West Coast Rev Clinic V

I have been flying kites for a long time, probably 25 years. I wouldn’t say that I was proficient with anything other than a 1 line kite. I am ok and am learning to trick with dual line kites but where my heart is, where I am I believe passionate about kiting is quad line Revolution (Rev) kites. I bought my first Rev kite April of 2004. I loved it; I flew any chance that I could, believe me I tried to get that kite up with zero wind on more than 1 occasion (probably more like 10 occasions).

The very first Rev clinic was announced 5 years ago and I wanted to be there, but it I wasn’t able to make it. In October of 2011 I got some new Revs and finally felt that I needed to work more on my skills. I never really spent the time to work on my skills, not flying in circles all day but actually working and practicing spending all day in inverted hovers, making sure that my tracking wasn’t out of line, etc., so this is where the Rev Clinic comes in.

So this past March 16th-18th 2012 I spent 3 full days queuing in my skills at the 5th annual West Coast Rev Clinic (WCRC). Hosted by iQuad and held in what seems to be a Mecca of flying, Long Beach Washington USA.

I was able to come down to the clinic with my longtime friend Matt Walker. There were only 30 spots for the clinic and Matt and I bought the last 2. He has only been flying quad line kites since the last Washington State International Kite Festival in August of 2011. We were excited to get down there to the beach so we left Thursday at 4:30pm and weather on the way down was less than par, we were not looking forward to the drive even though it was only 3 hours.  We really wanted to be there for the extra practice on Friday, a chance to get extra one-on-one time with some of the instructors before “Rev school” started the next day.

Waking up in Long Beach on Friday morning, the weather was so-so but as we walked out of the RV to take a look at things and turned to our left, the middle of the sky was clear and dry. We looked at each other, bolted to the truck and hurried to the beach. Pulling up to the beach and seeing 6-7 Revs in the air flying gracefully in formation, Matt and I both felt a little intimidated since we’d never flown team before. Being an accomplished drummer for more than 17 years, I still don’t like to go to the music store and play in front of people, but we both knew that we were here to learn and take all we could from this weekend.

We both got out of the truck and slowly got our kites out, looking at what sails the others were flying. At that point they were flying full vent sails so we went that route and started to set up. The really cool part about this day was the friendliness of the clinic instructors; John Barresi and Spencer Watson were there early and walked down to say hi and give hugs and really made us feel welcome to the beach, welcome to learn. I had a brand new set of lines I was using for this day and they got so tangled as I pulled them out, but John came over and gave me direction on how to get the lines sorted out.

Finally getting the kite up in the air, I was so happy to be there. I was having so much fun I told John “I’m having so much fun I’d to sign up for next year right now if I could”, and the clinic did not even start till the next day. Friday was fun; I learned a lot on the bonus, no curriculum day.

Saturday morning was officially day one of the clinic. Everyone met at the World Kite Museum for coffee and donuts (they really know the way to my heart). There were probably 40 people in this room including instructors and students. I met people from all over, some that I found out lived just a few minutes from my house, to Steven Leonard who took a 37 hour flight all the way from South Africa to be at the WCRC. John and the team walked us through rolling out our lines, how to both fix and avoid tangled lines, how to change frames in the kite, rolling the kite up to put it away, an introduction to the different types of Rev 1.5 B kites including the Standard sail, Mid-Vent, Full-Vent and Extra Vent.  While doing all of this the weather watchers were looking outside and telling us it was clearing up, so we all heading down to the beach.

The entire clinic got to the beach around the same time, we were all so excited to be there we kind of just were in a different state of mind I think. And to throw in a curve ball or three, the wind was still trying to make its mind up about what direction it wanted to blow that day. There were kites set up in 12 different directions it seemed, and no one had it right. THEN on top of all that the skies opened up and it started hailing, not lightly either, it looked like it had just snowed with the ground covered in white. I was kind of nervous that my kite was getting holes in it from the hail hitting it (kind of a first parent fear, except I was afraid my new kite was going to get hurt).

This clinic was organized by iQuad in association with the World Kite Museum and Kitelife. We had a full service kite shop on site with Theresa from The Kite Shoppe instructors included:

John and TK Barresi, Spence Watson, Steve de Rooy, Bazzer Poulter and David Hathaway. We were also fortunate to have Terry Wiggill from Island Quad, and lots more talented fliers among the students.

