Issue 74: Washington State Intl Kite Festival (WSIKF)

Back to the Washington State International Kite Festival (WSIKF) one more time.

Yes, it’s the third week of August again, which means WSIKF (Pronounced “Wiss-Kiff” by the locals). So – even though I’ve been planning to attend for about six months, it’s a pleasure to finally be on the road again. And this time, I’d be joined by my friend LAlo Loescher, up to join us at WSIKF all the way from Buenos Aires, Argentina. And, if you’ve not had the experience (and I have not) attempting to help someone through the U.S. “Visa” process to obtain entry into the USA can be a harrowing experience. It can take a couple of months to obtain a Visa – which I suppose is a reasonable time-frame – just not particularly the one that we expect. Anyway – all that said, LAlo and I are finally here and on our way!

The trip to Long Beach is one I am so used to driving that it passes almost without my notice, but LAlo made several comments regarding the mountains, and the greenery, and the picturesque small towns and wide-spots-in-the-road, because this is his very first installment of “America” really… We also had the opportunity to shepherd Ben D’Antonio into Long Beach due to his non-functional GPS. We pull into the Long Beach, and LAlo finds out first-hand that the Pacific Ocean is really a lot of saltwater, with some wide sandy beaches. So? So I am intrigued to see my country through someone else’s eyes for a change… The entire week would have the occasional little “clues” regarding our differences, but LAlo quickly made his way into the group who would be staying in our condo unit for WSIKF week.

New this year, is all of the “activity” at the extreme southern end of the beach. iQuad has “Grown Up” on this beach, and has gone from an “upstart” and rather rag-tag bunch of individual Revolution pilots, to something approaching an international “Force” at this point. And the decision was made about a year ago that 2010 would be the year that iQuad would host “all comers” at WSIKF, including some specifically invited guests – namely “The Decorators” and “The Flying Squad” out of England” But as many Rev pilots as were interested could join the “festivities,” and they would do so this year, too – in droves! Well, throw maybe 100 Revolution pilots (give or take) into the mix that is a normal WSIKF, and there is simply not enough beach available. So the “Rev Field” was allocated and laid out at the very southern end of what used to be laid out for WSIKF. After all, it’s not like we were “out of” beach… But more about the “Rev” folks later, and in other parts of this Kitelife issue.

Sunday night saw all of us in our condo unit headed out to eat at The Crab Pot, a reasonably decent local eatery, and then it was back to the condo to get settled in. WSIKF actually starts in the morning.

And so it did too – with a “weather picture” that would seem to hold throughout the entire week. Overcast skies until late morning or early afternoon, with “zero” wind early (meaning really “offshore” vapors), and then eventually “onshore” winds starting very light in the morning, and slowly building throughout the day to it’s maximum in mid-to-late afternoon, and then a gradual decline again until sunset. Fortunately, every day the winds worked it’s way toward “northerly” which means clearing and/or at least no rain on the coast. Winds from the south bring us the rains. Yes, we’ve experienced enough of those “southerlies” to know how much fun a couple of thousand of your closest friends can be if they’re all soaked and grumbling about rain.

Anyway – weather for WSIKF this year was forecast to be good – or at least “acceptable” – throughout the week. Sometimes just NOT having to worry about weather becomes a “high point” for you, and I suspect it was so during WSIKF this year, too. At least it was for me… Covering a event full of “grumbling” pilots who cannot fly is NOT a lot of fun for me when it happens – and it does, occasionally.

So Monday is something of a low-key, “organizational” day at WSIKF, where everyone finds their way around, gets registered, obtains “parking passes,” and gets the “feel” of the place. So LAlo and I did our obligatory stuff, and got that out of the way. LAlo had a couple of STX 2.5 DFMs to play with, so after breakfast I turned LAlo loose to wander and see the sights and fly as he chose, and I went on my merry way. Monday is officially “Trains and Arches” day at WSIKF, so the main fields were filled with all manner of pretty arches and several long trains, growing throughout the day. So I grabbed the camera and set out to “see the sights” and shoot whatever came my way. Got a few shots of “The Old Man on The Beach,” Ray Bethell setting up, but the winds, while northerly (best direction) were a little light for Ray when I happened by, and he was in no real rush to prove himself – thinking that he’d just wait for windspeed to increase instead.

I wandered off to see what else could be found. Over on the “Big Kite” field, the sky was beginning to fill with big Suttons and other various “show” kites” and over in the corner of the field, “Team Suspended Animation” was starting their run on an attempt to set a new record for the number of box-kites on a single line. Ray Hertz had acquired at least ten dozen “Toy Story” (as in the film of that name) box kites, and was assembling them and putting them aloft. Naturally, when any record attempt occurs, the “looky-lous” will tend to gather (me included), so I finally had something to photograph.

