2006 Washington State Intl Kite Festival (WSIKF): Daily Updates – Day 5

Today was a most interesting day that started out with a 7:00 AM wake-up call. The first order of business was to reassemble a couple of Rev 1.5s so we could free up the shower curtain rod in order to get a quick shower. The Revs that flew in last evening’s night fly were so wet and sandy that they needed a bath and an overnight drip-dry. Then we could shower and dress and hustle out to the beach quickly to get set up for the days activities. Nope – no time for any breakfast today, but we did make it to the beach on time for the 9:00 AM Pilot’s Meeting!

We’d seen the usual “low ceiling” and “light breezes” weather when we left the motel, and didn’t give it a thought at the time. After all, it looked like the “same old – same old” to us! Still, the breezes at the beach seemed better – stronger and more “settled in” than we’d seen before. There were even a few of the “Big Toys” flying, which was a new, and rather nice, change. Today began to show some promise…

Saturday was the start of the AKA sanctioned Sport Kite competitions – something that hasn’t happened in over 20 years at WSIKF! (WISKF has been a “Festival” rather than a full competitive event since 1985). Fortunately, the Northwest Sport Kite League (NWSKL) took charge of the whole competition schedule from beginning to end – all without a single hitch. NWSKL has been running their own events for long enough now that they’re almost uncomfortable letting anyone else manage the comp process – and conversely, WSIKF had no experience to speak of in dealing with Sport Kite competitions, and seemed quite happy to have NWSKL take charge. Altogether, it was one of those Win/Win situations where everyone benefits.

Kitelife reports so regularly on NWSKL’s competitions that, for the purpose of this year’s Daily Updates, I will mention the specific comp events that occurred each day, but leave it to the reader to use the NWSKL website to track the winners and league standings. While it was important to the organizers that WSIKF offer sanctioned events, the competitions actually did little to alter the festive feeling WSIKF itself. Today’s Sanctioned competitions were Experienced Individual Ballet, Beginner Sport Kites, Open Pairs Precision, Open Team Precision, Open Team Ballet, and Master’s Individual Ballet.

And me? Well, I did “Geezer” stuff for a change. I was running on about four hours sleep (I finished my part of last night’s Updates at about 3:00 AM), so I took myself on a short walk into town for a couple of hours of “Me Time.” Naturally, by the time I got there (it being a Saturday Morning), every place that served an edible breakfast was jammed, and most had at least a 45 minute wait for a table. Well, I wandered back to the Super 8, just in time to discover they’d already closed their wonderful continental breakfast too, so I was no better off – so I grabbed a decidedly second-rate cup of coffee to go and just kept on hunting for a decent breakfast, but never found one. I also stopped by the bank to load up on money (these merchants seem to prefer cash), and the Post Office to mail a post-card, and “in town” similar activities.

By the time I’d returned to the beach and grabbed a burger and fries from one of the festival vendors, most of the day’s comps had been run plus a Mass Ascension and the ever-popular Teddy Bear Drop had gone off faultlessly. I also found and old friend I’d been missing for most of the week – the SUN! Old friend Sol was out to play finally, and the whole beach seemed to sense the change. Spirits rose, smiles popped out, and there was a decided lilt to everyone’s step.

We certainly saw jaunty attitudes in the Parade of Colors event where everyone brings their flag or banner and marches (or hobbles, in a few cases) across the boardwalk and onto the main field, very similar to the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. And after recognizing and thanking John Pollock a kite artist from Billings, Montana and Phil Scarfe from England where he constructs fine parafoil kites, we took time out for a special (as in “not on the program”) event.

Scott Slater, a local fellow who’s fairly well-known for flying the “Big Toys” had organized a group of Bol owners with the intent to establish a world record for the number of large Bols flown on one field simultaneously. So the trucks rolled onto Field “B” and unloaded 18 large Bols (“large,” as in averaging roughly 45 feet in diameter is my guess) and set them up and started them spinning… Now, Bols are one of the premier Big Toys for a festival of this sort, so seeing 18 Bols together is an awesome display to behold. Yes, they established a record, of sorts – though not quite the one these folks were after. The best they could do was 17 – full of air and spinning – at one time. All 18 Bols were out there, and 18 flew… It’s just that there was always at least one Bol that had died for some reason and couldn’t be restarted before another one died. Finally, out of time and out of people to tend the errant Bols, Scott and his friends packed it in, brought the Bols down, and packed them back into the trucks again. While they were certainly disappointed at not attaining their hopes, the crowd loved every minute of the attempt and cheered them on with gusto… What Fun!!!

Following the “Running of the Bols,” I adjourned to the iQuad corral where this group of fun-loving Revolution fliers were busy practicing for what they felt would be their grand finale – the painting of the sky with the number “25” for all to see to signify the 25th anniversary of the Washington State International Kite Festival! Well, they were extremely busy practicing their flight patterns and manoeuvres, and becoming a more precise and cohesive group with every trial run.

The original intent had been to have 25 Revolution kites in the air to form the number “25,” but it was fairly obvious to everyone that they were a few pilots short. Still, attaining that goal could be attempted with less – so the figure patterns were changed to use the available fifteen fliers and practices were ongoing at that point! And within an hour or so, iQuad met their original intent by taking to the main field and pasting the number “25” in the sky for everyone to view, complete with PA system advising the festival attendees of the number’s significance… WAY TO GO, iQuad!!!

Oh, the other events originally scheduled all occurred. All Cody kite owners gathered for a demonstration fly and mass ascension. A stunning Rokkaku challenge was mounted and run to completion as well, with a Rokkaku team named “Spam” taking top honors. And the successful running of the Open Team Ballet and Masters Individual Ballet events completed Saturday’s Sport Kite competition schedule too.

Finally, the day’s on-field work was done. Time to adjourn to the local Elk’s Club for the Banquet to help celebrate the festival’s completion and to earn the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame some operating funds. Gosh, what a fun group that was! We piled gear into the cars, headed for the Super 8 to wash our faces, and then we’re off to get something to eat. Pretty good pickings on the buffet tables too, if I do say so myself. And plenty of short speeches, too – some recognizing people (our “Featured Fliers” again), a few awards to individuals or groups, and some discussing why supporting the museum was important. Then it was time for Silent Auctions, Bag Raffles, and Live Auctions with AKA President, David Gomberg as the auctioneer.

And somewhere in the middle of the Live Auction, Sir Gomberg took a short break and turned the banquet over to Rick White for a much anticipated announcement. It was Rick’s job to announce the “People’s Choice” awards, in two categories – “People” and “Kites.” And as you may have guessed by now, iQuad won both categories, pulling away.

See you tomorrow!

Daily updates by:

John Barresi
Dave “Geezer” Shattuck