Issue 55: Ocean Shores Intl Kite Challenge

Well, we’re on the road again – this time we’re headed north about 180 miles to Ocean Shores, WA for the Ocean Shores International Kite Challenge put on by the Northwest Sport Kite League and hosted/sponsored by Cutting Edge Kites. So Theresa Norelius and I pack up the new (to me) mobile home-away-from-home and put it on the road. Among other things, this’ll be our first “wring out” of this machine since I picked it up in Bozeman, MT a couple of weeks earlier – so I’m anxious to find out what kind of gas mileage I can eke out of this puppy (in this age of outrageous gas prices).

We got a late start for this one, each of us having several other chores to accomplish on Friday before we could get away, so we didn’t hit I-5 until about 4:00 PM. Yup – into the rush hour from the very get-go. Okay, so we stopped and grabbed a bite, since neither of us had a chance to eat anything substantial during the day. Then back on the road and I kept the speeds down to “moderate” and we rolled along quite nicely – though must admit that I did glance over with jealous eyes to those folks blowing by me at an additional 15-20 MPH in that left hand lane over there…

Anyway, we arrived on the beach at about 8:00 PM, only to find no kites, no people, and NO WIND! D’you suppose there’s any correlation there? So we headed off to find The Polynesian Resort instead – our “home” for the weekend, where we would meet our party and have a chance to stretch our legs a bit. Well the “party” was already underway when we arrived, because it just happened to be John Barresi’s 32nd birthday, and a bunch of folks were rolling in to share John’s celebration of another year under the bridge. So, with all that activity, we didn’t get much actual “relaxation” accomplished, but folks who were in attendance like Barry “Bazzer” Poulter and Dave and Susan Gomberg finally let us wander on out to the motor home in the parking lot, where Theresa and I set up the beds and climbed in for an acceptable night’s sleep. And then we awoke the next morning to find RAIN! Well, more like a “mist” actually…

All right, we had no set schedule we had to meet, so we kind of eased into the morning, getting to the field when it was mostly set up, and folks were nearly ready to head for the day’s Pilot’s Meeting. And while we were parking next to the comp field, I happened to run into Mike Huff and asked him about a mutual friend we’d both been concerned about – Ocean Shores’ own “Old Man On The Beach,” Chuck Johnson. It was with some considerable sadness that I learned that Chuck had passed away on the prior Thursday of complications from emphysema. Well, I for one will certainly miss Chuck, since he’d always been such a warm and gracious friend to me when I first started going out to Ocean Shores on any kind of regular basis – and to a whole bunch of other folks too. I didn’t envy Mike’s being the one to pass that news on to the pilots at the meeting, that’s for sure. But, we’re at a kite event, and I might as well get rolling. So, I left Theresa and headed on down the beach to the Single Line Kite (SLK) area with my camera where I had things to shoot and people to see…

Let’s see now… I passed John and Marzilie Freeman’s camp, and Ron and Marla Miller’s area too, and headed for Glenda Kleppin and Jerry Graham. I chatted a bit with Glenda, who offered food as she always does (I declined), and seemed content to be at a kiting event but in her bus for the time being. Jerry, on the other hand, was out and about on the beach, setting up lawn chairs, driving sand anchors in, setting out kite lines, and pulling kites out of his pickup to assemble and fly today. We chatted a bit while he worked and I watched, which is the way we’ve kinda worked it out. Jerry’s particular about how things go together, so I’ve learned not to “help” without approval, lest Jerry have to do it all over again to get it “his way.” Then, after a short sit-down and chat, it was time for me to get moving again.

So I tried to shoot a few SLK photos, but it eventually turned into a no-go. The lens on my camera had already fogged up from the mist in the air, though I’d struggle along anyway trying to keep the lens clear. Darn! No matter, though. Ron Miller was busy putting up one of Phil Scarfe’s pretty flame patterned parafoils, so I stood and watched and shot a few. Yup, barely enough breeze for anyone to fly a decent Single Liner.