Working from a set procedure, about half the team would be busy assembling kites, while the other half attached them to the fly-line and s-l-o-w-l-y walked them into the air. Altogether, there were about 8-10 individuals involved in this exercise at any given time. Of course, as soon as 70-80 of these kites were aloft, the winds began to freshen a bit… making it that much more difficult to launch the remaining kites in order to hit or pass the current record. But, with plenty of organization (working to a plan), and enough safety-conscious people who knew what they were doing, Ray Hertz and company s-l-o-w-l-y and eventually accomplished 115 Toy-Story Box Kites on a single line. Yes, they had more kites, but (1) the number aloft beat the old record, (2) the wind was still freshening, meaning more “pull” on the line, and (3) they still had the exercise of “walking the kites back down” to go through. It was a good choice on their part, a safe and conservative choice. And finally it all came off exactly as planned, with no gear or kites broken, no unfortunate line-parting or anything like that, and nobody injured in the whole process. BRAVO, Suspended Animation! Congratulations, Ray!!!

And observing that exercise consumed most of what remained of the morning. Oh, I wandered off around the field shot a few photos, said “Hi” to lots of folks I knew, and several that I didn’t know… and finally wandered off the Vendor Row to get a bite to eat. As I remember it, Monday was the “Smoked Sausage” day… but I could be wrong too. Throughout the week, I would eat off the vendors fairly frequently. The espresso lady was close to the beach, as I remember. The Dunes trailer for Fish-n-Chips was up front too. Somebody else had Biscuits-n-Gravy for breakfast. Another vendor had pretty decent burgers. But I missed the Teriyaki Stir-Fry booth this year, though I saw enough folks who ate “em to ensure that vendor’s return again next year.

Vendor Row – just one of the “delights” of WSIKF. Split about 1/3rd food vendors, and the other 2/3rds various other items for sale – about the kind of things you’d expect, including two kite vendors.

And… I actually assembled, flew, and then put away a kite on Monday afternoon. Yes, I know… I probably shouldn’t be flying during a festival – spending my time shooting and schmoozing instead, but I broke my own rule… though I think it was mostly that I was a bit bored after the delights of watching Ray Hertz’s “record” unfold in the morning.

And I also wandered off to “other” parts of the beach too. I found LAlo, down by the water, working the kinks out of his DFMs a bit, but also spending some time watching the amazing Ray Bethell in action too. It’s difficult to imagine that Ray has to be somewhere in his mid-80s, and he has been doing this for HOW MANY YEAR now? Roughly 20 years that I know of… literally around the world each year. But age and tenure don’t much matter, really. Ray Bethell is the consummate “Kite Showman,” and he literally mesmerizes audiences wherever he flies. If you’ve spent some time watching Ray, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t – I recommend it heartily. Your “kiting” education is not quite complete without it!

And finally, I wandered down to the “Revolution” end of the field. Quite an operation was happening down there. Equipped with their own sound system, pop-up booth, and laid-out fields – things were in full swing when I arrived… There were lots of folks just “free-flying” their Revs of course… but plenty of “team” interaction was occurring too. Apparently, there were assigned “mentors” or “leaders” for groups of fliers, and each group was busy getting everyone up to speed in order to function well together. Obviously, this wasn’t much effort for the “old hands” out there, but there were certainly plenty of new and inexperienced people two – which was where the majority of the effort seemed to be going.

More to come, of course. I would check back with these “Revolutionaries” from time to time throughout the week. Indeed, anytime I wanted to feel “good” about kiting, or about WSIKF, or brighten my day or just to feel good about myself – the “Rev Garden” was the place to find that ever-present “optimism” and productivity running rampant… It’s always good to have a spot like that at any festival, too!

But like all days – this one had to end eventually. So we all ended up back at the condo, for wine and cheese, or some “nibbles” anyway… Time to wash up, fill the belly, and kick back… John and the “Revies” were headed off to Long Beach Thai for a “group” dinner, and I was invited, but I chose to avail myself of the lighter fare of Mexican at El Compadre instead – a long-time favorite of mine. Yeah, I went to bed early. And so did my roommate, LAlo. Tired puppies, both of us.

We awoke the next morning, refreshed and ready to go – and went to breakfast. What would become our usual breakfast – when we ate any at all. Benson’s, right on Beach Blvd, I believe… Palatable breakfasts and decent service, with plenty of coffee – all for a nominal price. Then it was time for the beach.

The usual weather was prevalent again. Overcast, light morning winds, but still blowing northerlies. Enough to get by with anyway, so kites were already airborne, and “showing” on the Big Kite field.

And – as would become our habit – LAlo left me to wander were I would, giving him a chance to do the same on his part too. It’s an easy friendship we’ve developed over the years I’ve been going to Argentina which allows and encourages this kind of freedom to move about on both of our parts, so we are both comfortable with that “festival” methodology. LAlo was on his own, and so was I.

