Issue 6: 4Play

Eye of the Tiger??

This article may start with quadline, but again it will evolve into a general article about competing.  One of the most interesting issues about competing is how many incredible flyers no longer do it.  There is good reason for this.

I started flying quadline because I had a natural knack for it.  I wanted to show this off.  Then I got hungry to win.  Typical story.  But the rewards for competing are slim.  Chunks of wood and seeing your name in a magazine gets old.  New flyers, new styles, new kites and new tricks change the field.  You lose the hunger.

Not that it doesn’t stay interesting or exciting.  It starts to become work.  When you first start competing it is a labor of love.  When you start winning, the hunger grows.  The problem is.. what next?

Almost all of the best flyers I was competing against a few years ago no longer do it.  John Baressi, Dave Arnold, Bob McBroom and even further back, Bob Hansen are all amazing quadline pilots and all have the potential for more titles.  None of them are currently competing in quadline.  I am no longer competing either.

The hunger goes away.  The respect of other flyers has been attained.  You get your awards and championships.  You wonder how you can top what you did last year.  You wonder if you want to.  The fun begins to fade.  You move on.

This is an issue because some of the world’s best pilots are not competing.  This hurts the quality and potential for sport kite flying.  However some of those great flyers, although they stop competing still take part.  This is the key.

Once the competing in itself loses its appeal, make sure you find a way to keep kites fun and interesting.  Many of the great pilots do this.  This is what keeps our sport going.  So the question becomes not how to keep competing, but what else to do.

Designing new kites is one direction many past champions go.  Judging, being on rules committees is another.  Yet another and very common way to go is to change the class in which you fly.

Recently, I have “rediscovered” dual line kites.  For a long time, a dual line would never come out of my bag.  In fact, when I would go to a festival, I would only bring quadline kites.  Now, I leave the quads at home.  I have learned to sew and have made some kites.

Judging is a great way to stay involved and on top of things without the pressure of competing also.  You still get to see all of the excitement.  Whether you compete or not though… STAY INVOLVED.  Don’t just drop the kites if competition has lost its appeal.

Getting to events is just as important, and just as much fun, whether you compete or not.  Kiting is as much a social event as a sporting event.  For a while after I stop competing I didn’t go to any events.  Then last year’s nationals came and I had a blast, without competing.. in fact more fun than when I was competing.  Seeing friends that I had not often seen, enjoying a drink (and a dance! <whew>) with Corey Jensen and joking with Lee Sedgewick, reminded me that the people who do this is one of the reasons I love it.

People like Corey, Lee, Dave Arnold, Dean Jordan, David Gomberg, and too many others to mention help keep sport kite flying alive.  They no longer compete, but figured out how have fun with their kites, contribute to competition and help our sport to grow.

I guess the real message I’m trying to send with this article is that competition, although it constantly pushes our sport to the next levels, is not the end all of kites.  The end all is FUN.  Finding your way to enjoy them is paramount.  Spreading and sharing this enjoyment makes it even better.

Hmm… sounds like I have thrashed competition badly.  Don’t get me wrong.  Competition is what pushes our sport continually.  It is why we now have composite kite rods, 1/2 oz material, spectra line, and magazines like this one.  It is the reason I can get together with so many friends every month or so and see what’s new in kiting.  It is what got me hungry for more.  It made me a better flyer and then showed me there was more than quadline.  I am a strong advocate of competing.  I just couldn’t keep the drive going after a while.  I had to keep the kites flying though.

Thanks to those I mentioned, and to Mike Gillard and many more unmentioned friends who have helped me to figure out how to have fun with my kites and keep playing even after I lost a competitive edge.  John Tavolacci showed me how to sit back and enjoy a kite festival without ever getting out of a chair or flying a kite!

Still… I love seeing the scores, hearing someone call out after a great routine, doing demos and flying for others.  Who knows… maybe after a while the hunger will come back.  Whatever you do, find a way to keep flying and having fun.  Just another bit of my rambling.

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Author:Sandy Wagner

Sandy has been flying in competition since 1993 and has won a number of Eastern League Championships and the AKA Grand National Championship in Master's Quadline in 1995. He has judged events across the US and represented the US in Guadaloupe at the 1st Intercontinental Kite Challenge. He is currently teaching eighth grade English in Geneva, New York.

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