2006 Washington State Intl Kite Festival (WSIKF): Daily Updates – Day 4

WOW, what a day!

It all started with a 6:45 alarm, followed by the extra nice Continental Breakfast here at the Super 8 in Long Beach, WA. They put on a fine morning spread, and we all had enough to eat. Good thing too, because it got to be a l-o-n-g day at the beach today, though a mighty rewarding one.

Climbing into the car for the short ride to the beach, we saw our very low cloud cover, again. So low that we’d fly in the vapors pretty much throughout the day. You’d think it would get tiring losing your kite in the stuff, but strangely, it’s to the point where it hardly bothers us anymore. We had good wind and temps in the low 60s – and no precip – so it was really nothing to worry about. So off we go to the beach! Once there, the first stop is the Espresso stand for a double-shot Mocha, while Barresi and company began to set up the iQuad corral again, and about 50 feet away, Ben D’Antonio of Rrevolution was flying an 8-stack of Rev 1.5s in some fairly stout wind.. Another fun-filled day was underway.

My first task of the morning was to complete repairs to an old Perigrine sport kite that I’d been given. I finally had all the parts now, and was only missing the length measurement for the upper spreader, so I wandered off to the Above It All (kite shop) booth and cornered Dave Colbert for some specs. All of a sudden, my world filled with four Perigrine owners, and all were delighted to help. I soon had my spreader measurement, went back to the kite-van, effected the repairs, found a set of 150# lines, and was soon flying my “new” Preigrine. Thanks, guys! Meanwhile, the iQuad gang had already thrown several kites into the air and we were all up and rolling!

Speaking of iQuad, this seemingly “rag-tag” mob of pilots coming together from all over the country is truly amazing. Yes – I AM biased, perhaps… but it is truly astounding to watch these guys come together to learn, to teach each other, to practice, to perform, and to openly share absolutely everything they’re doing with the entire WSIKF crowd. For all but three of the pilots flying so far, this week at WSIKF is the first time any of them have flown on a team before – ANY kind of team. In addition, many of the elements and stunts they’re practicing AND PERFORMING now hadn’t even been conceived of (by anyone present, at least), a week ago… Other maneuvers were borrowed from footage of the European quad line teams.

It’s mostly being done on the fly however, on the field, and in the heads of the pilots present. There is NO textbook. BUT – they’ve pulled together with pure joy and delight in their hearts, incredible belief in themselves, a phenomenal capacity for pure unbridled “fun,” and genuine pleasure at the thought of what they’re doing out there on the cutting edge of kiting! Of course, having Lolly Hadzicki and Ben D’Antonio from Revolution Kites in supportive attendance doesn’t hurt their egos much, either – but this “unruly mob” is well past anything either of these Revolution folks could teach them at this point. anyway. More on iQuad later in this report, however…

And me? I put the Preigrine away after a brief flight (some lose connectors need replacing) and went in search of another Mocha – since I’d knocked the first one over in the back of the van when I was repairing the Perigrine. Okay – got coffee – what’s next? So I wandered around in the “pits” (the parking area) and watched a couple of the mass ascensions – one on cellular kites, and one on the flat-and bowed kites. Interesting stuff. I even tried a couple of photo shots, but was perhaps too far away to get much detail.

While there, I happened onto Steve Brown, down from British Columbia with his brand new Ichiban from Blue Moon Kites in North Carolina. What a pretty kite with its all white sails. When Steve finally put it in the air for it’s maiden flight, I tried to get some decent photos of that one too. My initial reaction on seeing the pics on the monitor was, “Nope – No go!” but then I took ‘em on a quick run-through in Photoshop and got ‘em all the way up to “Maybe…”

Anyway, I finally decided to shoot some photos over on the “Big Toys” field… Even though the overcast is very low (maybe “undercast?), there’s enough color to make the stroll worthwhile and there’re some pretty unique kites out there… So I wander around, sticking my camera in a “Blue Meanie’s face, and up a Spinsock’s tailpipe, and grab a couple of shots of four octopi and a scuba-diver “swimming” through the overcast… There’re also some ladybugs, a few elephants, and various other creatures worth looking at – and shooting.

There’re also some strange-looking kites that Barry “Bazzer” Poulter has created. They look like tall triangles with their tops chopped off, and some of those fuzzy “loop” tails like the ones you see on Della-Portas. So I was intrigued enough to stop and chat with Bazzer about them. Well – we got to yakkin’, and with one thing and another, I didn’t get too much info on these tetrahedral kites of his, save only that the sail colors are at least partially painted on using some kind of fairly indelible method.