With adequate wind coming on, the Big Kite field began to fill up. And one of our “Invited Fliers” began to put on quite a show. Bernhard Dingworth was in from Germany, and began to launch some of his stable of incredible, inflatable creations. He also launched several “trains” of inflatables, along with an associate who had come along with him from Europe. The “individual” inflatables that caught my eye were a huge “man shaped” creation in Black and Yellow with immense Red lips on the face, something akin to a pastel-Blue lizard with Yellow spikes along the spine, a very large Green and Yellow Frog, and trains of various sized parrots, penguins, turtles, and other animal shapes… His associate (whose name I probably heard at least once, but somehow didn’t retain), contributed roughly a comparable number of kites to the displays – including an interesting stack of Light-houses.

So I spend time time wandering the field, shooting Herr Dingworth’s kites – and those of his friend too.

Then, across the way on the second field, the “Windjammers” out of Detroit, MI, were putting on a show as well. The Windjammers do big stacks of Dyna Kites with long tails streaming behind. Perhaps less well known than the Bay Area Sundowners, the Windjammers are equally proficient showmen, having performed all around the US, Canada, and Europe… They’ve been in existence since “83 and the Windjammers are a real delight to watch. So I spent some time watching, shooting, and talking with the “boys from Detroit.” We have that part of the world in common, since I was born and raised in the Detroit area (back in the dark ages, before there was wind – No, it’s true. Really!!! Just ask my kids!).

And, I also caught a portion of the “Individual Rokkaku Battle” as well. As usual, three heats, total aggregate points wins the prize, and furious activity can sometimes beat youth and cunning – but only “sometimes.” Still, watching a Rok Battle is an interesting and enjoyable way to spend a half an hour or 45 minutes. Nope – I didn’t shoot any photos, and I don’t remember who won, but that stuff’s not too important anyway. What’s really important is enjoying seeing people out on the beach flying kites and having fun! And they certainly got THAT part accomplished!

Anyway, with one thing and another, I managed to capture a few photos, talk to a few people, take my annual “tour” along vendor row, stopping and examining each booth, and spend maybe an hour just watching the crowd react to Ray Bethell’s artistry, too. More than enough for a full day! Ah, and LAlo seemed to be having great fun, and confirmed that it was so as well.

Then it was “home” to the Condo to sit in front of the Television set and watch “America’s Got Talent!” Our good friend, Connor Doran, would fly tonight and we all wanted to be there to see it! And for those of you who are unaware of it, had Connon not been involved with AGT, he would have spent the week with us at WSIKF, for he is indeed the “everybody’s kid brother” for most of the kite pilots we hang with. His mom, Amy, is an AKA Regional Director (as is Theresa Norelius, my housemate and our “hostess” at the condos for WSIKF), and Amy is a AKA Grand National winning pilot in her own right. I have stayed at their house, and they have stayed at ours. And everyone who flies sport kites in the Pacific Northwest knows Connor on about that same basis. Connor is known and loved out here, on his own right, just for “himself” – and his phenominal “run” on AGT is just a delightful byproduct to that whole equation.

So we all sat in our condo living room and watched Connor fly indoors in L.A. on AGT! Apparently, so did the rest of the Condo residents! I have never heard the condo courtyard echo like it did when Connor had finished flying! The noise of all that cheering was delightful – and nearly painful it was so loud. And from that point on, there was much Internet activity and Cell-Phone calling and texting around the condo! Yes, we were all busy voting for Connor – 30 times apiece!

Up and at “em again. Ablutions completed, the Benson restaurant got re-visited, and we made a small side-trip before it was off to the beach again. LAlo had “gifts” to buy for friends in Argentina – and also one or two things for himself, too (Levis!), so we stopped in at The Dennis Company in downtown Long Beach to spend a little money. Then it was beach-time again.

Well, will wonders never cease? The weather’s “holding” for a third consecutive day. It’s almost getting to the point where we can actually count on it – a scary thought for those of us in the Northwest.

Wednesday is officially “Red White and Blue” day at WSIKF, so there were a fair number of tri-color patriotic kites in the air, including 3-4 big Suttons and also a stack of a dozen pretty RWB Delta Conynes belonging to Barry Tislow. I’d heard him order the kites on Monday, and saw them from a distance as I approached the parking lot, complete with long tails which seemed to be causing some disruption as I approached. But by the time I had a chance to get to the beach itself, the tails were gone and the 12-stack was flying well. A check with Barry confirmed that there just wasn’t enough wind to support those tails yet, but the stack alone flew well.

Yes, all of yesterday’s events were replicated today. Herr Dingworth had all of his stuff out and flying. The Windjammers grabbed whatever field seemed empty and flew – long and well. Instead of the “Individual Rok Battle,” we watched the “Red White and Blue Individual Rokkaku Battle” instead.

