2006 World Sport Kite Championships: Day 1

A bit under the weather this morning, perhaps something in the previous night’s dinner… We’ve certainly had our share of challenges so far this week, from blowing out all the power in our suite, to notebook power adapters left at home, to even something as straight forward as getting internet access.

Something to note, even if you have a spiffy phrase book and you can chirp out a phrase that roughly resembles French, be prepared to be mystified at the response back to your query. We have managed to muddle our way through without a problem however. Despite these aforementioned challenges, the Berck-Sur-Mer Festival Cerfs Volants Recontres Internationales is one of the most amazing festivals you could hope to go to. The weekend crowds are huge, numbering into the tens of thousands on the first Saturday and Sunday, and everywhere you look, there is another simply amazing kite to be taken in, or an amazing display of flying dexterity.

On the schedule yesterday was an all-out banner and kite parade up and down the promenade overlooking the beach, attended by nearly every participant attending this year’s festival.

We didn’t get photos of every team as we’d hoped to do today, but managed to snap a few. With 16 teams from 9 separate countries, it was quite the feat to be able to capture them all this afternoon… There simply weren’t as many teams out at once as on previous days, partly due to the overcast skies and cold weather, partly due to the fairly high and inconsistent winds. For us, it was a case of walking back and forth across the massive beach, spotting a team as they went up and making a beeline for them, hopefully before the powerful winds had sent them back in.

The Mega Flys have been particularly amusing to watch, from all the competing teams up in the air (Due to the arrival of the Japanese teams today – we have yet to see everyone up at once) to 16-20 person Revolution mega flys. We did manage to catch a lot of this on video tape and we’ll hopefully be posting some examples of this later on. The dual line mega flys have been more successful when they have split up into two separate sides, just due to the sheer amount of kites in the air during these demonstrations.

In addition to some possible mega-fly footage, we’ll do our best to capture the ballet routines of last year’s top three teams on video for viewing here. Each day following, our goal is to post footage from winners in the previous day’s ballet round

To be clear, if all goes well, ballet winners from Tuesday will be videoed and posted on Wednesday, ballet winners from Wednesday will be posted on Thursday, Thursday winners on Friday… Since we can’t video every single team, this seemed like a fair approach.

The returning champions are pictured below… Watnu from Germany has seemed confident and in good spirits on all days, and handled today’s challenging winds with style using their vented North Shore Radicals… While also practicing heavily, Tame Bird from France has been much more relaxed in-between sessions than we saw at last year’s WSKC in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Half of the Kitelife force at this year’s WSKC, David Hathaway (of REVisions) got a few minutes with Jerry Cannon from defending 2005 world champions Cutting Edge (USA)… He shared the following with us:

DH – First of all Jerry, welcome back to Berck-Sur-Mer and what is now your third trip to the World Sport Kite Championship, this time as defending champions. How are you feeling today, is your team nervous?

JC – I wouldn’t say nervous so much as anxious and ready to go. Its awesome to be back here once again, meeting up with old friends from previous WSKC events, and making new ones.

DH – Have there been any challenges for your team so far while you have been here?

JC – Well today’s winds were certainly challenging while we were practicing. Wind speeds were ranging from 15 – 25 miles and hour and often changing within the space of minutes, but, we have practiced extensively in all kinds of winds, so we were ready for this.

DH – Any equipment changes from last’s WSKC?

JC – No, not really. Last year we used Prism’s Quantum Pros with Nirvanas as our SUL choice, which we didn’t end up needing. This year, we have the new Quantum Pro SULs for lighter winds.

DH – Have you been up to anything fun since you arrived last friday?

JC – Not so far, we have been concentrating entirely on the WSKC and practicing at every opportunity. Once we’re done with the competition, then the fun will begin for us. We have been staying at a very nice place called Le Concorde, where we’ve feasted on lamb, chicken and beautiful desserts, but that’s been it so far.

DH – And finally, is there anything you are worried about with the competitions in the days coming up?

JC – I think our biggest worry at the moment is consistent winds more than anything else. With a day like today where the wind speed has been so variable, kite and line selection can be a really hit or miss kind of situation. But, we’ve worked hard for this and I think we’re ready for whatever happens.

Needless to say, all the teams are excited and hoping for good conditions tomorrow.

Click center photo (directly above) for animated GIF!

Team4Fun (and their Dutch friends) really have made us feel at home, encouraging us to join them in team flying from the very first day we arrived on the beach. Rev team flying seems to be a pretty rare thing these days in North America and watching and learning from the people has been a true pleasure. For Hathaway, it’s been something he’s longed try for some time, and to find himself out in the main arena flying an 8 person mega Rev team was the thrill of his life. He managed to somehow not pull everyone out of the sky as well.

John also spent some time demonstrating his dog staking skills, much to the utter amazement of those watching, and thus, we achieved a true world wide sharing and exchanging of skills and ideas.

Speaking of the Dutch, as we walked back to the VIP tent last night for a nightcap after dinner, we saw some of the most beautiful lit-up Revolutions you could possibly imagine. Engineered by Heiner of Team4Fun, they were outlined in 29 separate LEDs, driven by a small battery pack. They were a bit of a handful to fly with the extra weight, but, they were just spectacular to watch.

The WSKC Judge’s internal meeting convened at 3pm in the main tent, with all five judges, the field director and scorekeeper presiding… Having ironed out a few last minute details, done the selection of compulsories for round one and comparing notes between all judges, the pilot’s meeting was held at 4pm, where Gerard, Gomberg and Mitchell welcomed the teams, introduced the staff and announced the flight order for tomorrow.

The first pre-flight meeting is scheduled for 9:30am tomorrow, where the first three compulsories will be announced… Precision is expected to run for roughly four hours, with a 15 minute break in the middle (between 8 and 9 in the flight order), then a lunch recess, and on to round one of ballet which should be completed in about 2 hours or so.

Well, we’re still under the weather and John’s got to judge in the  morning… Best to grab a pillow now, and we’ll bring you the really good stuff tomorrow.

**Article: David Hathaway & John Barresi**