And then, I happened to glance up overhead, and saw three shadowy streaks well up into the mist above. It turns out that those streaks are actually Barry’s newest and hottest kite – the “Commet.” Yep – the same kite that’s up as a raffle prize on the AKA’s website. That is one AMAZING kite. Yes, I’ve seen Frank Schweiman’s original Pyros in the air before. And I fell in love with Carl Robertshaw’s Delta Serpent when I saw them, both in Chico, California at a fun-fly and at the World Sport Kite Championships in Lincoln City, Oregon last year. But I have to say – Bazzer’s “Commet” doesn’t give a thing away to either of those other kites. At least 25 yards long. Roughly 4 feet wide. Flies as if “pasted” on the sky – yes, truly that steadily. And for such a large kite, amazingly little pull. I walked over to one of the tethered lines and discovered what I considered to be “spindly” fly-line on the thing, and Barry acknowledged that he was using “something in the neighbourhood of 135# test line.” Well, you can probably guess from the words I’ve used above whether or not I like the “Commet.” Lovely, incredible kite!

I eventually ran out of questions to ask the delightful Mr. Poulter, however, and decided to wander back to see what iQuad was doing. So a short stroll found me settling into John Barresi’s chair (Well, HE wasn’t using it…) to relax a moment, when someone hollered “Grab a camera, someone…” I looked up, and these guys were working their Revolutions into a 6-kite REFUEL manoeuvre! Did I mention that they’re tinkering on the edge of reality a bit? Well, they got that one mastered, and I got the “good” shot this time, too. So iQuad mastered their break-away as if they’d been doing it for years, and I nestled into the chair again for a short break.

By this time, it was about 5:15 PM. Gosh – where’d the whole day go? I hadn’t even had time to grab a bite to eat since I left the Super-8, over eight hours ago. Maybe time for me to wrap my day on the field up, since I had one more stop to make before I headed “home” to start putting these updates together. About then, John and the rest of iQuad began to break up and head for the barn too. We needed to be off the field before 5:30 because the real Pyro guys (fireworks technicians) would be putting on a display tonight after the night-fly, and they needed a clear beach to set the “goodies” up.

So I got out of there while the getting was good, and headed over to the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame, a short drive away. Lots of nice people gather there every year to tour the museum, sip wine, eat “munchies” and listen to some (thankfully) short speeches announcing the new inductees into the Hall of Fame. Nice group of folks there. Interesting conversations, too. And kind of nice to be indoors talking kites rather than standing out on the sand in the wind again.

When all was said and done, the Hall of Fame inducted two new people – Don Tabor of Top Of The Line in San Diego, California, and Chen Zhao Ji from China. Mr. Ji makes oriental kites the old traditional way – out of bamboo and hand-painted silk, but his claim to fame is that he puts windmills on his kites – that drive handmade gears – which in turn animate portions of his kites. Eyes that move, and arms that wave… that sort of thing. Both men broke new ground in their own pursuit of kiting excellence, and – as such – are worthy members of the Hall of Fame in my humble opinion.

John Barresi and iQuad opted to spend the evening at the night-fly – “WOWing” the crowd with their incredible, innovative flying again. They stayed on through the fireworks, of course – and even flew their Revs while rockets were exploding in the air overhead… Using lights lent from James Thompson, iQuad mazimized their opportunity to put on a show, and turned a foggy fireworks show into a total package. A magical show, as the team and crowd were treated to a “once in a lifetime” kind of experience. Words fail to express how breathtaking it really was.You’ll just have to see it next year.

Me? I chose a good dinner in a warm restaurant instead! I truly believe my belly would have flat-out rebelled had I gone on much longer without food, and I was tired and sore from my efforts today, and just darned glad to stay indoors once I got there. Nope – I have no idea who attended the Indoor fly tonight. There is just too much happening at WSIKF to experience it all…

Tomorrow’s another day, though… So is there something new and wonderful just around the corner? I dunno – who can tell? But this is WSIKF, after all, so I can promise you two things… 1) We’re gonna have a WHOLE LOTTA FUN regardless of what happens! 2) You can read all about it in Kitelife’s “Daily Updates” right here. So stay tuned!

See you tomorrow!

Daily updates by:

Dave “Geezer” Shattuck
John Barresi
Todd Rudolph