2004 AKA Convention – Day 1

Drum roll please… Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, the American Kitefliers Association annual Convention is under way!  I checked into my room at the TrendWest yesterday afternoon and spent the day getting settled in ahead of the majority of the crowd… Now Monday, things are quickly getting into the swing of things!

Waking up at a reasonable time of 8am, I wandered out onto the field with my kite bag to find Paul LaMasters already getting tuned up with his Tirisp (modified Spirit) quad line… Doug Coates was not far behind with his STX and unmistakable grin.  Also in full effect down the beach a little ways, a variety of medium-sized inflatables and foils.

Wow… Wow, wow, wow… Talk about an all-star cast of kite masters from around the world!  As the day went on I found myself surrounded with other quad line fliers also preparing for tomorrow’s (today’s?) masters multi line events… Lam Hoac, Wayne Fu, Zach Gordon, Ron Despojado and others were all joined for a great deal of quad play and fun as the sun shined on and gave us glorious 4-6 mph winds to work with.  The forecast at last check says we can expect great weather all week, with possible sprinkles on Sunday when the event is over… Someone knock on wood, please!

Around 1pm I wandered over to the convention center to pick up my registration packet, and was blessed to encounter so many good friends I’ve had from over years, as well as a great many new ones… Ray and Tristan Underwood, Ben Dantonio, Brian and Aaron Champie, and others… This community never fails to bring warmth to my heart.

Mind you, we’re in the “pre-day” here… The festival hasn’t even officially begun, everyone is just showing up for the most part… With many more to arrive as the week goes on.

I staked up the Kitelife banner and went for some more flying with the quad guys, with Ron Graziano and Shawn Tinkham (two of the east coast’s hottest fliers) practicing a bit further down the beach… Ray Bethell had all three of his red, white blue Kestrels going already drawing a large crowd of spectators! I myself took center stage in front of the promenade for awhile with my Rev and headphones, jamming out for the visiting tourists for a good hour or so. We enjoyed great winds which capped out at around 7 mph through the rest of the day until our official reception at 6pm, held in the Seaside Convention Center.

With a cash bar, essential announcements and general carousing, the finest and most enthusiastic fliers from all over the country reconnected and made new friends until around 8pm when everyone broke and headed for various parties and such… Some of us wandered down to the main street promenade that overlooks the beach for a kite flier drum circle where John Gilespie, Mike Gillard, Darrin Skinner, Jeff Erzin, Ulysses Villanueva and others roused vacationers from their beds with some rousing and primal drumming and rhythm… After over wearing our welcome there, we retreated further out on the beach out of earshot for some more musical interlude while I whipped around my Rev I to the beats on short lines.

After reaching our fill, we packed it up and many headed back to their rooms for some well-earned rest… The few and the proud however, ended up at the Shilo bar to close out the evening in style… Ronda Brewer, Bazzer, Ron Gibian, Lam Hoac, myself and others closed out the bartender with much hijinks and general rabble rousing.

As we dispersed, I found myself closing out the evening (morning?) with Ron Gibian, comparing notes and sharing extensive kite philosophy by a lamp post until just shy of 2am… Many of these guys, including Ron, have known me since I started in kiting nearly 15 years ago and it’s always beyond nice to re bond with them event after event… Nothing like family, I have to say!

A tad overdue for the update around 2:30am, I have masters quad competition tomorrow and I do believe… It is time to retreat to my bed, and recoup.

To all, I bid you good night and much love… See you all again, same bat channel, roughly the same bat time… Tomorrow!

John Barresi