Issue 44: Washington State Intl Kite Festival

Coming straight off the Summer Heat sport kite competition further north in Ocean Shores, I rode down to Long Beach with my good friend David Hathaway late on Sunday afternoon… Unlike last year when I was part of the invited guest Team TKO and was doing daily updates to Kitelife, this year would have me snoozing away each night in the back of another friend’s Jeep… But, I honestly can’t complain about a thing – it was all wonderful!

Waking up around 6:30am eager to hit the beach on Monday morning, I made my regular stop by the Cottage Bakery for coffee and a pastry then made my way out to the field… On the way, I ran into the true early birds – Doc Counce (who may have been the first one with a kite in the air that morning) and Barry “Bazzer” Poulter (who was on the way to get his own hot cup of coffee). On the way, I took a shot of the arch… Little did I know what was about to occur.

After going back into town for a refill on my coffee I was making my way back to the beach and I heard a tremendous ***!!!!CRASH!!!!*** around the corner.  Going to investigate, I was absolutely stunned to find that a Pepsi truck had tried to drive under the Long Beach arch and didn’t have the clearance… It tore that arch’s top cleeeeeeaaaaaan off, wedging it firmly between the trailer and the cab of the truck. The occupants were plain lucky that the arch didn’t come down directly on top of the cab as it probably would have injured them quite badly (or worse)… Also, rumor had it that the person riding shotgun was the son of Long Beach’s Mayor, can you imagine? To make matters worse, there were thirty or so people standing around taking photos (yes, guilty as charged)!

The first events kicked off later that afternoon, starting with Arches and Trains which engulfed field “A”… At the same time, David Hathaway and myself set up our Revolution kites for a healthy bout of quad line flying in the sweet 3-6 mph breeze.

Nearby, this year’s invited guest from the Netherlands (Robert Valkenburgh) was starting in on his wind sculpture… For those not familiar with his work, he is well known for creating large artistic wind instruments out of whatever is available at any given festival. Bamboo, cellophane and rope were on the menu this time… From these, he started in on a Pterodactyl-looking monster which would take him most of the week to finish – even with help from several others.

Later in the day some other Revolution pilots showed up to give lessons in a dedicated demo field, including Alan Cunningham, Dave Brewster and Penny Lingenfelter. Along with Hathaway, they spent most of the week on that field introducing people to the wonderful world of quad line flying… Later on in the day, some of them got together with Dan Burnham and Steve Brown for a bit of team Rev flying between the demo fields.

At some point I took a cruise down the beach for a bit of dual line medicine and spent a minute with Wynne Lincoln-Rowson on his Nirvana, as well as talking Amy “Trilbymouse” Doran’s out of her new Nighthawk for a spell… Shortly after, I trotted over to young Cody Anderson and checked out his spiffy rainbow New Jam. Cody’s always got a great attitude, and is a pleasure to hang out with everytime.

After wandering around for the rest of the day, I ran into my teammate Scott Ralston (from TKS Mid-Air) and the ever-lovely Theresa from the Kite Shoppe in Vancouver… As the day came to a close, we got a few people and headed over to the local Thai restaurant – which is AWESOME by the way, and always leaves you with plenty of leftovers! Now full, and with a big grin on my face, I curled up in the back of the Jeep and slid off into a contented sleep.

Waking up early again on Tuesday morning, I did my usual coffee and pastry ritual, then wandered down onto the beach again around 6am for some more crack-o-dawn photo opportunities… Sometimes it’s better to get ’em while they’re still blinking!

On a funny note, Andy Tauber and some of the other kite fliers erected a temporary arch in Pepsi’s honor composed of red, white and blue fabric, and adorned with various Pepsi cups and cans for full effect… Ohhhhh, good one Andy!

As the day kicked in, the demo fields were overtaken by “Totally Tubular”, “Pun Fun” as well as individual and team Rokkaku battles. While they were no doubt an absolute blast, I had the wind in my hair and needed to go fly… So, I picked up one of my trusty Sea Devils and spent the rest of the afternoon tearing up the skies in wonderful 3-5 mph winds.

The evening was fairly uneventful for me, and I turned in early having spent nearly four hours flying non-stop… This would turn out to be my laid-back day, as things would have it.

Wednesday was another early morning, and I was in the mood for something different… Aha, perhaps a little dogstaking with my quadline! Setting up right at the edge of the road, my kite and I were about 5 feet from the constant flow of spectators that were rolling on and off the beach all day… Most of them had never seen dogstaking before, and I ended up spending nearly five hours straight just dancing with my kite.

Somewhere, sometime, Senior Ballet went on in the main field… But alas, I was too wrapped up in my flying and never got a chance to see anyone fly or who the top finishers were. Before I knew it, the time had come to pack up and head over to the WKA spaghetti feed with Hathaway and Trilbymouse for a bite to eat, as well as a raffle and auction.

