Issue 60: Weifang International Kite Festival

Between the 19th to the 24th of April 2008, the 25th Weifang International Kite Festival and 4th World Sport kite Championships were to be held at the Fuyan Mountain International Kite Field.  I was very happy to return to Weifang again this year, and to once again meet with many of the world kiting family.  The weather was to be very inclement, with the remnants of a typhoon in the south of China, creating very cold and wet conditions for the first 2 days of competition. The magnificent opening ceremony still went ahead, and it was very pleasing to see the enthusiastic Weifang crowd still in attendance.  I am truly amazed at the wonderful welcome the people of Weifang give to the International contingent each year who attend the world’s largest kite festival and world championship’s.

On the 19th of April, the 2nd Congress of the International Kite Federation was convened. A new Executive Committee was elected, with the new President of the IKF being Mr Feng Jianzhong, who is also the Vice President of the Beijing Olympic Committee, and the Minister in Charge of the State General Administration of Sport of China.  The new Executive Vice President is Mr Xu Liquan, who is the Mayor of Weifang Municipal Government, Shandong, China.  Congratulation’s to all newly elected members of the IKF Executive, and also I would like to thank the members of the outgoing IKF committee who have now stood down from their previous office over the past 5 years.  I do hope that a new chapter in world kiting promotion can move forward, and be very successful for world kitings future. The IKF is a very unique opportunity to ensure all world kiting nation’s can benefit for the future of all kiting disciplines for future generations.

This year I was privileged and honored to be able to assist Weifang International Kite Festival ‘s organizer Mr Liu Zhiping.  I had been approached to assist the championships in the role of Chief Judge, which was a very great honor, and also a very big responsibility.  The great group of staff in the Weifang office, are worth their weight in gold.  No matter how bad the conditions were to get, or how hard the challenges became. These enthusiastic group of people made sure all was in order, and also with a smile.  I wish to thank each one of these people for their sterling efforts, as I know without each one these people working very hard, the success of the event would not have been possible at all. Your efforts are greatly appreciated indeed.

The most amazing vision’s during the championships would have been on the 21st and 22nd of April out at the Fuyan Mountain International Kite Field.  Where two very extreme days of weather were to be experienced.  On the 21st very very low cloud and inclement rain, where team sport kites flew and practiced while flying through clouds and out of view.  I had a smile on my face, in seeing this level of enthusiasm by the world kiting community in attendance.  No matter how cold and wet the weather challenged us all we still flew kites.  By the middle of the day it was time to return to the hotel, as things didn’t get any better and competition was cancelled.  On the 22nd, the weather certainly improved, and the sport kite championships were conducted, on the newly positioned sport kite competition field, which worked a treat indeed.  All other competition categories were to be contested this day as well, and the winners and placings determined.

The 13 teams which took part in the Weifang International Kite Festival’s,  4th World Sportkite Championship’s, were of varying standards.  Some new teams testing their skills in an experienced International field of competitors for the first time.  Highly experienced teams from the Netherlands, Columbia, Korea, and new and improved teams from China.  One thing that was very refreshing, was to see the standard of sport kite teams performing this year.  Of note, the teams from Xiamen and the ShenZhen Ladies Kite Team  were both great to see competing. The vastly improved teams from Dailan and also Shanghai Mingwei, will certainly be seen in future, as invited teams for World Cups with their International standards skills.  All teams did their best in very trying conditions, and I congratulate all teams for their commitment and enthusiasm to compete.  The eventual winners, from the Netherlands, 2nd Shanghai Mingwei, and 3rd Columbia .  My sincere congratulations to all teams who competed, and also the officials who carried out a great competition.  My Field Director Frank from China, and Pit Boss Jack Katchathong from Thailand were second to none and world class indeed.  I will look forward to working with both, and the other judges anytime in the future.

In the after hours at night many great times were to be had with the many world kiting celebrities.  Once again Craig Hansen from Peter Lynn Kites, was at his best.  We always have a great time together wherever I catch up with Craig, and his “honorary New Zealand recruiting campaign” was very amusing indeed.  Once again the karaoke standards were taken to the next level, and many great times were had with the staff of the Weifang Kite Festival Office as well.  My Australian sport kiting friends traveling with me this year were  Noel Mooney, the Chairman of Australia’s premier kiting festival, the Coolum Kite Festival, and Russell Hammond, my Team KAOS team mate . We met up with Anthony Thyssen who is also a member of the Queensland Kiteflyers Society, who was a first time competitor this year at Weifang as well.  Put the likes of Craig Hansen, Frank, Jack and Nick from Thailand, and we Australian’s together, then a good time was going to be enjoyed by all.  It is always great to catch up with Tan Xin Bo, and Mr Wong from Weifang, and also Lee Poi Long from Malaysia.  A new face who was a great deal of fun and a great lady, was Elif Zaman Kirisci from Turkey.  Who traveled to Weifang to make a film about the history of world kites.  I was lucky enough to be able to introduce Elif to my Weifang family to help her gain the best information possible for her film.  I am sure we will see more of Elif on the world kiting circuit in the future too.

It was also great to catch up with “her Royal Highness, the queen of kites”  Mrs Eve Hanney from England.  I believe Eve is staying in China for the next few months.  Her enthusiasm and love of kites is something else indeed. Hans Boehme from Germany was another fine kiting celebrity with always an enthusiastic word for world kiting.  I enjoyed very good times with many people, and hope to again in the future.

In conclusion, this years Weifang International Kite Festival, and 4th World Sportkite Championships was a great success.  My sincere thanks and congratulation’s to Liu Zhiping, his staff at the Weifang office, and also the people of Weifang for their kind hospitality throughout our time in their city. Also the many judges and official’s who without their sterling , and highly competent adjudication, the competition’s would not be possible.  A clear world standard was to be achieved this year, and I look forward to being apart of this continuing in the future at Weifang International Kite Festival and World Sportkiting Championships.

Steve Donovan
International Sportkite Pilot