Issue 57: Camas Indoor Festival

As the weather starts to turn chilly and the opportunities to fly outside begin to dwindle, the hard core kite flyer has a few options for winter entertainment. First, you could start a hobby in flying to warm places for the winter (much like our publisher has with a 2 week kite trip to Argentina!). This however can get a little pricey at times. Secondly, you can invest in a lot of winter clothing and brave the elements, which I do once in a while. Or, lastly, you can take up Indoor kite flying and start hitting indoor kite fests to take care of your kiting addiction. Me, I tend to opt for the indoor option, I have an adverse allergy to being cold. In the Pacific Northwest, that gives you 4 festivals to attend in the winter, the first of which is the Camas event this article deals with, plus one in Long Beach, Washington in January, one in Arlington, Oregon in February and one in Lincoln City in March. That’s enough to keep any avid flyer more than busy throughout the winter.

The 2nd Annual Camas Indoor Kite Festival is unique in a few regards, the biggest one being that they run 4 separate scoring events over the weekend. If you had a tough time in the 1st event, you get three more chances to dazzle the judges! If you can finish top 3 in all four events, you can easily set yourself up for the whole season based on the single weekend. Put on in the first week of November by Bud Hayes and Theresa Norelius, it’s held at the Camas High School, which is just to the east of Vancouver, Washington.

I arrived there early Friday evening. The gym was open for some practice time though I found that the drive had wiped me out so I merely wandered around and socialized a bit, stealing a little time here and there on other people’s kites. One of the things with flying at an event is the decision as to what music to fly to. Do you fly to the same piece four times over, hoping to get it a little better each time or, do you opt for variety. Me, I opt for variety. My plan was to use the tango piece I’ve been using for a while (which to me is beginning to feel like I am beating it to death) only once, and opt for something different on the other three tries, just to keep me on my toes. I was delighted to find some new people warming up as well. Dave Bradley who’s been to many an event as a spectator was spotted with a few different kites. Rachel Day, who’s also been to many indoor and outdoor events was also practicing, along with Connor Doran, Amy Doran’s son. Connor had flown and competed outdoors just this year and now he’s moving into indoor competition as well. Nothing beats having some new people at a competition!

In a perfect world, any day when an indoor kite festival is held, you’d ideally want it to be raining outside as this would drive people indoors to watch. Alas, much the same as it goes with outdoor festivals, we have no control over the weather and Saturday arrived as a very nice and sunny day. Part of me wanted to simply stay outside but, I do love indoor flying as well and given how hard it can be to find a place to fly, having a large gym open all weekend is pretty attractive. So, off I went to spend that lovely day inside. The first comp wasn’t until a little later in the morning so, I spent some time warming up with everyone else. I flew a few different kites over the weekend, my usual Indoor Rev, one of Lam Haoc’s SUL Revs and one of Stephen Hoath’s Bai kites that I’d picked up at WSIKF this past summer. The Bai is an interesting kite. It requires some power to fly, its not really a floater by any stretch of the imagination but, as you get used to flying it, it becomes a potent little kite to fling around. I think as they become more “available” on this side of the pond, I’ll have us review one. Unfortunately, most of my time this past year has been spent flying quad, outside, so, I had some rust to shake off but, after an hour of flying, I felt as comfortable as I possibly could. Which, isn’t saying much, but, the idea is “fun” right? And it IS fun!

I spent some time watching Tristan Underwood warm up. For those of you who have not been beaten by this young guy before (he’s an absolute menace in NWSKL competitions, and I say that with a smile and a lot of respect) he’s truly a gifted flyer. He’s long been beating people with one of Lam’s VIP indoor kites, but, much to  the surprise of many at Nationals, he trotted out onto the floor with a Revolution and his command of 4 lines inside is just about on par with his two line abilities now. Scary stuff indeed if you are chasing #1 but, he’s a fascinating flyer to simply watch, with an intensity that is matched by few people. So, as no big surprise, he took the 1st comp of the morning quite easily. Me, I was simply still waking up! I’ll spare you the blow by blow results by simply pointing you here for all of that :

As you’ll see, Tristan is a force to be reckoned with. Following the 1st comp of the day, we had a brief lunch and went into some demo time. A little less stressful for me, I can simply fly and have fun! Following the second comp of the day, we had an impromptu indoor hot tricks competition, which, not too surprisingly, Tristan won as well but, he capped it with a string of multlazy spins, 64 times in a row, easily eclipsing his previous record of 33 in a row. Well done Tristan! Can you go for 100 next?  My own personal note for indoor hot tricks is “it’s higher than it looks up there”.

After a long day of flying, we all headed over to a local Chinese all you can eat buffet. And, eat we did, it was simply superb food but, better than that, the company was great too! Judging by how tired people were looking, I doubt anyone stayed up too late. I know I didn’t, I was out like a light by 10 that evening.

After a mostly blissful sleep, I woke up raring to go again, so off we headed back to the gym. Had I mentioned how cold high school gyms can be when they have sat empty all night? Brrrrrrrr! I needed flight warming up and just general warming up to get through the morning open fly session! On that mornings agenda was two competitions and all agreed that instead of simply running demos at lunch time, we’d have a mystery ballet comp instead to add a little new fun to the mix. Penny Lingenfelter opted to compete in this and she gave a fantastic performance, with no costumes whatsoever, reminding all of us that she has tremendous depth to her flying, its not simply all about the costumes and skits. Penny was one of the very first people I saw fly a kite indoors and she truly deserved the win that afternoon. The results for the scoring events again is linked below :

and it panned out much like the previous day had, with Tristan remaining undefeated, for the entire weekend. That’s a pretty impressive feat for someone who’s only 11 years old. What a terror he’s going to be in a few years! If we can’t catch him now, there’s no hope, but, we’ll continue to try. Every dog has their day eh?

Once the festival had wrapped up and all the awards had been given out, the day was coming to an end. But, we still had time for one big meal with all of us at a local salad buffet. I was craving some meat but, ok, the salad feast was pretty good too. All that remains for this report is to suggest that next year, you make the trip to Camas for the 3rd running of this event. It grows a little every year so next year, be prepared to fly for an entire weekend again!

Thanks, and see you soon!

David Hathaway