In addition, today was also “Kid’s Day.” If you were a kid, you could go the the registration tent and ask to “fly a kite.” If you did that, you were assigned to a “mentor” who would teach you about assembling, flying, and breaking down a kite for storage including lots of words about flying safety, and you were given a brand new kite to fly (or maybe a well-used one too, depending on what the mentor was willing to offer). And you then spent time on the field with your mentor, learning everything about your new kite, and fling it with your mentor. Glenda Kleppin, who runs this event every year, told me that she had well over 150 kites to give out, and no kid left the field without a new kite and a new “grandparent” too! Yeah – it’s a pretty special program, offered only at WSIKF as far as I know. Thank you, Glenda!

And there were a few other, additional events too. Among them, a “Senior Ballet” event – specifically for sport kite pilots who were at least willing to call themselves “Seniors.” This might not sound like such a big deal, but it’s very nice to see some of those “older” pilots who used to be major competitors get out on the field and “strut their stuff” again. Think half a dozen pilots, older classical or “big Band” music, sport kites with a few miles on them, and folks who’re finally dry behind the years out there flying again – giving the audience a good show!

The “other” big event – which mostly went unnoticed – was the fact that those who wished to practice-fly or learn to fly indoor kites could do so after 2:00 PM at the Long Beach Elementary School. Yep – the gym was open for Indoor kites after too – which would continue daily through Friday evening. Uh, why the “unnoticed” part above? Well mostly because everyone who parked on the beach using their “Beach Pass” could not get off the beach until 5:00 PM.

So the day passed quickly, with lots to do again. I think this was also the day when LAlo finally managed to make his way down the beach to see what this “Rev Flying” business was all about. Apparently, he just asked someone about learning to fly… and that was literally “all she wrote.” That someone took him aside, put a Rev in his hands, and started in teaching… My guess is that he stuck with it all afternoon!

I noticed the change immediately upon seeing LAlo back at the condo when I returned. For one thing, he was sunburned – meaning that he’d NOT worn sunscreen and had spent the major part of the afternoon facing South. Then there was this huge ear-to-ear “Grin” plastered on his face, with no apparent reason for it (who can be grinning like that over being sunburned?). So I asked him how he was, more to ascertain if he was OK… His reply was, “My little fingers are VERY tired!” I must have looked bemused, so he held his arms out horizontally, palms facing in, with both thumbs up and both little fingers down, and wiggled his little fingers” I got the point immediately! I mentioned that little bit of humor to one or two of the “Revies” and they both knowingly confirmed that he’d been there all afternoon. One went so far as to say that “He got it!” – meaning that he’d caught the “Rev bug.” Actually, it’s not all that surprising, since LAlo is really the long-time “Godfather” of “Team Flying” down in Argentina, and so he never seems to be able to resist any team-flying experience.

Moreover, LAlo is just another perfect example of something I’ve noticed within the last couple of years. What we used to call “The DARK Side,” meaning quad-line flying, is quickly becoming “The LIGHT Side,” with dual-line flying losing its momentum and sliding slowly into obscurity… or so it seems to me these days. That could just be my overactive imagination, of course. But it’s pretty hard to conceive of 100 or more dual-line pilots showing up just to fly at WSIKF anymore, though it certainly used to happen all the time years ago. Obviously, that’s NOT so with today’s Revolution pilots, however.

Wednesday evening was somewhat less ordered and constrained than Tuesday evening. We’d all watched last night and voted like crazy. We’d done our part. Now, whatever happened with Connor and AGT was out of our hands… And frankly, we’d all watched Connor’s flight the night before and KNEW that he’d done extremely well. It really wasn’t much of a surprise to us that he made the Semi-Finals of “America’s Got Talent” without too much trouble.

And, as we watched the AGT presentation that evening, I glanced across the condo living room and was privately just delighted. There – stretched out in three chairs side-by-side – sat Toby Arndt, Christian Slater, and Michael Dirk. All three are active teen-aged pilot-competitors of Connor’s in the Northwest Sport Kite League here in the Pacific Northwest, and all three were quiet and gentle, but VERY interested in how Connor did on AGT, and really pulling for him. True, there are a couple of other kids about the same age who weren’t there that night. But I thought to myself, “These kids, like Connor and these boys, are the future of kiting in the Northwest. How proud I am of them all – every one!

Finally, Wednesday reached it’s end, and my pillow felt quite restful.

And Thursday broke as usual – medium-level overcast, a promise of wind, and no rain. Almost “BORING,” but not quite… And, as it would turn out, something of a “Red-Letter” day, too…

So, without much thought for the other events of the day, I suggested to LAlo that we might break our “tradition” a bit and go visit “Laurie’s Homestead” in Seaview instead for a breakfast treat – which we did. I’m usually pretty much of a “Mom and Pop’s Cafe” eater with a “meat and potatoes” appetite, but every now and then I hanker for something a bit more “gourmet” than “gourmand.” And for breakfast in or near Long Beach – that means Laurie’s! So I had to get LAlo in front of what Laurie’s calls a “biscuit” – which is darned-near a dinner-plate sized, and probably 2″ thick. Yep – LAlo and I had our shot at eating “Hearty,” and we acquitted ourselves fairly well, too!

