Issue 39: ProFile with El Fabuloso Team

Reading up on the 2004 World Team Championships in Berck sur Mer and talking with other attendees from the event, we had heard about a brand new team from Argentina… After doing a bit of research, I found their web site and was intrigued!  In a country where sport kiting is relatively new, El Fabuloso Team has managed to develop a strong flier base which includes one of the largest number of young fliers we’ve ever seen involved in such a project!

After a brief email exchange, we were fortunate to secure an interview with one of the founding members, LAlo Loescher… It was interesting to hear about kite flying in Argentina, the close-knit community they have formed, and the difficulties they’ve encountered in obtaining sponsorship in such a country, even for team kites and equipment.

I consider this group to be an inspiration, and am certainly thrilled to give them more exposure and share their experiences with our readers.

When did your current team form and what initiated it?

Our team was formed in January 2000, when Jorge Offermann (60 years old at the time) and myself decided to start flying team and got two different kites to try to do it. He had a HQ Obsession and I had an Atelier Excess: they were different size and speed and turns.

Jorge and I both came from years of flying U Control models and already knew each other from that time. Jorge had begun to fly precision kites three years before we started our team and while I was a paragliding pilot.

We both met as members of BaToCo, the principal Argentinean kite group, so we invited to all members to join us in team kite flying.

El Fabuloso Team’s life was not easy initially because through time we got and lost a number of team members.

After two years Jorge decided to quit and return to his other passion: sailing.

Who are the current members of your team(s)?

Today we are “almost a little town”: 12 members in multiple teams.

Team Tropita (Little troop): Gastón Fernández & Julián Fernández.

Team Junior: Ezequiel Fernández & Matías Cerbone.

Team Competitive: LAlo Loescher, Ariel Ballerini, Ezequiel Fernández & Fabián Fernández.

Team Just for fun: Héctor Cesaretti, Sergio Testai, Pablo Macchiavello, Emilio Menéndez.

Can you tell us a little about them?

Gastón Fernández (11): He is so smart. A step ahead everything. He calls the maneuvers in his team and sometimes in our mega team. He has been flying since he was 9 years old.
Julián Fernández (9): He is the youngest Fernandez’ brother. He always practices and practices with us, and with his teammate-brother or alone (if he is not fighting with his brother Gastón).
Ezequiel Fernández (14): He is the older Fernández’ brother. He has power, brain and decision ability. He makes the calls in Team Junior (flyer #1), and he is flyer #3 in the Competitive Team. He joined us in January of 2002. He is a very good student and a future veterinary doctor.
Matías Cerbone (15): The good lad, always smiling. He was the first boy of our team. He is a normal student and he likes electronics. He is flyer #2, flying since November 2001 when he joined us.
LAlo Loescher (48): Founding member. I confess I am the grunt of the team, the perfectionist. I call the moves in competitive and mega teams. Flyer #1. I have been flying all sorts of things since I was 4 years old, kites since 1996. I am a ventilation and fan technician.
Ariel Ballerini (42): The quiet and consistent man. He is the rock. Flyer #2, flying since 1999, he joined in middle 2000. He is always ready to fly. He is a car service technician.
Fabián Fernández (40): He is the commercial counterbalance, the other point of view. Flying with his three sons he became a member following his son Ezequiel in July 2002. Flyer #4. He is an Electric Engineer.
Héctor Cesaretti (53): The studious man of ALL kind of kites. He sews kites and has flown since 1996. He has all the kites you can imagine and more. He joined in February 2000. He is an amateur magician, actor, and is a notary as well.
Sergio Testai (42): The joke guy, when he comes. He joined in April 2001. He is a drummer and an electronic components sales man.
Pablo Macchiavello (34): A real sport guy. He sews kites and drives kite buggy. He joined in July 2002. He is our creative artist and designed our logo and banner. He is an Industrial Designer.
Emilio Menéndez (39): A stunt kite fanatic, he has every kite of Alto Vuelo and more. Flying since 1996, he joined us in July 2002. He is a gastronomic manager. His help was invaluable as #5 in practices when we went to WC in 2004.

