Issue 1: Novice Class

Initial Greetings

Thank you for stopping by the novice’s corner. This purpose of this column is to provide information to individuals who are new to the sport and recreation of kiting. Please note that I said sport AND recreation of kiting. First and foremost, flying kites should be FUN! However, there is a competitive side to this activity and sport kite competition is something I encourage any new kiter to consider. I do not intend for this to be a sport-kite only forum, because many individuals are very interested in the single line arena (heck, my first “real” kite was a parafoil 5 that I flew twice each year – for 2 years – at the beach while on vacation.) The following year I bought a Trlby and knew that I now had something to do at the beach… Life was good! After losing my mind the next year and purchasing a Hawaiian Team Kite for over $125, I was hooked on dual line kites.

Three kite bags full of kites later, I am falling in love with single lines all over again!) As my kiting mentor Charles “Stoney” Stonestreet keeps reminding me, “This activity offers something for everyone.” Hopefully, you will find something valuable in each column. Perhaps I’ll share conversations with a masters class flier or respected sport kite judge offering competition hints; I might just ramble on about things that I personally have experienced in competition; or I might just talk about sewing my first kite. I just completed my first full season of sport kite competition and learned many things throughout the season about the “art” of competing and will share many of these techniques in future columns.

Kiting does offer many things. For some, it can take years to discover the many things that kiting can offer… but that is the joy in the activity. Recall my early kiting history from above… note that I was excited and interested kites but only flew once or twice a year. Once I decided to pursue this activity on a regular basis, there were MANY obstacles to overcome before AOXOMOXOA! (the phil definition: AOXOMOXOA – that state of happiness while on a kite field, or just thinking about kites, or relaxing watching kite videos… basically the feeling that everything is right in the world because kites are near, in hand, or in the sky!) My frustrations did not end overnight, so it is with that background that this column was born. There is a place for your kiting salvation and Kite Life has it….send me an e-mail with your problems and suggestions for this column.

Let’s get down to business

Since the spring kiting season is upon us I wish to offer individuals competing in the novice class some words of advice from a recent novice graduate. Now keep in mind that these words of advice that follow are for COMPETING. Please remember that this is an activity that should be enjoyable. Don’t let the competition side of things stress you out. Think of it as paying a rental fee for the kite field. You own the attention of a small audience of judges for a few minutes and just get to show them your kite abilities. Do NOT walk onto the competition field with the attitude – I have to WIN or get a trophy for this to be fun… Just remember that it IS fun… and no matter how good or bad your performance, it is still FUN!

Phil’s Steps to being a happy novice competitor!

Hint #1

Join the AKA!

Remember that this is FUN… get the picture.

Hint #2

Remember that you have your whole life to become a Master’s class flier. Enjoy your time in the Novice Class.

Hint #3

Download the Sport Kite Competition Rule Book from the AKA Web Site.

Hint #4

Attend all judges or competitor seminars.

Many events offer judging seminars or competition seminars. These gatherings are a wonderful opportunity to meet other competitors and judges. Ask questions, please! You might be surprised at many of the responses you’ll get. You’ll find out that there are many opinions on what is “good” in a routine.

Hint #5

Be prepared for all wind conditions.

The proper equipment choice is often the difference at many competitions. You should have at least three kites in your bag- an Ultralight, one mid range, and one high wind kite (please, don’t let that hold you back… support your local kite store and buy more kites!). Remember that you can carry several kites with you to the staging area – however you may only enter the field on competition with one kite. Once you are on the competition field, you may not change equipment. Know your kites! It is important to know the conditions that make each kite happy. You will find out that over time… each kite and frame option has a wind range where it really works GREAT!

Hint #6

Leave your oversteery trick kites at the edge of the competition field.

One of the things that judges look for in a novice routine is CONTROL… that means sharp, crisp turns. If you can do this with your trick kite… go ahead. Just remember, smoothness and control are good – jerky and stally are bad. I wish to make it known that my favorite kite is one that would be classified as an oversteery trick kite… I use it in ballet. Fly what makes you comfortable, but remember smoothness and control!

Since I’m just making this stuff up as I go along… we’re likely to end up many more hints as this column progresses. There will be more later. Next time I’ll focus in more detail on Precision and Ballet.

Phil Napier