Well, here we are again. This time, yes I did it, I am a happily married kite flier. After the big wedding my thoughts have gone back to the wedding day over and over. In doing so, and then in trying to write my next column, I thought of all the things that could, would, and do go wrong.
First rule of something going wrong in almost all situations is simple. Don’t panic. If you do, you are dead. I remember my first big problem while competing. I did panic. Just 20 seconds into the song, my Synergy Deca imploded. Snapped the center bow right in half. I just kind of stood there. I was fortunate to have the kite maker as my ground crew. He was smart enough to have sticks in his back pocket. When it was obvious the kite could not fly as it was, the field director called out and I walked off the field in a daze. MISTAKE!
There are rules for most situations. There was a rule for this one. I was not finished until the kite was on the ground for 45 seconds without a relaunch. The field director’s call was a mistake and I was given a re-fly. I have seen people do incredible things with broken kites. Rich Javens in Guadeloupe flew second with a destroyed leading edge and broken spreader. DON’T PANIC.
If your line breaks, you are done. Get your kite to the ground and call out. If the kite breaks and you don’t have parts on the field, keep flying it till it won’t fly. Never give up.
In my humble experience, I have seen fliers crash a few times, get frustrated, and throw their handles in the air and call out. They may have been trying different and more difficult things than anyone else and even have been in the lead. They lost it.
Another common problem is technical. CD’s skip, sound gets messed up, or a single liner falls onto the competition field. Keep going unless the field director tells you to stop. There is a procedure for dealing with these things that many of us are unaware of. First, once your routine is complete talk to the field director and the judges about the problem. Then leave them alone to work it out. If you still have a problem, go to the tent and file a protest. Do this IMMEDIATELY. The head judge will rule on the situation as soon as possible and you may be granted a re-fly. If not, at least you got your routine done instead of calling out or landing in the middle of the routine to talk to the field director.
Wind can often be a problem as well, and can lead to disaster. Pick the proper kite and hope for the best. Remember though, you can ask for wind checks and if the wind is inappropriate for your class before the minimum time is up, you can ask the field director if you can stop due to the wind. But again, don’t panic.
Panic will make you angry, nervous and upset and you will not be in good shape to talk to judges or write a proper protest. These are the only options that will get you anywhere. Also, be prepared to avoid the types of disasters we see all of the time. Use CD’s and mark the proper track. No rewind problems there. Make sure your ground crew has an extra stick or two. Granted, in many kites, replacing a leading edge is not possible on the competition field, but a spreader or spine can be easily fixed and save you.
The most important reason not to panic is that we fly for fun. You may not win, but you never really lose. There is no big money at stake. If something tragic happens, go with the flow and move on. There are more competitions, more opportunities to fly.
Again, it has been a pleasure… I will be back with some more in a couple of months.