What areas do your team members hail from?

We all live in Buenos Aires city, except Emilio and me… We live in B.A. suburbs.

The distance from our houses to the flying field is not more than half hour of car driving.

We knew each other in the two different places we used to fly: in a Park in the center of Buenos Aires city and our actual place: Paseo de la Costa, besides B.A and the Río de la Plata River.

What or who inspired you to start a team?

The idea came because we wanted something more than weekend individual kite flight. We both knew about compulsory maneuvers in airplane models and we had read that they also existed in kiting. Personally, I wanted to fly more “beauty in the sky”. With more than one kite, your palette of maneuvers gets much wider. As a serious amateur musician I found the way of joining music and flight.

What other teams and flyers (past and present) have been a major influence?

Our first influence and technical help was Austin End Of the Line Team, who kindly gave us their support.

In 2001, I had the opportunity to meet Equipo 2600, at Bogotá (Colombia); it was very important because it was the first time I could compare our flying with another team and fly with them as well.

Two guys who have been VERY important to us are Troy Gunn and Al Hargus III, who have helped us a lot with their extensive experience on various sport kite teams.

Before Berck sur Mer 2004: Raphael Marieaux (Element’Air from France) and Torsten Schmitt (Garuda from Germany).

During Berck 2004: ALL TEAMS, plus Ray Bethell and David Hansen. They were absolutely terrific. We have so much to learn.

After Berck 204: Ray Bethel, WATNU, Garuda, Cutting Edge, Scratch Bunnies and Element’Air.

What do you look for when selecting team kites?

Our experience is still growing, so we must see what other people use. Since our what we learned was an “old school” style, we did not fly tricks: only precision. This is definitely changing now.

Up to now we designed our own kites, based on pictures and tests on the Web, because we simply can not pay $300 USD for a kite.

Raphael Marieaux and his team gave us a hand in design and bridle modifications after Berck… Now we are looking for a new kite set: UL, STD and VTD. They must be equipped for tricks, since we are still expanding our currently limited trick knowledge.

Perhaps a local or foreign sponsor? Everything is possible.

Do you fly with staggered or even length lines, and why?

We have always flown even length lines. We considered it to be a good method; you can change flyers positions or add more of them at the drop of a hat. We, as a multi team, very often fly in different formations and changing positions, depending of the number of flyers present on any given day of practice, especially when it is for fun and learning.

How do you go about selecting team music, what do you look for and how do you approach ballet as opposed to precision?

I will give my personal opinion, since I was the one who selected the music for the only real ballet routine we have flown so far… The one we used for the 2004 World Championships in Berck sur Mer, France.

At that time, my opinion was that music for ballet must have no lyrics. Then, as an Argentinean team, we must use a tango. I must search for one with different moods. Conclusion: I chose a Piazzola’s tango, an Argentinean contemporary music, not the real traditional tango sung by Gardel.

While I was hearing the tango, I could imagine a story related by the music components and moods, so I decided to show this story with our kites. It was a difficult job.

I divided the music into seconds, bars and beats and make a script, assigning the different parts of the story to the corresponding music. Then, I selected the possible maneuvers we could fly to express the tale within the different parts of our music.

Symmetry? Not at all. Three against one. The good guys against the bad guys.

I admit it is hard to see the story in the air if you don’t know it before hand. It’s like a theater ballet oeuvre.

My personal opinion is that Ballet is the most important part of team kiting, since I consider it a true art/sport.

My feelings and sensations around music are very strong and I do like to share with the audience the dance we do with our kites in the sky. It is a lot like singing. The feelings when you are on stage are terrific, especially if you give yourself over to the audience.

When competing, I think that the precision routine is where every team must show their skills in risky movements, accuracy, symmetry, landings, axels and so on.

But again, my objective in ballet is to capture the audience with the music I have chosen and the maneuvers selected for each mood. I want spectators to not forget our routine. But then, judging ballet is a subjective thing and hard to manage.