And so I wandered around a bit, saying a “hi” here, watching kites go aloft there, still trying to shoot a few photos (but still too darned wet!) and so it went for the rest of the morning and the start of the early afternoon. And then, it was time for me to get some food back at the motor home. Theresa had already laid out some cheese slices and some hunks off a beef stick, so it was snack food time and a bit of a rest while the comp pilots ran through the last of the lunch-time demos and the iQuad gang played on the beach.

Bazzer had brought along a contraption he’d built that he’s calling a “Fulcrum” or some such name – which is a construct he’s created for iQuad to use as a training tool, skill sharpener, and all-round plaything. Naturally, those iQuaddies were “all over it!”

“How many kites can we land on it at once?”

“Now, how many can we land INVERTED?”

“Can we all do tip-stands on it at the same time?”

“Can we all lean our kites against it and then take off again?”

“What combinations of landings and tip-stands can we do?”

“Can we hook onto it and fly the whole thing into the air?”

“What ELSE can we do with it?”

I dunno if you’ve had the chance to watch these characters in action, but LORDY, do they DO have fun with this stuff! I’ve been thinking that I aught to set aside one entire “event” and do nothing but follow this mob around, shooting photos as I go! Sure – there’d be no “event report” for that one, save for the antics of these Revolution pilots, but it’s certainly got to beat watching things like Novice Dual-Line Precision sessions… This idea seems more like following John Lennon and Ringo Starr around while they whistle choruses from “We All Live In A Yellow Submarine…” Yeah – it’s just a thought!

Anyway, I hung out by the motor home for a while, trying valiantly (and with little success) to keep my lenses dry, and I split my time between the activities of iQuad out toward the water and the Competition Field on the land-ward side.

Yeah, I eventually came to some conclusions. First off, it was time to put the camera away, since I wasn’t getting any shots worth mentioning anyway, so having the camera wet served no useful purpose. Then, Team iQuad was certainly fun to watch, since they were constantly playing together – whenever they weren’t out there flying and practicing their moves. And finally, there WERE some Comp routines worth watching out there on the Comp Field (but not worth photographing).

I happened to be there to catch Amy Doran’s lovely Open Individual Outdoor Unlimited routine, complete with her brand new “Charlie Chaplan” Rev 1.5 she’d made specifically for this event. Gosh, she did a nice job on both the routine and the kite.

And it was nice to see “Wing ‘N’ It” fly so well in Open Pairs competition, too. Bud and Lisa Root have been flying as a pair for so long now, and it was especially nice to see them have some solid, well earned success. Of course, Team Sixth Sense is always a pleasure to watch, especially with some of their new moves this year. I won’t get too heavy into predicting, but whoever looks to knock them off at the AKA Grand Nationals this fall had best be bringing their “A” game to the beach…

And, before I forget to put it into this report, if you’re really interested in the entire “box scores” for this Ocean Shores International Kite Challenge fest, you can view them all by clicking here.

Anyway, the day was mostly gone before we knew it, and we were tearing down and wrapping up the fields, and about ready to head for tonight’s Banquet at the Ocean Shores Convention Center. Yup – the SLK crowd was packing it in too. Time for Theresa and I to fire up the motor home and head back to the Polynesian for a quick wash-up and clean shirt – then off to find us some dinner!

We’d both certainly thought of heading for the event Banquet at the Convention Center, but Team iQuad had it in mind to hit the local Chinese restaurant for some oriental fare, so we tagged along with them instead. Good food, fine camaraderie, and a few chuckles as well. It was well worth doing.

Still, we thought to go back to the Convention Center after we ate for the “Awards” presentations (and for the bag-raffle and auction, of course). No real surprises in Comp results there, but we still enjoyed seeing everyone queue up to get their medals from Jim Barber and their hugs from Monica. Then we were treated to the “Dave Gomberg” show along with the raffle and auction – always a treat if you’ve not had that pleasure.