After dinner, we meandered over to the school where indoor flying went on at last year’s WSIKF only to find it closed and dark… As things turned out, there would be no indoor this year due to repairs or something or other… DRAT!  That was good cause for a few cervesas and an early bed time shortly thereafter.

Refreshed and rested on Thursday morning… Time for another horrible day of kite flying, you know it’s hard work!  <grin>

Dragging my gear out onto the beach yet again, I was treated to the sight of a new excellent young flier tearing it up alternately on his Transfer XTS, Cesium and Krystal FX… Even if his skills weren’t so good, the kites alone were pretty impressive for a whipper-snapper of 17 years old!  Justin Redington came down from the Whidbey Island area to enjoy the festival, and ended up spending a great deal of time flying my Sea Devil. As things would turn out, he later ended up getting one for himself and entering his first competition at the Whidbey Island Kite Festival a month or so later… Welcome to the family Justin!

Checking back in on Valkenburgh, I was pleased to see that his sculpture was finished and being moved to an upright position so that the ribbons stretched all over it would catch the wind and start to hum, and hum they did!! Quite loudly I might add, which drew fliers and spectators alike from all over the beach to see what on earth was making that strange noise… Nice work Robert, another beautiful creation!

I also finally made the walk over to Robert Brasington’s camp… Coming all the way from Australia, Robert makes some of my favorite kites and spinners – many of which are licensed to New Tech Kites. He’s one of my favorite international kite people, and I hadn’t seen him since January of last year when I ran into and met him for the first time in India… If you get a chance to see Robert’s work, do it… Well worth it.

Winds were a fair bit higher today, starting off around 8 mph and eventually running into the 20 mph range by the end of the day… As things came to a close, I packed away all my usual kites and went to my Mirage stack which are of rhomboid design and tend to handle the high winds quite well.  After passing them around to other fliers for a bit, I was ready for some grub.

After packing my gear and meeting back up with Hathaway and Trilbymouse, we headed over the AOK potluck which is always an awesome time… Carl “The One Man Team” Bragiel worked the BBQ, serving up hot dogs and hamburgers for the 70 people or so who turned out for the evening’s festivities which included a great raffle and auction.

Fed and content yet again, I turned in for a much needed night of rest before my next exciting day on the beach.

Friday morning went as usual, with more of my teammates (Moon Kushner and Todd Rudolph) arriving that morning to spend the weekend at WSIKF… Events included an awe-inspiring display of roughly a dozen Bols staked off to vehicles, and a cool banner parade around them.

In the meantime I spent another couple of hours flying! For whatever reason, the beach turned out some beautiful pools of water that were only about an inch deep and made a great backdrop for both my Sea Devil and Revolution (click for more cool videos, thanks to Todd Rudolph)… All in all, I must have been out there for the better part of each day practicing my slack line tricks over the water.

And now for the events I’d been waiting all week for… Hot Tricks and Mystery Ballet! A whole bunch of fliers turned out for Hot Tricks, each pulling out their best moves trying to move through the elimination rounds into the finals… Here’s how it turned out:

James Thompson Thompson Herzog Barresi
Justin Redington
Wynne Lincoln-Rowson Herzog
Alex Herzog
John Barresi Barresi Barresi
Jeremy Percival
Lance Storr Storr
Kirstie Hayes

Yes indeed, twelve-year-old Herzog gave me a real run for my money pitting Sea Devil against Sea Devil with his incredible comet skills… But I out-gunned him with my multiple yo-yos (roll ups) and “low-n-slow” Jacobs Ladders, taking top honors for the event in 5-6 mph winds.

The day closed out for us with a full day of demo slots, featuring the very best of the many NWSKL fliers who had turned out to show their routines and enjoy the wonderful beach flying.

Going into Saturday, we started Mystery Ballet first thing in the morning at 9am… Roughly 15 pilots tested their skills with musical tracks chosen for them, without knowing ahead of time what they were. I had the lucky draw for the day I would say. In an attempt at humor, someone selected “If only I had a brain” from the Wizard of Oz for me, but little did they know… I used that same piece for competition back in 1993, and I was quite familiar with the track.

With the winds being fairly light, I rolled the kite up and ran one of my one-handed 360s in an attempt to push my routine over the top. The gods were kind to me… I had never tried that before, but it worked out and gave me the edge I needed to secure the win. Regardless, there were a number of stand out performances by the many stellar fliers who turned out to show off their skills.

Afterwards, I found myself out flying over the beach pools again. I can’t begin to tell you how enjoyable that was, as I must have spent a combined 20 hours out there between dual and quad line… And yes, we pulled some more footage of my Sea Devil in action.

After getting my fill and packing it in at the end of the day, I made my way over to the Saturday night banquet, auction and bag raffle. Presided over by our AKA President David Gomberg, attendees ravaged the appetizer buffet and enjoyed refreshments from the cash bar… For me, a good close to a good week… Spent with good wind, good flying, and great friends.

Hey, let’s do it again next year!

See you on the beach,

John Barresi