I remember when I saw and heard for the first time the routine of Element’Air in Berck 2004: it shocked me totally. My eyes shone every time I saw them during the whole World Team Championships.

Who writes your precision/technical routines, and how do they approach it?

Our technical routines are written by a combination of all the flyers, generally based on a one person’s initial concept. Even when we are learning it, we may add, discard or change maneuvers in order to correct entanglements and get something that satisfies everyone.

Obviously we look at other teams’ routines and choose the maneuvers we like best, but we try to design some by ourselves, something new.

Some guys of the team use Cyberkite. I prefer handmade drawings.

What kind of a practice schedule do you maintain?

Our normal practices are on Saturday’s evenings, for 5 to 6 hours. But during preparations for the 2004 World Championships we practiced Saturdays as always, plus on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 PM to 10 PM, after jobs and school. We are very lucky because our practice place has very tall lights: it is a park over the side of the Rio de la Plata River.

How do you prepare for extreme wind conditions, high or low?

Definitely, we do prepare to suffer.

At the moment we don’t have real UL or SUL kites and our vented ones still need additional brakes in high conditions. The two first days of competition in Berck 2004 we had to fly in the lowest winds, walking and walking to “make” wind. Our scores were terrible.

We hope the new kites will mend this situation. Which kites? We do not know.

What do you enjoy the most about flying on a team?

Well, simply flying as part of a team. I can see that all those who fly in a more or less organized team often do not like to fly alone again. Even when I tell them they will get better if they practiced in this way, they do not; they consider flying alone too boring.

Inside El Fabuloso Team there is a “just for fun” team and it exists because we all enjoy sharing the air. Some Saturdays we fly a pseudo mega team with all the members in attendance, it is a way of play, like when you meet friends to play soccer or baseball or tennis.

Do you have any recommendations to someone who is thinking of starting a team?

I think that only crazy guys (like me, for instance) could decide to or at least consider starting a team from scratch. And that craziness is the power needed to start. Once you accept you are crazy for kites, things go easy and better.

If you really want to have a team that remains through time, you need to find people who are crazy like you. This sport is not for everyone; it is only for special people who like kites more than anything.

When you have the idea and the people, it is imperative that some objectives and rules are established in order to avoid future surprises… Considerations include time, money, competences, tastes, practices, responsibilities.

In two weeks from now I will travel to Rosario city where there are two new starting teams. They are in their first steps for team kite flying, practicing some maneuvers I have sent them and we will have the first workshop of Argentina. When El Fabuloso Team begun to fly team, almost five years ago, we did not have any manual; now this new team will at least have our modest experience to start with and work from.

How does someone go about soliciting sponsors for a team?

This is a subject that makes me sad… We could not get any sponsors, except Argentina’s first kite manufacturer. We needed help to travel to Berck 2004 and no one gave us any assistance: we asked to all kind of industries and enterprises with no luck.

Today I think that only kite related manufacturers might have a little interest in sponsoring us. Help could simple include better prices in kites, lines, rods and spare parts. Maybe you must know that for Argentinean people, kite materials are very expensive now. It is very hard to have a three or four kite sets (UL, STD and VTD) because of the price. But if you do not have them, you definitely run into major obstacles as a team.

What are some of the biggest hurdles in keeping a team together?

Lack of humility is one of the most important ways to destroy a team, and any break from constant learning and practicing alone is very dangerous too.

Different taste in music can also be an obstacle, especially for me.

A different objective between members is a cancer. Personal objectives could change through time… I think that there must be a designated captain who organizes and decides, knowing the objectives and team possibilities, the way things will be done. If there is no captain, anarchy is present in a minute and it is the beginning of the end for the team.

What are your philosophies on a team’s inter-personal dynamics?

Inside a team everyone must know for sure what he/she is really good for and offers it to the team.

We know that everyone is a different person and we try to survive with this. For instance, I am a studious man, a very meticulous and perfectionist one. I consider these are my source of power.
We must let each other be themselves. That is the way.