Then it was off to the beach again. Grab the camera, and start the hike from the parking lot. But – being that we’d spent that time at Laurie’s, I missed the beginning of “Handcrafted Comprehensive Competition,” one of Thursday’s special events. Still, they were reeling off the remaining different classes of “Handcrafted Comps,” one right after another. I got there in time for most of these, but found not much there that jumped out and screamed “Shoot ME!!!” so I went “visiting” instead. I just wandered the field for most of the morning. Nope – nothing got me “excited,” so I didn’t grab many photos wither. It was like I was lost in my own separate world, where I shared the beach with others, but I was invisible to them.

The Fighter Kites people were busy on three separate flying fields. Every year I threaten to break away from the main WSIKF “party” and go watch the Fighter Kite people play. Every year I remake that pledge, because every year – I Miss it! Well, this year – my record remains intact, though my self-promise remains unfulfilled. I guess maybe I should just give up my pledge?

I’m not exactly certain what day that the North American Fighter Kite Association (NAFKA) held their great, grand to-do, but it could easily have been on Thursday… One of these days during WSIKF, NAFKA hosts the “Fighter Kite Line Touch World Cup Championship,” just as they do every year. Yes, every year we have an opportunity to watch the very “best of the best” in fighter kites go head-to-head with each other for the Line-Touch World Cup. I am truly SORRY I MISSED IT (again), folks. I will honestly try and do better next year… and if you wish to hold my feet to the fire, please feel free to do it, too!

But – IF it was on Thursday, I can honestly say that I PASSED you anyway. I was on my way down to hang with the “Revies” in the afternoon. I’d received word that these guys would try to set a new World Record for the number of Revolution Kites in the air at one time. It was unclear what the old record was at the time, but apparently the “powers that be” thought that 64 kites would break it. I remember last year, we’d seen up to 65 kites in the air, but only 50 of them remaining airborne and holding formation long enough to claim for a record. So I wandered down to “Rev-ville” for a look-see again, and perhaps a photo or two of any record attempt.

When I arrived, it was interesting to note all of the energy and activity. Hearts were a-pumpin’ and things were jumpin’. Never mind any “staid” old feeling… People were sliding on and off the field seamlessly. Oh yeah… it was all still “just practice” but it felt “energized,” like the bunny – there was “purpose” afoot here in Rev-Land.

I finally located John Barresi, and asked him roughly when he figured any record attempt might be made, and he gave me an “Oh, in about a half-hour” answer. Okay, I can work with that, and it certainly makes no sense to run all the way up the beach to the mail WSIKF fields again. So I figure I’ll just hang here instead.

I glanced down after we finished and noticed someone I thought I knew just a little bit. And after another glance for confirmation, I thought to myself – “Yeah, that’s Jim Barresi, John’s Papa.” I asked John later on and he confirmed it. Yup – his dad was there for his record attempt.

Anyway, I make my way over about 20 feet away to the “iQuad” camp – a collection of beach chairs filled with the iQuadies and hangers-on, all of them friends of mine, of course. We get to yakking, and someone mentions that Joe Hadzicki is here from San Diego in for the festival, and had I seen him? No, I had NOT, and where be he, I inquire – so someone pointed, “WAY OVER THERE!” Sure enough, that looked like Joe, so – while I was waiting – I ambled over to say “Hi” to Joe. Gosh, it’s always nice to see a big grin like that… I’m actually quite pleased he even remembered me!

Joe’s busy giving quasi-lessons, but trying to keep me in the loop, and also trying to sell kites while he’s at it… Finally, I hear over the sound system that they’re going to muster up for their record attempt. So I suggest that “Now’s the time” if Joe wants to jump in on this record deal… Oops… Where’d he go? Joe was already half way across the field, on his way to join the fliers… I guess he wants to be part of it, huh?

Well, without further ado, I’ll tell you that I watched and listened while John talked 64 pilots up into the air and into formation, and had them hold in position for whatever time is necessary to qualify for a “World Record.” While they shifted and shuffled and got blown out of position, I shot prelim “test” photos. After they steadied up, I shot maybe 10 photos to be certain that I had a good image of all those kites laid out properly. Whatever was necessary, they all did it. No pulled punches. No excuses. No bull, either. Just plain honest-to-god “Excellent” kite flying.

Now… For those of you who see the nice photos and say “Hey! I could do that!” I’d suggest you show up at WSIKF next year and put your money and kites and experiences where your mouth is. I am not ANY kind of Revolution pilot, but even I can attest that what these people did was NOT easy! And if you do not believe me, keep right on reading about the next record attempt, which happened about 24 hours later.

