2006 AKA Convention: Day 5

Wow, it’s Friday already… This convention is nearly over – and we’re all having so much fun, nobody’s noticed! And I wouldn’t either, except that all the competitions are completed, so all the pressure’s off. Yeah – they’re completed, but only the names below “medal” level (below 1st, 2nd, or 3rd) are posted now, and the results of the big competitions up at the front of the pack won’t be announced until tomorrow night!

Still, let’s start at the beginning…

For the first time since we arrived on Sunday, we all slept in this morning. That’s so unusual that it’s almost astounding, even though it actually happened. But, we woke up late and didn’t have to hurry anywhere, so all the pressure was off – well, sorta… And, lest you think we’re all sluggards and lay-a-beds, by “woke up late,” I meant we didn’t have a 6:30 or 7:00 AM wake up call – but we were all up and at ‘em well before 8:00 AM. Yes, both roommates were involved in major competitions today, but the pressure to get anywhere or do anything early was gone. We didn’t have to be anywhere until we went to the field about 11:00 AM. That meant plenty of time for a hot shower, good breakfast, and even time for a second cup of coffee… We skipped the morning workshop sessions (Yep, just like kids playing hookey…), and eased into our morning kinda slowly, and we made sure everyone had all their proper gear… then off to board the shuttle.

Oh yeah, what workshops did we miss? Well – Making an AKA Table Banner, Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) Play Per View, Into to Fighter Kite Competition, National Kite Month Activities, and something called How To Post On The Kite Forums… So if you wanted to attend these workshops, you should have been here!

Anyway, once we arrived at the Flying Field, there still wasn’t all that much to do immediately. It was a bright, sunny day, but wind conditions were generally “light and variable,” which means, as one of the pilots said, “the same crappy wind we had yesterday.” And, since we arrived at about 11:15, and the first official event wouldn’t occur for another hour and a quarter, I had some time to kill.

So I spent some time just wandering around, saying “Hi” to folks. I stepped into the Sound Tent for the Sport Kite Competitions, and greeted Tracy Erzin AKA’s premier scorekeeper…and a lady who’s also been happy to watch my knapsack all week long when I’ve been at the Flying Field, and I spent a few minutes with Linda Sanders, the new AKA Director for Region #13, the International – meaning the rest of the world beyond USA’s borders. Said “Hello” to Lee Sedgwick, who has spent quite a bit of time at the Flying Field this week, playing with what he calls a “Round Flying Object” which is really a UFO with some bracing and venting that Lee flies on a quad-line rig he’s made. It’s a fascinating new toy and quite a flier in the right hands (meaning Lee’s at this point). And I re-met and said “Hi” to Erin Edeikin, who was born a few months after her father, Steve Edeikin, died in a tragic kite accident in 1983. She and her friend Maggie came to the AKA Convention this year to re-connect with kiting – bringing her father’s 6-pack of Rainbow kites (made by her father’s kite company) to fly. They’re a couple of very nice young women, and they have been very warmly welcomed by the AKA “family.” And I wandered here and there and shot a few photos…

The first Sport Kite Competitions – running simultaneously – were Masters Team Precision on Field #2, Experienced Pairs Ballet of Field #3, and Experienced Multi-Line Precision back on Field #5. I knew people flying in Masters Team Precision, and in Experienced Multi-Line Precision. But Field #5 is a long way back behind the other fields, so I chose to watch the Masters Team Precision and Experienced Pairs Ballet events, and shoot random photos of particularly attractive kites wherever I found them. Probably a good choice, but one never quite knows.

Watching the Precision events is actually quite interesting – IF you really know what you’re watching. The pilots are flying pre-determined figures in the sky, but in the “light and variable” breezes (meaning from 1-8 MPH for speed and any-which-way for wind-direction) it was fairly easy to blow a critical component with a kite. And in the case of teams, the number of fliers with a kite in the air makes a big difference, since fewer kites means fewer chances to screw up in that “light and variable” wind, with the opposite being true as well of course… and in Pairs Precision and Individual Precision, the chances of wind-related errors decreases with the number of kites.

