Quadline competition has been around since the late 1980’s and has evolved into something very different here in America compared to the rest of the world. In the United States, there is no such classification as Quadline Precision in competition. In Europe and Japan, this category is required for all quadline competitors.
I never really considered this much of an issue until a couple of years ago when I received an invitation to compete against the finest quadline pilots of Europe in Guadaloupe in 1997. The top American pilots were put against the top European pilots. As we were playing by European rules, I would be required to fly precision as well as ballet and have both scores tallied.
This brought a major issue into focus for me. Although I had never competed in a quadline precision event, I felt I had the ability to do well as an accomplished quadline flier and indeed, the American pilots were all anxious to try their lines at this new class of competition.
Of course, we did lousy in precision as we were unfamiliar with the maneuvers until a few months before the event, while our competitors had been flying them for their entire careers. That however, is not really the issue.
The issue is whether or not Quadline Precision is a valuable classification of our sport. Should the U.S. begin to require Quadline Precision events?
Precision flying has been around as long as competition in multi-line kiting. It forces us to become better fliers and gives us a standard against which we can judge performance. The more we work with our precision, the more perfect our straight lines, corners, and turns become, the more graceful our ballet becomes. If I feel this strongly about precision flying, you may ask, why any controversy?
Quadline is a bit different than dual line in terms of precision competition for one very important reason. One kite has dominated the quadline competition market since its invention in the 1980’s. This is no way is to say anything bad about the kite or the company that makes it; they simply created the best quadline kite to date.
As the Revolution became the standard quadline kite to compete with both here in America and in Europe and in Japan, precision maneuvers were developed based on the ability of this kite. Foils were out. Their lack of precision, slow speed, and difficult amounts of pull made them less suited for ballet and more suited to power kiting.
The powers that be created a series of maneuvers based on the abilities of the Revolution. They did not take into consideration the quadlined deltas that were out there, or the possibility of new kites. This is not the fault of any of the leagues, it is simply a matter of what was going on in the sport. Quadline competitors flew Revs. That was that. From the day the Rev was invented and put on the market in the 80’s, no other kite could take it at the national level. From 1988 until 1995 every AKA Quadline Championship was won by a Revolution kite.
That makes the use of the Rev as the standard for precision moves seem to make sense. However, In 1995 the Synergy Deca was introduced and took the title away from the Rev. That same year top finishers included people flying the TC Ultra as a quad as well.
Although all dual line kites have different flight characteristics, many are suited to precision flying. Because there are so few quadline kites geared towards competition, and because the Revolution is so dominant in this small field, the maneuvers are designed to specifically show excellent precision flying of a Revolution kite, not a quadline kite.
Enough of the gripe. Whether the compulsories that are currently used favor one kite or another still doesn’t answer the more important question of whether or not Quad Precision should be flown as a competitive event.
Don’t just take it from me. Take it from any of the world’s greatest fliers. Especially at the earlier stages of your flying, precision flying will improve your abilities as a kite flier. They force you to make moves that you would normally take for granted and not practice over and over again. Precision teaches you speed control and forces you to learn to do things with your kite you may otherwise never do. That pushes us to the top end of our abilities and then lets us learn the tricks and explore the outermost edges of what our kites can do.
As I said earlier, precision also sets a standard. Styles may differ from coast to coast, continent to continent, but precision figures do not. In order for the United States to compete in quadline competition around the globe, our fliers will need to show that they can achieve that standard as well. If we want our sport to move toward an international level, maybe one day an Olympic level, we all need to operate on the same standard.
The current precision figures that are used in competitions around the globe (except here in the US) are available at http://utopia.knoware.nl/users/pr-stack/cr01comp.htm These are according to STACK rules and are the maneuvers used in World Cup competition.
I suggest we all get to know these maneuvers. We want our sport to grow and be recognized. I may not agree that the figures are fair to all quadline fliers, but they are a standard. Without that standard across the kiting world, we will never have an international sport. Without working on precision, we cannot be the fliers we are capable of.
On a slightly different note, I have decided after over one year of writing for KiteLife to give up this column. Family, work, and life in general are beginning to get in the way of the kiting for me. Sharing my ideas and feelings about quadline kites has been a pleasure. I appreciate all the feedback and hope I have given some insight to other quad fliers. Keep those extra two lines! Hopefully I will see many of you on the kite fields soon. I’ll be the one trying to figure out how to fly a quad and feed a baby at the same time!!!