My hat is truly off to EVERY pilot who had a kite aloft in that photo. Yeah, I took the photo, but YOU put in the hours and hours of work to gain the necessary experience in order to make your particular portion of that photo happen. KUDOS everyone. MAJOR PROPS to you ALL! It was no easy chore.

Well, of course – smiles and hugs all around. Kites landed. People gathered, shook hands, thanked each other, and all that “good stuff.” And then disassembled their kites and lines and other gear and packed it all away. Oh, a few hung around and flew a bit more. The wind was superb, after all – maybe 15 MPH give or take, steady as all get out from the North-Northwest. Anyway, twenty minutes later, the beach was pretty empty!

Back to the condo for me. Time to breath a little easier, take a load off, make sure I had what I thought I had, and download it all onto the computer RIGHT NOW – just to be certain that I had my photos all backed up!

Another fine WSIKF day, complete with a documented World Record, that I hope and expect will finally make it into the record books someday. Enough for one day, and something to put a smile on people’s faces this evening. In addition, a glass of wine, a good dinner, and off to bed. Tomorrow would be a jam-packed day. My friend LAlo and I would be quite busy.

And, not surprisingly anymore, we woke to overcast, a hint of wind, and just a little heavy dew – meaning a promise of a better day with maybe less overcast, but still no rain! Hooray! We might get through this whole WSIKF week without any measurable precip! Wouldn’t THAT be rare?

Breakfast at Benson’s by the Beach right in downtown Long Beach again – still palatable and most satisfactory. Then we were off to the beach and another fine day – with or without sunshine. (Sunshine and “heat” would be two items in rather short supply during WSIKF this year.)

Today’s events would try the souls of men. There was no way in hell we could possibly make all of the events in the program, so it was fruitless to even think about it… Not only that, but the “events overlaying other events” stuff would stretch well into the evening, finally ending up with fireworks on the beach after the Night Fly – when everything was fully dark!

Yes, the Big Kites field was still filled moderately full with Suttons, Conyne Deltas, some stunning Brasington creations, and the works of Bernhard Dingworth and his friend. Not much new there, however.

The Windjammers still put on a fine show whenever possible, but what flights they made were sandwiched in between other events in a busy schedule – and not very many flights at that.

The NAFKA Fighter Kite folks continued to compete among themselves, just as usual. Maybe today was their World Cup – I really don’t know.

And – since it was now “officially” the weekend (starting on a Friday? Yup – it did!) – most pilots who could not be here the whole week were either here or coming anyway – just adding to the fray! And the schedule of events reflected their involvement. For the remainder of WSIKF, we would simply ADD (1) Mass Ascensions, for single-line fliers, and (2) Competition events, for sport-kiters. Nope – we didn’t remove much to make room in the schedule, either! WHEW!!!

Perhaps here is as good a place as any to mention WSIKF Attendance. We’ve seen prior WSIKFs where you could not walk down Vendor Row in less than 15-20 minutes – due entirely to the crowds on the weekends. We’ve seen competition for “Dune Space” where you could just sit your lawn chair and see a portion of the fields and maybe – MAYBE – hear the announcer on the PA system. We’ve had plenty of instances where people have tried to drive their cars onto the beach from either end – beyond the festival – trying to get in.

But not so this year… Yeah, maybe the economy is the cause. I dunno… Plenty of “maybe” room for various reasons here too. All I know is that attendance was off this year… How much off? Well, I don’t know that either, so maybe I’d best just say “less” and be done with it… I’d guess off by at least 25% though – “off” by enough to be a noticeable, and significant, number… Anyway, the weekend attendance was reduced by enough people that being there at WSIKF was “comfortable” rather than “congested.”

So – jumping right into the fray, the two main fields in front of the announcer’s booth were both fully allocated for both Friday and Saturday. No room for anyone to “slip in” and put on a spontaneous event (such as a half-hour “Windjammer” demo) which sometimes happened during the week.

The noteworthy events from my perspective on the main fields on Friday were all of the Sport kite Comp events and single-Line Mass Ascensions on both fields. If those interest you, I strongly urge you to peruse our respective organizations for details of what occurred. It’s not that I didn’t observe them – I did. It’s just that there were SO MANY of them slammed together that all I could do without rubbing someone wrong is list them, event by event. If I had to list the names and scores, I’d never get through them all, and you probably wouldn’t bother reading any further, either.

Yes, I wandered the fields. Sure I shot photos, perhaps as many on those two days as I’d shot all WSIKF long so far – and some (but not all) of them are out in the galleries. I drank coffee from the Espresso stand. I had a hotdog from some vendor that I don’t even remember. I talked with folks from nearly every part of the festival. I had about 4 hours of general “beach time” before I knew I needed to head south to “Revolution-ville” and their next possible World Record attempt.