And the same thing is true for Ballet of course… It’s quite as easy for a kite to get out of alignment, or blow a corner, or lose your spacing between kites in a gust or a lull, in Ballet as it is in Precision, of course – and we’d see Masters Team Ballet on the same field immediately after the Masters Team Precision event finished.

And, with three teams flying, it’s impossible at this point to give any final results since all three teams will medal in both disciplines – Precision and Ballet. Therefore, we’ll wait until tomorrow to give you the placings and final scores, which will be announced at the Awards Banquet tomorrow night. Let’s just say that all three teams acquitted themselves as well as they could, given “trying wind conditions.”

Over on Field #3, it was much the same story as far as winds went, except we were dealing with Experienced Pairs Ballet (to be followed by Precision later, and on another field), so it was easier for the pilots to “look good” in the air. We had six teams flying Ballet (and five flying Precision). And like Masters Team Precision, we’ll announce final scores and placings tomorrow – as we will with all of the other competition results. See the photos of the score sheets for those pairs that didn’t place.

Finally, back on Field #5, Experienced Multi-Line Precision was running, but those pilots were all flying Revolution kites, and they are much less susceptible to varying wind conditions. Yep – precision again, and I was certainly interested in seeing the competitions, but never did get back to Field #5 to see what was happening out there.

(TBA top three videos from two events – incomplete)

Egan Davis (14MB)
Josh Gordon (11MB)
Zach Gordon (13MB)

John Barresi (20MB)

(listed in alphabetical order)

The two events I did see that excited me were the Open Innovative Outdoor Unlimited event (which used to be called “Freestyle), and the Masters Individual Ballet.

The OIOU only had three entrants again, so your guess is nearly as good as mine on placings, EXCEPT… I’ve watched John Barresi’s OIOU all season, and his “Wolfman” performance today was probably the best I’ve seen from him yet.

And in Masters Individual Ballet, Zach Gordon’s performance to begin the event was very solid. I’d be mighty amazed if he did not end up with the Gold in that event, but I’ve been wrong before… Despite the very difficult conditions, Good performances were also turned out by Zach’s brother Josh and by Egan Davis, earning them a place in the top three along with Zach.

Following all of the Sport Kite Competition events, it was tear-down, pack up, and go home to the Holiday Inn to get ready for the Friday Evening Banquet. A shower and a change of clothes plus a little while to relax sure helped. Then it was a short stop in the “silent auction” followed by “meet and greet” and a pretty fair meal.

And after coffee and desert, it was time for the Dave Gomberg Show. Yep – another AKA Auction was underway which ultimately ended up generating well over $22,000 for the organization.

One item up for auction (says Mr. “G.”) was not on the auction list at all. It was a Chicago Fire Polo Shirt, and the serious bidding started immediately. Dave quickly added the additional incentive that whoever bought the shirt would be able to actually “FLY” with Chicago Fire, and the bidding became fast and furious – topping out at $1,000.00! What – a grand, for a Polo Shirt?

Well, Jim Barber of Team Cutting Edge (team now retired) had won the bid, but Mr. Gomberg challenged Jim’s statement that his bidding number was “219” – stating that he knew for a fact that “219” belonged to none other than Zach Gordon! So Zach came on the stage and donned the Polo Shirt to a huge round of applause! Yep – it was just Chicago Fire’s way of announcing to the entire AKA that Zach Gordon was now a member of their team!

On the actual auction list were a wide variety of handmade kites from Midwest designers, all made with materials donated by various sponsors of the event… Beautiful kites, at amazing prices! If you ever get a chance to visit one of the AKA auctions, be sure ot bring your wallet… There is always a steal or two to be had.

Well, it’s 2:30am here in Iowa… Another long day, and one more ahead of us. Competitions are all done, so we’re looking forward to a few workshops and a day full of demos and more flying out on the field.

See you all tomorrow – same time, same place!

David “Geezer” Shattuck