Issue 50: Golden Gate Challenge

Once again, Brian Champie, the AKA Regional Director for the Northern California Kite Club and the Bay Area Sport Kite League (BASKL) gathered us all together for our annual kite championship competition held at spacious Ocean Beach here in San Francisco. Despite our chronic low overcast skies that have persisted for weeks, it was not cold or wet as predicted. Saturday morning started off with scanty low winds then gradually improved with our famous offshore winds rustling at a steady 8-10 mph. This being a satisfactory wind range brought noooo complaints.

BASKL events are fully sanctioned by the American Kitefliers Association. All skill levels are invited to fly with BASKL where you can learn from one another while exchanging ideas and having fun. Meanwhile, all the points you accumulate in competition, you also earn AKA points that may lead to qualification to compete at the next AKA convention. So somewhere in the breezes are flying a plethora of goals to reach out for in enhancing your kite life. No excuses.

Brian had a hellava time obtaining porta potties and this was the second round that the potty people didn’t deliver! There were plenty o’ jokes over this and humor is the only way to go when adversity slaps you in the rear.

Meanwhile, ol’ Mr. Kite who practically lives on the beach while launching his homemade monstrosities; kinda behaved himself although he still likes to be the beach lord. This time he occupied a large space very close to our fields for his single line kites that crawled up a lengthy fly line. At first, he prohibited anyone including Brian to fly in his kite space. However, come hell or high water Brian won out as we captured his beautiful and elegant flow form kite carrying two humongous tails and dozens of small American Flags scaling up the line taking a solid stand. His sister, Sharon, ran the Fighter Kite event nearby. Hooray for bravery! Later, Brian’s large Ghost Delta flew beautifully over the seawall as if watching the proceedings.

At these events, we all sort of watch the crowds to make sure the boundary area is safe from intruders. One scary moment occurred when four sub-teens spotted several large kites resting safely beside the flying area one seawall away. One hollered, “Oh, let’s play with the kites.” I didn’t hear this (a friend told me later), but I happen to look toward my left and spotted the children swinging the kites around including mine with all the fly line stretched out! A lady and I ran over and kindly explained that the kites are being used in competition and the dangers of not knowing how to handle a large kite of this sort. The kids understood and I had one girl take my fly line straps and move back to where it was anchored. Luckily, no line was tangled and we avoided a mess. Then we had a 10-year old who wanted to sit in the middle of the flying field and watch the activity directly overhead! We couldn’t get him to move. Big Brian came over and still he wouldn’t move. The child may not have understood our English language, but after five minutes, his parents took him off the field for his safety. Then another “field” guest was 4-legged! A large dog stood completely fascinated by a stunt kite in the air. But in short time, on his own, he trotted quickly out of the danger area. Hey, doggie brains are great!

Some competition events had only two entries, but excellent fliers. I flew in the Novice Individual Dual-Line Ballet with another lady, Cara Randall. I watched her practicing the day before with her friends and admired her energetic talent in making her kite sing and dance with various tricks. She had been flying for only a year and appeared more qualified for Hot Tricks, but she signed up to the Novice Individual Dual-Line Ballet routine. I was the first one to go out on the field. This time, the winds cooperated for my nice three-minute routine using a 45-foot purple tail with a colorful new Beetle kite. It looked great in the sky as I kept my routine short and flew a clean program. Cara followed afterward and since this was her first competition, her friends and I cheered her on. She finished with a substantial flying routine, good music and lo and behold, she came in First Place. Well done!

By now, a few Traction kites hit the beach taking the buggies and surf kiters up and down the waterline. Far in the distance was Ken Osterlund, a San Bruno resident who flies with the artistic Sundowners using the patriotic colors of the American Flag. Today, it was just Ken with his thirteen-kite train. He likes to practice at Ocean Beach and when combined with the rest of the team, they really present a fascinating practice session. With the other impressive single line kites, the sky was richly decorated and put everyone in kite heaven.

Wayne Fu and Aaron Champie of “Airzone” Flight Team flew at days end and added a marvelous climax to the day’s competition. They both won First, Second and Third places many times as well as Vince Maranta taking First Place in the Masters Individual Quad Ballet and the Masters Individual Quad Precision. In the Open Kite Fighting, Felix Durairaj also won First Place with a whopping 33 points over Aaron Champie. Then we had a team from Sacramento called, a Sense of Humor Required (SOHR) that put on a nice routine in the Experienced Pairs Precision. For the complete results, see

At about 4:30, we wrapped things up and after taking down the tents and putting chairs and loud speakers in their trucks, came the prize awards in each division. These prizes are tall glass mugs designed with “Northern California Kite Club” and logo that includes the category of the winner’s place. Arnold Stelema had the honors this time of calling out the winners I was happy to have been presented with Second Place. Arnold got two prizes himself and is a man of many talents including an outstanding Master of Ceremonies.

In comparison to last year, our competitors were somewhat less this time; however, every flier continued to weave a tapestry of excellent flying enjoyed by all including the crowds of spectators and those dining in the restaurant located across the roadway. The Golden Gate Challenge is always an important and pivotal event for one can re-connect with kiter friends, be a judge, volunteer at ground duties, and of course compete if you can (get a nice Golden Gate Challenge T-shirt too) while supporting our Bay Area Sport Kite League. Kudos for Brian & Co. for another fun filled kiting competition and a challenging way to participate in your kite family.

    Joan H. Laurino