It is not a good deal to push anyone to do something. Everyone must know perfectly what the team expects from and do it.

After two to four years of knowing each other, we continue on our track. It is not easy.

Do team members get together for non-flight activities?

We only have our End of Year Supper (barbeque).

It is a matter of free time and distance we do not get together more often.

Our practices have lots of friendship moments and “mates” (a national kind of tea leaves we share from the same recipient). That is enough. Usually when we have a demonstration, wives and kids come with us. We always we have a family atmosphere, dog included.

Have you ever reviewed your routines on video, and how has it been useful?

Only after a participation in a demonstration, or Berck 2004 do we see any video. But normally video is taken for records but not to improve our flight. 🙁

We did not meet to see our videos together in order to know our mistakes and successes: very bad.

I know that video review could be the way to get better, but tell me: would not everyone fly better because he/she knows it is been recorded in order to see where he/she is failing?

Having attended the World Team Championships for the first time in 2004, what did you think of the experience?

Having the opportunity to attend the World Team Championships was a miracle for us: truly a God’s gift.

First of all, it obliged us to commit totally and begin to work on a new technical routine and specially, to compose a ballet routine (we used to fly with music, not over music). We must transform ourselves in some months into a good team for our repeat trip to the WC.

Berck sur Mer 2004 allowed us to meet the best kite flyers in the world and to see their routines. Everyone gave us help and support, it was an accelerated course of team flying.

You must think about this: it was our very first competition at all; there were no teams in Argentina at that time who were competing. Can you imagine our nerves when we entered the Berck arena for the first time? Or when we heard Kathy Jarvis saying: “Judges are ready”?

I will always remember the last sunny days, when competition was over, and nerves calmed down, enjoying the ballet routines of all the teams (but specially Element’Air one) and when we had the right wind speed for our kites, we could fly our tango for the spectators and hear their loud applause.

Everything was a dream, an unforgettable experience.

What thoughts do you have on kiting’s influence on global culture?

Kiting is a kind of craziness, as every hobby “lived” in a deep, passionate way is.

Internet helps to promote kite culture and I think that it encourages people to start or return to kites. It also helps to know the different types of kites of every country.

I specially like that there are some things needed to fly kites seriously: wind, air, sky: this is NATURE; and then you also need skills, dedication, and knowledge increase: this is CULTURE. I think it is an ecological hobby that helps us to relax from everyday stress.

Kiting is not a rock music show, a Formula One race or a Soccer World Championship. Kiting has not the popularity or the possibilities of TV transmission as of yet. Kiting is not for all the people: it needs some kind of internal culture, some air and inner feelings to share and to fly.

I can not care too much if kiting will have a global influence. It is enough for me if I can influence my neighbors or my friends with my pleasure of flight and “infect” one person per month to fly kites.

Is kite flying popular in Argentina?

There are countries with an important kite culture, through centuries. For them, kiting is like soccer to Argentina or Brazil. It is easiest to fly kites in these countries.

Our country has not a kite culture like Japan. In Argentina, most of the people think that kites are for children. But you are not considered a child if you still continue playing soccer at the age of 50!

Kiting is something that was practiced 30 years ago: fathers with their children, flying a kite made of cane and paper (sometimes, newspaper one) in autumn evenings.

As you know, today a computer game is often more attractive to a child than to work on a kite, so, you will see only grown up men flying their self-made kites or a weekend father with a cheap polyethylene kite (he surely does not know how to build one).

There is only one important kite festival in Argentina, at Rosario City, and it is growing year by year. Maybe this will encourage other people to organize other festivals.

How well known is sport kiting in your country?

In Argentina you can see everyday more and more cheap sport kites in the air, especially at the beaches.

Every practice people tell us: “this is the first time I have seen this kind of kite, I thought they were radio controlled”.

We try to spread this sport and team flying because we enjoy it a lot. We also go to fly demonstrations in air shows, or accompanying our kite sponsor to their commercial events.
We are trying to organize our national championship and we are sure that this will help to promote this sport in our country.