So it was back down to the Rev field again, and another World Record? Uh… not so fast. While it was the same field, and the same group of pilots, the wind made a huge difference. While yesterday’s successful attempt was flown in the mid-teens, today’s breezes were less than 5 MPH, and maybe a bit less. And it takes much more “expertise” to hold a hover in low winds, particularly since control adjustments are critical when winds are so “marginal.” So what we saw in this less-than-optimal wind was a group of quite experienced pilots attempting a record during conditions which required constant adjustments to hover, and this was compounded by nearby kites struggling to maintain position even when yours is hovering perfectly.

To cut to the chase, then, what we observed was an “attempt” rather than a record. Ten minutes of dicy, dancing kites, bumping each other with the net result that 4-5 kites would be out of control. And once those kites regained position, the same problems would occur with other kites elsewhere. And, if you look at the photo of the second attempt, you will notice that all of the kites are much closer to the beach – meaning that they were “packed” much closer together, and therefore had much less room for error. Not anybody’s fault. Just Mother Nature not providing perfect conditions two days in a row. Believe me, nobody was hurt in either attempt. And no kites were broken in either attempt as far as I know. It was just one of those “exercises in frustration” where the collective will to succeed didn’t quite overcome not-so-hot conditions. No Harm! No Foul!!!

Finally, everyone was dead beat from all the energy expended, and it was time to give it up. It didn’t last more than 5-10 minutes at the most. Then Barresi said, “Let’s bag it – break it up, and let’s get a group hug.” End-of-attempt! Followed by smiles all around. These folks are all grown-ups and are “good with it.

All followed by – two dozen of the very best pilots – taking to the air again with the whole idea in mind to spell out “CONNOR” in the sky… but that didn’t work either, for much the same reasons. They had to settle for “CD” instead, which are Connor Doran’s initials. Believe me, this bunch KNEW about Connor Doran. They also knew, if he’d not been in L.A. – competing on AGT – he’d have been one of the very good ones out there with them, and almost certainly part of that new World Record they’d set the day before!

Yeah, I ran back to the condo, did a little computer work to reduce the photo size to “mailable” and sent it off to Connor down in L.A. straight away. Amy said Connor was blown away to think that they thought so much of him that they would do that. Funny, everybody on the field said he was crazy to even wonder if they knew he wasn’t there… OF COURSE, they ALL knew where Connor was!

Then, it was off to the World Kite Museum immediately. The event – while not even listed in the WSIKF program – was the Induction of new members into the World Kite Museum’s “Hall of Fame.” And I’d normally give this event just a line or two and pass on to other things. But given who one of the inductees was, I believe that it warrants a bit more “ink.

The “Pot-Luck” was about like most other kiting pot-lucks. The pre-announcments mentioned that the Museum is healthy and able to pay its own bills and stay open for another year, though they would be happy to accept check in any amount as long as there was money in the account to back the check. Then Dave Gomberg was called upon to, as he mentioned: “Open the envelope and find out who we’re indicting into the Hall of Fame this year.

This year’s inductees are:

The Hadzicki Brothers (Joe, David and Jim), who created the world’s first completely controllable sport kite.

The late Shingo Modegi, who created Tokyo’s Kite Museum, started the Japan Kite Association (JKA), and was an internationally known Kite photographer.

While Joe Hadzicki accepted the congratulations of those in attendance on behalf of his brothers and said a few words of thanks, Shingo Modegi’s son and carrying on his father’s passion as current president of the JKA, Masaaki Modegi was unable attend the induction ceremony.

On a somewhat personal note, your author ranks the contributions of the Hadzicki brothers to the kiting community in the same league as those of Lawrence Hargrave, Dominia Jalbert, A.G. Bell, Samuel Franklin Cody, and Alexander Wilson.

And from there, we went straight over to the Long Beach Elementary School, where the WSIKF Indoor Kite Competition was held. We got there late, of course. Still, the stands were jam-packed, so I ended up standing at the far end, opposite the door to the gym. I saw competition performances by Connor’s peers in Toby Arndt and Christian Slater along with Jerry Cannon, Bud Hayes, Paul DeBakker, and several other excellent pilots.

There is a lag between the last competitive performance and final determination of the places, so Scott Weider used that time to entertain (seduce) the audience with his Indoor Rev. It turns out that Joe Hadzicki had come to the gym to observe the comps, and had ended up locked outside the door while Scott was inside flying his Rev. Joe was just amazed by the things that Scott could do with the kite, and Joe was nearly beside himself at missing the opportunity to watch Scott fly indoors – except through the small window in the gym door.

Once the WSIKF Indoor Comp was over, it was already too late for us to attend the outdoor Night Fly. We returned to the Condo just in time to watch the Fireworks from the beach – right outside our window. Nice display, WSIKF!!!

