Issue 69: Cape Fear Kite Festival

I hadn’t been to North Carolina as a kite flier in quite a few years and always enjoyed it in the past, so I was all over it when Hunter Brown called with the chance to attend the 4th annual Cape Fear Kite Festival in Wilmington Beach and present a Rev clinic for folks from that part of the country.

A quick Skype call with the (then) fiance and BAM, we had our first US event scheduled as a couple… We’d already done Uchinada (Japan) last April, but this would be the first chance TK would have to meet up with many of the folks she’d only known via Facebook and the forums!

Arriving late of Thursday night, TK and I were picked up by Paul DeBakker to stay with him and his lovely wife Dalita for most of the weekend… Always great to see Paul, he’s a superb character and one heck of a dual line flier.

Waking up Friday morning we made our way to the local greasy spoon for some breakfast, and yes, it was greasy enough I won’t even tell you where it was… But somehow, it seemed to be just what we needed to fortify us for a full pre-festival day on the beach with Rev fliers who were coming to take the clinic.

Once on the beach, we were greeted by a whole slew of folks including Ben D’Antonio from Revolution, Scott and Darren Weider, Cath and Eliot Shook, the Koenig family (Melanie, Scott and Laurel), Keith Lawson, Rich Comras, Brad Weiner, Scott Hertenstein, Doug Outlaw and a couple other great folks as well, I just have such a bad time with names… Only a handful of fliers participated in the Rev clinic, but all of them had an awesome time in some darned good wind, and it was definitely great to see everyone, we also got some excellent team flying sessions in on all three days.

While my specific area of interest was the attending Rev fliers, Cape Fear is organized by Mike and Judy Agner with assistance from Hunter Brown, and the primary focus of this event was to break the existing Octopus Record (21) as a cooperative effort with fliers from around the country… Who were the folks dragging huge bags to the beach? The big kite wranglers included Mike Agner, Jeff Burka, David Gomberg, Susan Gomberg, Dennis Hawley, Jim Martin, Tim Maruczack, Jerry McGuire, John McEntire, Al Sparling, Darryl Waters, Brad Weiner, Debbie Zach and Tom Zach, all with significant ground support from numerous other attending fliers.

Saturday morning was blessed with beautiful weather, but with no wind to speak of… Making the best of the situation, the big kite fliers humorously made an informal record for the most inflatable Octopus kites ever gathered in one place as they stacked 22 Octopus (still in bags) into a heaping pyramid of ripstop.

One of the highlights of Saturday was the virgin launch of Jeff Burka’s brand new Crocodile… At 90 feet long, it was one of the largest kites lofted into the air in Cape Fear and is acknowledged as the first “croc” in the USA.

All through Saturday and Sunday, the dual line and power kite folks were set up on the south end of the field including Chris Shultz from HQ Kites, Hunter Brown and Paul DeBakker from Focus Kites, Fraser Worley and others, all flying a wide variety of great exotic freestyle kites and generally tearing up the beach (in a good way)… Martin Blais had an assortment of beautiful kites in the sky, and the folks from Wind Feathers had a stunning banner display up on both days as well.

The majority of the fliers gathered at a local restaurant on Saturday night for dinner, drinks, and an entertaining auction led by David Gomberg which raised funds to pay for a few festival expenses… Spirits were high, great conversations were had, and all thoughts were on good winds for the next day.

Alas, Sunday morning offered up only a little more than what we had the day before… I even took my Exile out for a couple of hours to get my dual line fix in, but coming up around noon, pilot kites began to launch which meant there was also enough wind to try the Octopus kites!

Having used the main area for the better part of the day and seeing the big kite opportunity, the Revolution fliers scattered to fill in areas on the outskirts of the center field and gave much needed space to the big kite fliers as they drove anchors, working furiously to get more big kites aloft. After putting 13 different inflatables, the winds started to die off again, making it difficult for these ripstop giants to stay aloft. Regardless, some of the 22 Octopus kites had already gone home with their owners so they made the best of it and still put on a show that still awed most bystanders, even though they came up short of the record this time.

As David Gomberg said:

“Even if we didn’t meet our record goals, it was a good day at the beach.”

Click here for a short news video from the event!

On a personal note, I was also reunited with friends Susan and Rob Hanson after more than 15 years – as some of you know, these were the folks responsible for Stunt Kite Quarterly (SKQ) back in the 90s, and were kind enough to let us republish them to the Kitelife archives in PDF format… In addition to their publishing contributions, they were also prominent sport kite fliers in kiting’s “hey day” with Rob having earned numerous championships in both dual and quad disciplines during his time as a masters flier.

Really, really great to see them again, and having personally put Rob’s hands on some kites over the weekend, I’m hoping we’ll have the chance to reunite again, sooner than later… Seeing an “old dog’s” revitalized interest, if only for a few hours, was enough to make my whole weekend.

Special thanks to Hunter Brown and Paul DeBakker for their hospitality during the event, felt right at home… Great event, great folks, hope to be back!

Until next time,

John Barresi