We know about teams in Colombia and Argentina. Do you know something about teams from other South American countries?

In Colombia there is a well organized championship with six teams competing. The Colombian champion, Equipo 2600 was at Berck 2004 with us.

We have heard about a Bolivian team, but we can not find it.

In Brazil it looks like they only fly tricks, individual. In Uruguay, even they have nice beaches like Brazil, we don’t know about teams.

In Chile they fly fighters but no team at all. We do not know anything about teams in Venezuela, Paraguay, Perú and Ecuador.

I think that money is the principal reason, but culture too.

Is there any association that joins kite flyers together in Argentina or South America?

In Argentina there is no any official association, only independent groups or little clubs.

In South America, by the moment we only have a very new Yahoo group to gather kite fliers of all kind from South America. It is called SurAmeriKites and we hope it is the beginning of such an association.

From the beginning of 2004 we are talking about a sport kite association with some Colombian flyers. We hope that during 2005 it will be ready. It will be the SASKA (South America Sport Kites Association).

Some of your team is quite young, how did they become active with the team?

From the very first time we started with El Fabuloso Team I thought that teenagers must be the future. Every time a teenager came to ask or just to watch us flying, I started to convince them to try it.

When I met Ezequiel Fernández for the first time, the lad that came with us to WC 2004, he was flying a Christmas gift kite. I asked him if he wants to learn something more and he said: yes.

Well, the next week he was flying perfectly the things I told him.

I offered him the opportunity to join a team of teenagers. At that time we had only one young guy, Matías, which I captured in the same way some months before.

Ezequiel then became the captain of the Team Junior because of his power.

Finally, his father, Fabián, joined the Seniors Team. We use Ezequiel as the substitute #3 flyer while we prepare for Rosario’s Festival 2003. Since the #3 flyer could not come to this festival, he flew with us. Then, invitation to Berck sur Mer arrived and he was the #3 flyer chosen to go, so we had both father and son in our competitive team.

But there are the other Fabian’s sons: Team Tropita. They fly in front of public and they have their own routine. When the wind is high, we must literally hold onto them from behind during their shows otherwise they get pulled away.

What is it about kiting that most appeals to you now and keeps you involved?

Personally I want to fly ART: kites in conjunction with music.

I want to be a so good flyer that flying becomes natural to me as singing in front of people and then transmit the magic. I want to share the feelings music and flying produce to me with the spectators.

Do you see any differences in the way festivals are done in the USA, compared to other countries?

I know that big festivals are done in USA, Europe and Asia.

I only know personally the kite festivals of my country, Colombia’s Kite Festival which I attended in 2001 and now Berck sur Mer in 2004.

Differences are notorious. In South America we have no much money to make a big festival. I hope to see a kite festival like Berck sur Mer in my country before I die.

At the moment, I only know of a kite festival in USA by way of a video I saw two years ago, it might have been a national convention. I can say that it makes me remember a lot Berck sur Mer 2004.

Do you feel the kiting scene will ever become mainstream, and how might we go about making it happen?

I can talk about only about my country:

Sport kiting is just starting here. After four years of existence of my team, the first in Argentina, it seems that “something’s coming”. We were really alone these four years and maybe our website and World Championship participation made the difference, because only now new teams are starting.

We are working since we started to promote this sport/art in Argentina. Now, we are helping new teams to take their first steps. Our goal is a National Championship.

Our participation in a World Championship was very important because we could talk and fly with the top flyers. We brought tons of knowledge home to use. We still are trying to apply it to our flight.

So, COMPETENCE is the way. It allows getting better everyone. Competence pushes people to get involved, it tempts them.

LAlo, thank you very much for sharing your team’s experiences with us… This was a rare opportunity to have a glimpse into team flying in countries where the sport is still developing. Your team has a wonderful attitude, and we look forward to seeing El Fabuloso go far in the future.

We really want to thank you for the chance to share our opinions and short experiences with your readers. It is very important to us that people all over the world know about us and our country. It is also important for us that our team is interviewed in a publication such as Kitelife Magazine.