WOW – What a jam-packed day!!!

Saturday showed up looking just like all the rest of the days of the week, overcast, light breezes to start with and no rain. Breakfast at Benson’s was good satisfying food, and the server was an old friend by now. Then it was on to the beach.

Yes, all kinds of activity happening… Sport Kite events were soon underway after the traditional “Pilot’s Meeting.” And those NAFKA folks were at it again down the way too. People were climbing dunes and settling in for the day to watch the festivities… I hung around a bit and watched some of the Mass Ascension for Flat and Bowed kites for a while, but I’d seen enough other folks flying kites for a while and I wanted something different… so I went and found a cup of Espresso and wandered over to visit with one of the kite-sellers. Dave Colbert owns Above It All kites both in Long Beach and in Seaside, Oregon – though he swears he won’t be doing that for much longer. His intent is to close the shops and sell out, pleading “health reasons.” He’s probably right… If his heart isn’t in it anymore, maybe he’s better off going into retirement and enjoying life for a change. Still, it’s hard to think of another kite shop disappearing.

After a while, I noticed people forming up for the annual “Parade Of Colors,” where everyone grabs their banners and troops onto the field to honor the audience for coming out to attend the festival. So I found myself a good vantage point and used the camera to grab some more photos. After that was over I stayed and watched the “Team” Rokkaku Challenge, where teams fly the kites and duke it out for First Place ribbons from WSIKF. Nope, I cannot tell you which team won that one either… Mebbe it’s just time for a walk, so I sauntered down to the water to watch “The Old Man,” put his Kestrels through their paces. Regardless of age, Ray Bethell is still one of the finest shows on any beach you can think of.

Well, shucks. I’d hung out down there long enough that I’d missed the “Cody Fly” I had intended on watching. So I walked back to the car and drove around to the condo, parked the car again and wandered out near the Revolution Village again. At least there’s a bit more “energy” here… Yeah, some fliers had already left for home, so the numbers were somewhat reduced. Still, those who were left were still out there, flying those Revolution Kites for all they were worth! Well BRAVO ro you, Rev Addicts! You deserve all good things. Anyone who flies his/her “Passion” like that truly deserves extra accolades! And the same goes for you too, Mr. John Barresi. At this point, I believe your “Vision” fuels this sport! Good On You! After that, I went up and had a quick snack in the condo, and got myself all ready for the banquet.

I’m not certain what LAlo was expecting, but I’m sure it wasn’t anything like the WSIKF Banquet. He took his share of the food, but he didn’t seem to find much “banquet” there. Having attended a couple of the Argentinean “Banquets,” I’m sure the spread laid out by the Elks Club paled a bit by comparison. He looked at all of the offerings on the Bag Raffle tables, and tried to understand the Silent Auctions, but he didn’t seem interested in much more than the “mechanics” of it all. It was only later that I discovered that he’d fallen in love with a Focus Reflection, so he would take that indoor kite home to Argentina with him along with both of his Styx 2.5 DFMs.

It was all right… I normally buy something in the Museum’s Auctions, but I found nothing that interested me this year. That was okay. I’m certainly not out of kites to fly, and I didn’t have a compulsive need to just spend more money. We left near the end of the auction, but too late to get back in time to see the end of the Fireworks on the beach… Oh well, I can live with that too. Fortunately, my impression of WSIKF doesn’t depend on how well I do at the Banquet’s Auction, and I’m certain that LAlo’s impression doesn’t either! 😉

We bypassed most to the WSIKF activities entirely on Sunday. I would have liked to attend the Memorial Fly, but I was busy packing and loading stuff in the Van at about that time. We needed to be out of the Condo by noon, and I’ve never been a good one to hang on until the last minute anyway. Besides, I wanted to drive south and show LAlo the city of Seaside, OR where the AKA Convention will be held in a few weeks.

We made our way out of the Condo parking lot by about 11:00 AM, headed for Vancouver, WA by way of Seaside, OR. We mad it to Seaside quickly, spent about an hour in the outlet mall, toured downtown including the beach and the “turnaround” and all of the hotels and condos and places to eat. Then we headed for Vancouver, making it into our driveway in Vancouver by late afternoon.

We relaxed, ate well, and slept just fine. I put LAlo on the airplane on Monday morning, headed for Buenos Aires, by way of Houston, Texas. WSIKF 2010 was a very nice festival though a bit small this year, and LAlo was simply delighted with all of it. Not a bad introduction to the USA for your first time in our country ever, right?

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. I know I’ve unintentionally strung this one out just a bit. I hope you didn’t mind too terribly.

Fair Winds and Good Friends,

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Author:Dave Shattuck

As one of our regular and most prolific contributors, Dave "Geezer" Shattuck is a driving force here at Kitelife and a regular at many NW events as well as other locations throughout the year.

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