The instructors called us all over to a central meeting area and had us split into 3 separate groups.

Novice, which is where my buddy Matt went even thought he had flown some, since he was newer to Revs he wanted to start out with a good solid foundation with the kite so he again went into this group which was led by John Barresi and Spence Watson.

Next was the Intermediate, I went into this class. I would say that I was at the entry level of this group at the start of the day. Bazzer Poulter, David Hathaway and Terry Wiggill worked with us on building personal flying skills to prep the team or group flying. We worked on sticking our kites to the sky in a hover, basics of the bicycle spin, which are really just 8 different hover orientations. I found the issue with this maneuver was transitioning (rotating) between the 8 hover positions. There is clearly a lot to it, but understanding how it all breaks down will help big time in the future.

Lastly was the Master group, led by Steve de Rooy. It looked like 5 or 6 people went into that class to have their brains tweaked by one of the best.

My group (Intermediate) was the largest. Bazzer and David were my instructors for the day. I was getting so frustrated with the cramped quarters until Bazzer suggested walking down the beach a little ways to get some more wind window, which helped out immensely. Bazzer had me work on my inverted hover, vertical and horizontal passes, as well as turning my wing tips up and down while trying to keep my wing tips as a pivot point. The way that it worked out for me was I ended up working on this ALL DAY. I got really good at it.

As a few highlights from the other 2 groups, Terry worked with my friend Matt to expand his basic flying skills. Up and down vertically, turning and just overall kite control. Matt was so happy to have one-on-one teaching time from the instructors. The Masters group was working on team flying, which was clearly a common interest and pursuit with most of the students, honing our skills to control the kite and fly it where we want to go, not letting the kite tell us where it wants to go. The really neat thing about the clinic is that it’s interactive and everyone is learning from everyone.

Saturday night found us at the local pizza spot (Chico’s). We all gathered for food, fun and of course, some awesome prize drawings. There were so many prizes, from a set of kite stakes with holsters from LS Custom Kite Accessories, a $100 gift card to The Kite Shoppe, iQuad t-shirts, three sets of the new Rev SPL frames that just came out, and even a Rev “B2” kite package from Kitelife Magazine. Well all went home happy that night including my friend Matt with his new B2 kite and I with a 1 year subscription to Kitelife (thanks John). What a fun night and definitely a highlight of the weekend.

Sunday morning. I have never flown in a team, although on Saturday I was able to fly some basic pairs with Chuck Wiley for a few minutes. He took me aside and showed me some of the ropes in flying in a team. But today I was asked to fly with a group of six. Apparently spending all day working on my own skills by myself paid off yesterday, yay. I flew for about 30 min with this group before the wind changed and we switched kites, flew a little more and then was able to fly in a group with John Barresi. Now for me I sit up and watch videos online of John flying kites till 1 am. I have learned so much from him it was so special and neat to be on line with him calling. He encouraged us to focus on the details, “Spacing on the ground! It all starts from the foundation!” he’d call out, I remember one time as our kites were preparing to launch, I moved mine over about 6” to center it just right. We flew and he would call things that I never have seen or heard but had to quickly figure out what I needed to do, all the while with John explaining and encouraging the group.

Shortly after this the wind died and it was lunch time, but I had my RV parked on the beach so Matt and I quickly made our lunch, cleaned up, waited for the wind and then decided at that point we had a great weekend, we missed our family and it was time to head home. Walking down the beach that sunny day after spending 3 days flying and learning with these people saying our good byes was so fun. Sharing hugs, hi fives and handshakes with a “see ya next time” or “see you at WSIKF 2012” was so cool. I felt a bond between all of us that was so neat, I really can’t wait till next year to experience it again.

It was a great weekend overall. Most mornings were wet and cold but Saturday and Sunday cleared up so nice it was memorable see all the beautiful Revs flying high in the blue sky. I met some of, if not the best people in the sport; I met people from all over the country and all over the world. The biggest thing that I will take from this year’s Rev clinic is not necessarily what new skills I learned, although that was really neat, but rather the new friendships that I made during that weekend. I look forward to my future in quad line flying and to more memorable times with my new kiting friends.

I’d like to say thanks to all the instructors (official or unofficial) who helped me learn more than I expected to this year, Thanks again.

Stephen Owen
Milton WA, USA