The dinner / awards / raffle / auction finally came to an end, and it was time to head back for a good night’s sleep again. Well, sleep was somewhat delayed by the usual iQuad hi-jinks and jokes back at the Polynesian, but Theresa and I eventually begged off and adjourned to the motor home. Tomorrow was another Comp day…

Nope, no rain on Sunday morning… Just an overcast so low that you had to stoop to get under it. So we got up and washed up and helped the folks that had to check out of the Polynesian haul their luggage to cars. Then it was time for me to drive Theresa to the field before I broke away on my own to go get myself a decent breakfast. That’s not something I do for myself every day, but I sure do enjoy it when I’m out there on the road. Anyway, I fueled up, got myself some To-Go coffee, and headed back to the beach beside the wide Pacific. Kiting time!

I’ve never quite understood the reasoning, but a fair number of the SLK folks seem to abandon kite flying on event Sundays. Oh, they’ll show up a day early to fly on Friday pretty regularly, but come Sunday morning about a third of ‘em are already packed up and on the road home. So it was no real surprise to find the SLK fields with a few “blanks” where lovely displays filled the air on Saturday. Still, there were enough SLKs to provide some interest, so I headed down that way again.

The “grand tour” showed a fair number of missing faces as already noted, but it also showed some different kites out for some air than I’d seen the day before. Interesting, since that Sunday was almost a 1 for 1 copycat of Saturday. What gives?

Well, it turned out that a few of those left had thought to bring out some of their “less flown” kites, now that there was more room for them in the air. And a few folks were even spending some time adjusting and tuning kites that were either new to them or kites they felt needed some “tweaking” before they were ready to share the fairly crowded space that was available on Saturday. So those SLK folks who remained on the field were using this time in early June to “tune up” their kites before they got into the full-blown season. I checked with some of the folks and found a few comments confirming my suspicions.

And… I also heard a few comments to the effect that it was nice to be sharing the beach between the SLK folks and the Sport Kiters. Yeah, I’ve always personally felt that way, but I’ve not heard very many people saying that sort of thing out loud. It’s good to hear the, “We’re all one kiting family” attitude from various people on the beach. And a hearty “Thanks” to those of you who commented about that, too!

I eventually made my way back up to the Sport Kiters and the Comp Field, and ran smack into my “silliness” for the whole event. Here I thought iQuad had a lock on it from the get-go with their shenanigans, but that “Buried Dog,” ended up wresting the “silliness award” away from all and sundry. Oh sure, it really didn’t seem to bother the dog all that much, but I’ve no idea what kind of mind-set allowed the dog’s “people” to bury it in the sand like that to begin with…

Finally, however, all of the various events were run and we had a completed Competition in the bag. Again, there were no real surprises in the last events flown that I could see on the field. And then it was Tear-Down time again, and the folks from the Northwest Sport Kite League fell to and accomplished it in their usual short order. I have to tell you, it may not seem like much when you watch it, but this league has a well-oiled machine ready when it comes to putting on an event. The field crew is terrific! The scoring folks handle their jobs with dispatch. The judges and other field appointments are trained and very well coordinated. The league’s sound system works very well, too. Oh sure, there’s the occasional error or dropped ball, but then somebody will jump in and make it right quickly, and the league’s well-oiled machinery keeps rolling right along.

And then it was off to the Cutting Edge parking lot for the final awards, including handshakes from Jim and hugs from Monica Barber, of course. And it turned out to be a fine weekend, even though we barely saw the sun, breezes were less than perfect, and the kites were a bit damp at times.

So Theresa and I were headed back home too. The motor home turned out to be a reliable and faithful steed (and rolling home and bedroom), and surprisingly efficient as well. Yeah, we kept it under 60 MPH again, just as we did going north. The surprise came when I filled the tank at the end of the weekend and then computed the mileage. It turns out that this baby can get 17.4 miles per gallon if I don’t pound her too hard. I guess maybe she’s a “keeper!”

Fair Winds and Good Friends,