate competitions in a single indoor festival. Who would have thunk it? (Well… somebody did!) And there were plenty of smiles regarding the accomplishments, and not very many frowns from those who didn’t measure up to their own expectations. Yes, everyone seemed to have fun and the competitions (and the back-and-forth banter) were lively. And above all, I’m reminded that these folks are, first and foremost – “family!” There’s nobody here who doesn’t enjoy this sport or doesn’t enjoy being among these people. It’s a good group that way – and a great sport, too!
And probably foremost among those who enjoyed themselves was Shannon Underwood! She is Ray’s wife and Tristan’s mother, and boy did she have a face full of GRIN! Following the last competition, Bob Wendt grabbed his microphone and walked out onto the floor with a fist full of score sheets and Theresa Norelius joined him with a fist full of medals. Together, they “medaled” the top-three finishers in all four comps, plus Hot Tricks. And Shannon was there, cheering for Tristan the entire way – and making all the other medalists wait while she took photos of ALL the top-three finishers, too.
So, lemme see now – how did Tristan Underwood do? THREE Gold medals (two comps, plus Hot Tricks) and one each Silver and Bronze (the other two comps). Yep – in the “Top Three” in every comp event of the entire weekend. Nope folks, it wasn’t “rigged.” That youngster really won all those medals on his own merit. And to do it, he’d bested John Barresi and Lam Hoac – two prior winners at AKA Grand National Indoor competitions! That’s pretty “heady” stuff for a 10-year-old, wouldn’t you say?
So what did we learn? What WAS astounding about this festival? Well, we learned that 1) New festivals can be well attended and be successful if organized correctly, 2) that it’s not only possible but viable as well to hold four (4) separate competitions on a weekend, and that 3) even strong Masters-level fliers (Hoac, Barresi) are within shooting range for those who’re willing to put in the time and put out the effort!
Thanks again to all the festival Sponsors, but especially Theresa Norelius of The Kite Shoppe (who raffled off a custom Indoor Revolution to help the cause) and those fine FCCULA kids from Camus High School under the tutelage of Mrs. Melanie Clark and who fed and helped “ticket” all the fest attendees! Bravo, young ladies!
That’s it from the Camus Indoor Kite Festival, folks. See you at the next one…
Fair Winds and Good Friends –